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Henro Pilgrimage - Day 30 - May 15 (44km)

I killed it again today. I was up at 4:30, gone by 5:00, and was on a tight schedule the entire day. It was non-stop walking, and a lot of it uphill.

At one point I hit another farmer’s fence, which seemed to cut off the route entirely. I took the obvious detour, except it wasn’t, and I found myself in the bush again. I turned around and quickly discovered that the fence had a little door which in my haste I had missed.

I really flew today. Heading for the Nōso Pass I walked 5km uphill on a mountain highway, finally passing through the flat Mayumi Tunnel. At the foot of the pass I was already mostly out of food but had to keep going. I did manage to get water from a local. Back uphill you come upon the ruins of Nakano village, and there isn’t a soul in sight. This is several hundred meters above sea level in the middle of the mountains. They have a school up there too, but it clearly has not been used in decades. Their Jinja was quite large, but similarly looked unkept. After that the true climb began, with several poorly marked sections of trail, also highly overgrown. I was afraid to take this route because I knew that Nakano Shūhei, the author of a Henro book I had read, got lost here. But I decided I had to. In the end I made it through confidently and I don’t know where he could’ve gotten lost.

This particular route is special because you descend upon temple 45 from the top, doing it before 44 to avoid backtracking. I arrived through the mountain gate at 16:15 (recall: they close at 17:00). Considering how far I had walked, that’s amazing timing.

Another 3km down from the temple was a hut standing beside a hot spring and restaurant, unfortunately closed today. Which meant no real dinner, since all I had left was dried apples and Calorie Mate. At least there are drink machines and a bathroom here.

Can I make it to Matsuyama tomorrow?

Animals: 2 cats, 2 snakes

Post-trip Addendum:

This day was the greatest accomplishment of planning, mental fortitude, and physical execution of the entire pilgrimage. I walked from Uchiko to Iwayaji (45) in one day. That’s almost unheard of, and had the conditions been any different I wouldn’t have made it. Rain? Bad wind? Slightly slower pace? One break too many? Getting lost in the mountains? No path optimizations? Any of that and I wouldn’t have made it. But I did.

The “unrecommended” route above Nakano village was probably also the most challenging of the pilgrimage in terms of execution difficulty. There were some very thin sections of trail, upon which a slip would mean a tumble down the hill. The trail itself was also very poorly marked in places.

Original Japanese:





#henro #japan #buddhism

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