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Henro Pilgrimage - Day 6

I wasn’t eaten by the ghosts of lost children during the night. Barbara didn’t show up at the school, nor was she at Tairyūji (21), so I have no clue how far she walked yesterday or where she ended up sleeping.

Today was another mountain climb, and it was absolutely worth it. Tairyūji is also called “The Kōya of the West” and I found it quite serene and magical. I got there before 8 and the entire place was enveloped in fog. There was no one else around. Once the office opened, I bought a few gifts and a small Kūkai-specific prayer bead bracelet for my wrist. Once back on the Henro trail, you soon come to a place where Kūkai is said to have trained in his youth. Now, atop a boulder overlooking the surrounding countryside, is a large seated statue of him. Unfortunately due to the fog I couldn’t see anything, but we had a good chat. After promising to meet again, I continued on.

The path through the mountains was utterly silent. Partway through I passed by a pilgrim walking in the opposite temple order and we wished each other luck. Otherwise, there was nobody and nothing but me and the trees. After a few hours I finally popped out into civilization and reached Byōdōji (22). Once I’m back, I definitely have to look this place up again. At the Nōkyō Office, they told me about another abandoned school I could sleep at 2 hours further up the road. Another chance for the ghosts, maybe.

Ah, and something I forgot to mention. As I had gotten through the mountains, it started to pour. I had to pull out my rain gear for the first time, and it performed wonderfully. I was especially pleased with my boots and socks; not wet at all. At the moment I’m waiting out the rain in a Henro rest hut at Fukui Elementary School. I’ll sleep here tonight. Tomorrow I only plan to do a half day in order to save my energy for the 3-day dash I’ll soon be doing down the coast.

Animals: 1 cat, 6 frogs, 5 mountain crabs, 1 murder hornet

Post-trip Addendum:

At Byōdōji I was told that the old abbot’s son recently took over, and has since released a website, phone app, and streaming videos of their rituals and services. Like, how many Buddhist monks can you picture Twitch streaming their Flame Rituals? At least these guys are!

Original Japanese:

Barbaraは大井小にも太龍寺にも居なかったので一体どこまで歩いてどこで寝たかは想像付かん。今日はまた朝から登山だった。しかしとても登る価値はあった。「西の高野」の太龍寺は神秘的だった。丁度霧が掛かっていてほぼ誰も居なかった。いくつかの土産も買った。寺から遍路道に進むと、空海が修行したと三教指帰に書いてある場所に来る。今は彼の像が岩の上に背を向けて座っている。普段いい景色だろうが霧で麓の事何も見えない。また会う約束をしてそこを後にした。

静かな参道だった。途中で逆打ちの人と会ったが他に数粁、何もなかった。数時間したらやっと町に出て平等寺を訪れた。帰ったらまたここを調べるべし!納経所でまた訊いたら、二時間位歩けばまた廃校で泊まれると云う。

あ、書き忘れたのは、登山という困難を乗り越えたら今度雨が降り出した。初めて雨具を試して、ばっちり。特に靴と靴下が濡れなかったのが嬉しかった。今福井小学校の休憩所で雨宿り。今夜ここで寝る。明日は半日だけ歩いて、明後日の三日連続ダッシュの為に力を蓄える。

動物:猫1・蛙6・山蟹5・雀蜂1

#henro #japan #buddhism

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