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Henro Pilgrimage - Day 33 - May 18 (31km)

I’ve stayed at a Toyoko Inn perhaps 25 times in my life, and they all follow the same recipe. This is a good thing, it means it always feels like a familiar space, even when you’ve never been to that location before.

On the tram to the main station I met a married couple with the rare last name of “Yoriguchi”. Apparently they had lived in America for a year and were able to speak some English. We ended up getting the same train up the coast, and we chatted until I got off at yesterday’s checkpoint, Mitsuhama Station. It was already a bit late (by Henro standards) by this point, so I concentrated on walking. At least that was my intention - I ended up swinging by a few non-88, non-Bekkaku temples that were nonetheless on the map. I saw a good looking Ramen place next to Henjōin, but with the owner apparently ill I had to go without.

By the time I made it to Aokijizō, another marked-but-not-main temple, it was already 17:00. I had no lodging arranged and was hoping to ask the temple staff if they knew a place I could pitch the tent. I soon realized there would be no one to ask - the temple seemed mostly abandoned. Yet, to my surprise, right beside it was a seemingly new, single-room building. I peered through the sliding glass door. No one inside, but it was clean, and there was bedding folded up on shelves. My gaze fell on a paper taped to the inside of the door:

Free lodging for walking pilgrims.

A miracle. The conditions were clear:

  1. Call us before you stay.
  2. Clean up before you leave.
  3. No homeless pretending to be pilgrims.

I called the number, and the man on the other end gave me the go-ahead. What a lucky find.

Post-trip Addendum:

The temple sat next to a massive petroleum processing plant which hummed and glowed all night. I did manage to sleep.

There is a demographic of homeless here who pose as walking pilgrims in order to garner favour and receive free lodging. It isn’t looked well upon.

People in the countryside almost always greet each other when they pass by one another. This had long since become habit for me as well, and it was this day, after my greeting was entirely ignored by someone fishing, that I came to this axiom:

A person not returning your greeting is not a reflection on you, it’s a reflection on them. Greetings are to be freely given, without expectation. Nonetheless, each greeting is an offer for the other person to participate in their own humanity.

Original Japanese:


青木地蔵まで来るともはや十七時で奇跡的に無人の通夜堂が在った。寺に電話を入れて泊まってよし。今日は lucky だったな。


#henro #japan #buddhism

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