Being a sucker for following the “scenic route” I had chosen to take the longest trail (E) between Kongōfuku-ji (金剛福寺 – 38) and Enkō-ji (延光寺 – 39) which is around 20km further than the shortest.

Heading out into a deluge of rain at 7am this morning I was beginning to regret this decision but was fully committed at that point so just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

Outside tunnel in rain

Continuing through a number tunnels, which were for once a blessing, I reached a fork in the road at Ōura where the trail leads into the forest.

Muddy stream

Although the trees provided some cover, the slippery leaves underfoot made it tough going. At one point I had to gingerly cross a stream which was engorged by the rain but, having tiptoed over the wet rocks, managed to avoid an early bath.

The rain also brought out the wildlife with jumping frogs and scuttling crabs frequently crossing my path. Almost every day I see huge birds of prey hunting over the fields and the occasional snake but unfortunately, they’re a bit hard to photograph.

Tsukiyama Jinja

I paused at Tsukiyama Shrine to catch my breath and watch the rain for a little while before diving back into it.

Shikoku coast

Further on the trail briefly dips onto the beach where I spotted an empty bottle of Chinese mineral water which had washed up on the shore.

Chinese mineral water bottle

There’s a story that when Kōbō-Daishi was studying in China, he threw a Buddhist ceremonial sceptre into the sea at Mingzhou and it later showed up in Shikoku. I suppose this adds some credence 😉

By noon I was soaked through and pretty miserable. I came across one of the few convenience stores in the area and stopped for a soggy lunch. Lawson should instigate a new 888 Shikoku Conbini trail with a stamp book to go with it (they already have a cute mascot).

Sukumo Sunny Side Park hut 10

With about 12km left to complete I put my headphones on for the first time and listened to podcasts for the final three hours. It mentally extracted me from the situation although I’m not sure was completely congruent with the concept of ascetic training!

Arriving at the Flex Business Hotel I booked in Sukumo around 3.30pm I immediately set about getting everything dried off and cleaned before heading out for some food.

Wandering the empty streets I ended up at a truly odd American-style diner called Kirin House (not to be confused with the beer) that looked as old as its owner.

Kirin House

I ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a coke and then sat alone as the only patron at one of the fading wooden tables. It was a very Murakami-esq moment where the outside world ceased to exist. The burger was as retro as the decor but passed muster.

More rain is forecast for tomorrow but if things go well I should be able to make it to Kanjizai-ji (観自在寺 – 40). Time to hit the hay.

Information

Distance walked: 44 km / 56,700 steps
Temples visited: None
Overnight lodgings: Flex (ビジネス ホテル) – Business Hotel

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Comments

  1. Margaret says:

    Oooh David – a tough day but great you got through it 👍🏻 Very wet here in Norfolk but no frogs or crabs 😉 M

  2. Arnold Smith says:

    Enjoying following your blog David. I know how challenging it can be walking in the rain. You are doing well with your ascetic training. It is giving me pointers when I do the pilgrimage in October. I liked the part of you finding the empty bottle of Chinese mineral water and relating it to Kōbō-Daishi, throwing a Buddhist ceremonial sceptre into the sea at Mingzhou in China. It is funny how these small occurrences can enhance the experience.

    May the force remain with you, as you continue your long journey. Thanks for taking the time to record your experience and for the wonderful photos.

  3. Athena says:

    I lived off of Lawsons on Shikoku. I totally agree with your Lawson 888 idea. lols. They didn’t abandon Kochi like Family Mart did!

    Also – I totally feel you when it comes to mountain paths. I always braced myself for them because every single one, not because they were hard, but because they were exactly as you described (plus tons of mosquitos whirling around my ears). I was so pleasantly surprised when I did Shosanji at the end and the trail was ‘normal’. hahaha.

    I relate to the errands in the hotel. hahaha. I never listened to anything on the road though. I’m curious as to how that feels.

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