Day 20: Temples 30, 31, and 32

After a couple days of light rest for my aching body, and some fresh new kicks and toe socks, Emilee and I headed off so she could visit her first temple. With ambitious plans to get close to the Pacific ocean that night, we took a trolley a few kilometers to give us a bit of a head start. We still had about 5 km to reach temple 31 from the trolley stop. The toe socks Emilee brought for me were so comfortable, protecting each of my toes from rubbing against one another and causing even more blisters. The new shoes made it feel like I was walking on air. Too bad it was still really flippin’ hot.

The first two kilometers were on pretty flat ground, but then the henro trail decided it would be baptism by fire for Emilee, taking us up a steep and winding climb up the side of a mountain. Most of the climb was on stairs made from cut stone or large rocks, none of them of standard height or depth. We tired quickly. Finally, at the pinnacle, we found ourselves in the middle of a beautiful botanical garden.

It was 10 a.m. and my shirt was soaked through with sweat. Emilee was glowing, which I have come to understand is what women do rather than sweat. It’s now summer here, which means daily temperatures of 90 degrees or higher with at least 75 percent humidity. My deodorant had given up the ghost well over an hour ago. Emilee has been wearing a jacket to cover up her arms and shoulders to be respectful to the Japanese people. I want to strip completely naked and try to cool down but I’m afraid of the sun burns where the sun doesn’t ordinarily get to shine on.

 

From a distance we spotted an incredible red multi-tiered pagoda on the top of hill. We knew this had to be Temple 31. Since it had been a few days since I had visited a temple, the rush of excitement returned and I was really looking forward to seeing the temple grounds and practicing my heart sutra recitation. We dropped our packs at the foot of the hill and climbed yet another huge set of stairs to reach the main and daishi halls, as well as the incredible pagoda. Temple 31: Chikurinji was founded in 724, and Kukai later visited here and practiced the Gumonji rites, which are said to increase one’s memory. That awesome five-story pagoda? It was built in 1980 after a previous smaller pagoda and the main hall were destroyed by a typhoon in 1899. Did I mention Kochi is due for another typhoon at any time?

On our way down, the Henro guidebook pointed us down a steep set of stairs made of crushed rocks, none of them level, making for a very difficult hike down on hurting feet and trying not to roll our ankles. We continued down these slopes for a couple kilometers. The slope was covered in trees, and while the shade was nice, it meant that we were constantly swarmed with mosquitoes. Any brief rest meant a few mosquitoes got a quick snack in. They must have recognized Emilee’s fresh flesh and continued to swarm her more often than I, probably recognizing that my blood has already been tainted by dozens of mosquitoes hundreds of miles ago.

Eventually the path leveled out and took us and along several canals filled with water, escalating the already high humidity. We were making good time, so we stopped to rest in the little shade we could find. I realized I was nearly out of water and the small village we had been walking through so far had offered no opportunities to refill. I spotted a cafe about a kilometer down the road and we decided to walk toward it, hoping I could refill my water pack there. When we arrived, we were greeted by a very polite barista, who insisted to fill my pack with ice water, rather than simply letting me fill it from the outside faucet. Bless her. Osamefuda and a photo later, we were back on the henro trail. We entered the outskirts of Kochi City again, and you could feel the temperature rise from all the additional concrete and blacktop of a the city. Our hike to Temple 32 was going to be a steep one up the side of a mountain, but Google Maps led us through a tunnel for a shaded shortcut. It was a long tunnel (long enough I was able to sing the entirety of “Bohemian Rhapsody” with my voice resonating off the wonderful acoustics of the tunnel walls), which spit us out on the other side of the mountain. The hike from this side now included a steep hike through a massive cemetery. Emilee and I were frustrated, the heat was clearly getting to us, and we decided we just couldn’t do it. We had enough for the day and couldn’t hike any more. Luckily, a bus stop informed us a bus would be coming by in 15 minutes to rescue us from the burning sun. 

