First Re-Packing – City to Hiking – getting this lot ( top of Pic ) into the 5 packing cubes and then into the Red Backpack – and it can’t weigh any more than 10 Kilos plus water !! – 😮 .
Then the trip really starts .
Just getting to Haneda airport via Metro & Monorail- To then see THE BEST name for an airline on the runway next to us. One for you Deb D’ 🤣
First task is to get used to the local customs , news , traditional dress and saké Both Breakfast & Dinner deal me a 20 pot mesé that’s always Fishy , Soupy , Veggie, Noodely ,Eggy , Gloopy , Spicy , Pastey , Chewy mmmmmm . 😬
Lulled into a false sense of security- the walk starts Sunny & Civilised …… BUT ….
……. until I realise 2 things :- that the temples – even those not at altitude are almost always raised . :- The steps within the temple courtyards are always good however the long approach to every one is through forest on steep trails or stone and wooden log steps that are often crumbling .
90% of the “OHenro” – (Pilgrims) you see are NOT walking : – Car , coach , bike prevail – and the footpaths reflect this benign neglect.
But when you get up there !! ….. always a wow factor , – the temples , statues , gardens , ponds and of course the Pilgrims in white clothing , handwritten verses on their shirts , conical hats with the Sanskrit 4 phrases of enlightenment …….
Each one is different , ranging in size from elaborate chapel to walled village .
You get the idea of size of just one temple from this map of the Kompira Shrine – 1368 steps up and 1368 steps down . Oh yes .
First signs of Cherry Blossom 🌸 add to each ascent .
You sound the huge brass bell , wash hands , light candles and incense , contribute coins , pray or acknowledge the deity in your own way , sound a smaller bell .
Around you sutras are intoned by the more traditional ohenro.
It works 👌………… Magnificently.
Take it slowly , there are always hidden surprises – after all it’s been an effort to get here . Now head for a highlight of each visit – the signing of your temple book . Similar in meaning to the stamps proving my progress in my Spanish Camino Credencialé but WAY more elaborate. Hand painted into my temple book are the Noukyosho temple stamps overwritten with beautiful calligraphy- a treasured record of each visit on the Shikoku 88.
…….. I’m learning a lot as I go – helped by the impressive language skills of Sister Kate …… I’m still at the “Thanks , Hello and 2 beers please” stage . 😆
Until next post …….. 👋