There was another opportunity to hike a leg of the 88 temple pilgrimage, spread across the 4 prefectures on my island. These events seem to be bi annual, and I intend to participate in as many as I can. It isn’t really a desire of mine to make it to every one of these temples as it would require a lot of effort for something that really holds little significance to me, but by means of these hikes I’ll see as many as I can. Visiting these temples is on par with a Christina exploring Israel. All the hikes take place within my prefecture, which is nice because I can get to know my surroundings a bit more at the same time. This particular trek had me in a new area, about an hour away from my usual stomping ground. As one last bonus, these outings are catered to the foreigners in the area, so I can meet a few new people and spend an afternoon with friends too. One special guest along with us for the day was the ambassador of Thailand, the most political powerful Thai person in Japan. Doesn’t mean too much to me, but I guess it was quite an honor. I exhausted my knowledge of Thai in thanking him.
Compared to the last outing, this one wasn’t nearly as beautiful. While I did see some rural areas, it was mostly urban with the walks taking place on roads and sidewalks. There weren’t many sights tooterribly worth seeing along the way, just walking and talking filled the time. It was a 4 km walk from the station to the first temple, Daikoji. At this temple we saw what we needed to see and broke for lunch. Nothing too special, though I did see a truly enormous spider in the urinal.
Getting ready to go
After our break, it was back to the trail. This included a long 10 km walk to the next two temples. Not much I can really draw from this stretch of time, except that it was sorta long and my feet were a bit tired. Finally we reached Jineinji and Kanonji temples. This is a rare instance where two of the temples were in the same location. Back in the day, Japan’s indigenous religion Shinto and and Buddhism existed together without any issues. Neither religion’s doctrine have any problem with being invested in both concurrently, so the temples could share the same ground. This pilgrimage, originally made by Buddhist monk Kukai, included some of the Shinto shrines. However, in the Meiji era, the Japanese government declared that these two religions couldn’t be quite so linked, and it was determined that the original shrine designation would be reassigned to the neighboring Buddhist temple. Interesting history for sure, and it saved us another short walk. While at these two temples, we had the chance to talk to the head priest’s assistant and he was able to tell us all this information. He also brought us into a room with a number of the temple’s artifacts. These things included 1000 year old paintings and statues, as well bone fragments of the original Buddha. I assume they carried no more legitimacy than the pieces of the cross or bones of saints that are touted by numerous churches, but in the off chance they really were, I guess it’s a cool thing to have seen.
We were running a bit ahead of schedule, so we climbed up a mountain to see an enormous coin made of sand. It was one of those things that appears in all of the tourist guides for the region, but couldn’t justify its on trip to go see it. Being able to tack it on to something else was great. The trip as a whole was a success, and I couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. As I said, seeing more of my surroundings was nice, as well as getting a few more of the temples under my belt. I’ll be back for round three later this year.