My plan was to stay at the tsuyado (free temple lodging) at Temple 32, but that meant we had to get there before 5:00 pm when the temple office closes. The bus route took us back through the main part of Kochi City and then we had to switch to a trolley to take us south again to near Temple 32. Unfortunately, the trolley ride was running behind, so rather than making it to our scheduled stop at 4:53 and sprinting the last kilometer to the temple before it closed, the trolley arrived at the stop at 5:02, meaning we literally had no chance of making it to the temple office on time. I had read about a small hotel across the street from the temple, which fortunately had a room available. Without meals, this was one of the more expensive places I have stayed at 4,000 yen per person. With meals, the total would have been 6,500 yen per person. 

It was too late to order meals anyway, so we took a shower and walked to a nearby udon restaurant. Many restaurants will see us gaijin coming and will offer an English menu, but this small restaurant didn’t have one. We fumbled through the menu using the camera function on Google Translate and ordered a couple different bowls of udon. They were heavenly, mine with a rich pork broth and Emilee’s having a miso base. Mine came as a bit of an egg drop soup, with egg slowly drizzled into the hot broth as it was stirred and then a couple handfuls of delicious mushrooms tossed in afterward. Emilee’s had a fish cake (the pink and white disk), a raw egg, and fish roe. The cook came over after we ate and practiced his English on us, which was surprisingly pretty decent. He asked if we were walking henro and complained about the heat with us. He told us a henro master had came in earlier that day, which is someone who has completed the pilgrimage more than 50 times and get a special band to wear around his neck. This gentleman was checking into the hotel at the same time as us, so we saw the band. He was just as sweaty as I was.

We stopped at a nearby 7-Eleven for a couple beers to help soothe our aching bodies and collapsed back at the hotel, falling asleep before we finished our drinks. Tomorrow we’ll walk across the street to pray at Temple 33 and move on toward Temples 34 and 35, hopefully staying at the tsuyado at Temple 35.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

  2. Attractive part of content. I simply stumbled
    upon your site and in accession capital to assert
    that I get actually enjoyed account your weblog posts.
    Anyway I’ll be subscribing in your augment or even I fulfillment you get admission to consistently fast.

  3. Great goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff prior to and you are just extremely wonderful.
    I really like what you have bought right here, certainly like what
    you’re stating and the way in which by which you say it.
    You’re making it enjoyable and you continue to care for to
    stay it smart. I cant wait to read much more from you.
    That is really a great web site.

  4. I am really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems?
    A number of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not operating
    correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari.
    Do you have any ideas to help fix this issue?

  5. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite sure I will learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  6. I don’t even know how I stopped up here, however I thought this submit used to be great.
    I don’t recognize who you are however certainly you’re going to a well-known blogger
    in the event you are not already. Cheers!

  7. Excellent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff prior
    to and you are simply too excellent. I really like what you’ve
    bought right here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you assert it.

    You’re making it enjoyable and you still care for to
    keep it smart. I can not wait to learn much more from you.
    This is actually a wonderful site.

  8. Hey would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a
    tough time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs
    and I’m looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  9. I’ll right away take hold of your rss feed as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service.

    Do you’ve any? Please permit me recognize in order that I may subscribe.

    Thanks.

  10. It is really a great and helpful piece of info. I’m
    satisfied that you simply shared this helpful information with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  11. This is the right web site for everyone who really wants to
    find out about this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you
    (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject which has been discussed for many years.

    Great stuff, just wonderful!

  12. It’s going to be end of mine day, but before finish I am reading this great paragraph
    to improve my know-how.

  13. It’s an awesome post in favor of all the internet people; they will take
    advantage from it I am sure.

  14. I was suggested this web site via my cousin. I am not sure whether or not this post is
    written through him as nobody else recognize such special approximately my
    trouble. You are wonderful! Thanks!

  15. I used to be suggested this blog through my cousin. I’m no longer certain whether this post is written through him
    as no one else recognize such exact about my difficulty. You’re incredible!

    Thank you!

  16. I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  17. Its not my first time to pay a visit this website, i am visiting this site dailly and obtain nice
    facts from here every day.

  18. If you want to improve your experience simply keep
    visiting this site and be updated with the most up-to-date news update posted here.

  19. That is a good tip especially to those new to the
    blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  20. Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a blogger,
    and I was curious about your situation; many of us have
    created some nice methods and we are looking to trade techniques with others, be sure to
    shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  21. Hello i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this
    post i thought i could also create comment due to this brilliant article.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu