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Henro Pilgrimage - Day 29 - May 14 (26km)

I was told the morning devotion would start at 6:00, but the time came and went and the temple was silent. At 7:30 the Abbot emerged in a tizzy and whisked us off to the Fire Hall, the Grand Hall, and the Master’s Hall, where we participated in the rituals. Despite the late start it was a rare experience and I’m grateful for it. I will visit here again one day.

By 8:30 I was hiking back down through the trees. Most of the way down there was a section marked on the map as “difficult passage”, and I found myself bush-whacking for a few minutes before I convinced myself I had taken a wrong turn. Down a different fork in the path (mostly blocked by construction equipment) I found some farmers who told me that I wasn’t lost and just needed to squeeze through a tiny footpath between their fields and the hill to get back to the road.

By noon I was down into the city of Ōzu. Here was Toyo-ga-hashi (Bekkaku 8), the temple with the coolest name. It means “The Bridge of Ten Nights”, referring to a legend of Kūkai where he slept under a nearby bridge for a night and pondered the nature of humanity. It was said his meditations felt like the passing of ten entire days, and the name came to be. Luckily the bridge is still there, and under it is a stone statue of Kūkai, lying on his side, fast asleep. It was a strange feeling to see him after all these weeks - I had lifted my staff over every bridge I crossed, and often questioned Kūkai out loud at his choice of nap locations.

Seriously Kū you’re going to get ticks.


Look at this river! I bet you’re soaked to the bone down there.

To which he would reply that he was swimming instead. Smart-ass always had an answer.

The next town, Uchiko, was charming. By complete coincidence I found a restaurant ran by a German guy and his Japanese wife and had an excellent dinner. We spoke in German as well, and he gave me advice about where to sleep that night. Apparently the park back on the other side of the river had free camping, which wasn’t at all marked on my map. That’s where I am tonight and there isn’t a soul around. Tomorrow I hope to get to temple 45, but it’s far.

Osettai: Mochi, salad, information, a strange citrus

Original Japanese:






#henro #japan #buddhism

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