JAPAN DAY 13
Temple 24 25. 41km
Total km’s walked in Japan 256
Accumulative total km’s walked 1984
Today we visited two temples with the help of a little bus ride we covered 41 km. We decided last night that we really couldn’t afford to have a days rest and still make our June 26th deadline, so we opted to inject a little transport into the pilgrimage this was something we had intended to do, just we didn’t know where and when. This has now set us up for the next five days with accomodation at the right kilometre mark. We are finding it difficult to get cheap accomodation at the right km mark for us. Tonight we were suppose to stop at the Shukobu at temple 24, but when we arrived the asking price for the room was double the quoted price (I think it was lost in translation when we enquired) so we had to walk on towards the next temple to find accomodation that was within a hobos budget. :(
Today we weaved in and out of little seaside villages, all with their own personality. Some are surfing grottos others fishing and some our very much tourist meccas. If you looked closely they all tell there own story. Unfortunately, all information and signage is only in Japanese, so it is up to our imagination and common sense to create the story of each village. This can keep us entertained whilst walking for quiet awhile.
HIGHLIGHT: The big bath in tonights accommodation, for the first time in years I had a long soak in the tub.
LOWLIGHT: My feet are still really sore tomorrow I am going to have to put on lots of tape. :(
Grateful for the accomodation tonight, it has given me a chance to attend to my feet in private. Grateful for the bus ride and the gentleman that helped us get tickets, without people assisting us along the way we would be stuck. Grateful for time with the Spunky Rooster, so we can talk about what is going on in our heads.
WHAT IS A PILGRIMAGE
A pilgrimage by definition is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other locations of importance to a persons beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphysical journey into someones own beliefs
How does a pilgrimage differ from a holiday?
A pilgrimage is a transformative journey full of hardships, darkness and peril. In the tradition of pilgrimages those hardship are not seen as accidental but as integral to the journey itself. Treacherous terrain, bad weather taking a fall and getting lost- challenges beyond our control, strip the ego of the illusion that it is in charge and make space for the true self to emerge. The destruction of this illusion ensures that the pilgrim starts to centre on the here and now -in every moment of the journey.
JAPAN DAY 12
No Temples today 25km
Total km’s walked in Japan 215
Accumulative total km’s walked 1721
Today was such a contrast to yesterday, the gorgeous coastal views continued but without the rain and they were glorious. Throw in a Japanese surfy dude for good luck and you have a near perfect day. We are currently walking between temples 23 & 24 a 75km distance of some significance as we move from prefecture Tokushima into Kochi Prefecture. It is said at this point the pilgrim moves from spiritual wakening to their ascetic training. Now if you are like me I had to google what that meant.
Spiritual Awakening: refers to a shift in consciousness a perception of reality which had been previously unrealised. The culmination of such realisations is in the recognition of the oneness with all of existence.
Ascetic Training: The practice of severe self discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons. In short it is about learning to live without, and self discipline
Thinking about Buddism within it’s preaching there is a lot of symbolism, so it would follow that this journey would reflect that symbolism. Today we went through several tunnels and as we did I reflected on what it could mean. Tunnels could represent dark times in ones life......... if so was the trail telling me
*There is always ;light at the end of the dark
* Sometimes you have to go through dark times, not skim over them or go around them
* Some dark times are longer than others
* Some dark times can be shorter but more difficult
* Sometimes you have to go through dark times alone, sometimes with other people
* Sometimes there is no reason for the dark times
HIGHLIGHT: Lunch on the surfy dude’s verandah looking out over the beach
LOWLIGHT: Nil today
Today I am grateful for The Spunky Rooster, he has really worked hard to ensure we stay on track and have somewhere to sleep each night.
I am grateful for the universe and KuKai for the trail today it was very beautiful.
I am grateful for the surfy dude....you will never know how many laughs you gave us.
SURFIE DUDE STORY
Today we stopped at a little surfing village for lunch and a surfy guy invited us to eat our lunch on his verandah looking out at the ocean. Conversation was stilted due to language but it became quiet clear he thought Elvira was a bit of all right. He begged her to stay awhile, suggesting he was lonely and although it was lovely living by the beach , he was very lonely. It was quiet funny to watch, I am sure we could have sold Elvira for as she put it “ four camels”. We joked about it for several kilometres.
JAPAN DAY 11
Temple 23, 28km
Total km’s walked in Japan 190
Accumulative total km’s walked 1697
After an amazing night sleep in the Hawasa Train Station, this morning I popped over to the 7/11 to grab breakfast. Although I slept well, my body still hadn’t recovered from the two previous days, so it was a slow start. Last night we decided to take the scenic route today even though it meant a few extra kilometres (about 4km). This would have been a great decision if the weather had been fine, unfortunately, the weather didn’t come to the party It poured down all day, so the beautiful coastal views we would have had all day were shrouded in rain clouds. To make matters worst, the coastal road turned out to be nearly 10 km longer . At 4.55pm (temples close at 5pm sharp) three drowned rats crawled into Saba Daishi (a Shinto shrine not one of the 88 official temples) and humbly asked did they have somewhere we could sleep. Wet through and very cold, we gratefully followed the monk to a small shipping container which was dry and toasty warm. We only had one temple to visit today, so prayers were a little light on, but we had decided todays prayers would be for harmony. I looked up the definition of harmony just to be sure we where using it in the correct context. “Harmony is by definition“ a pleasant musical sound made by different notes being played or sung at the same time.” Apply this to humans.....we all dance to a beat of a different drum at the same time, but if done with love and understanding each of our drums add to the rhythm of life. I think harmony came up today because The Spunky Rooster and I seem to be out of sync at the moment, which is hard when your on the road and together 24/7. The Rooster and I have very different ways of seeing the world and everyday situations, this can cause a lot of friction. Usually when we are on the road this different perspective serves us well, ensuring that all bases are covered. Over the last few days the different viewpoints seem to be putting us at loggerheads. So to be praying for harmony will help us focus internally on what angst we are each bring to the table.
HIGHLIGHT: The scenery it was really pretty and it was also a mental signal that we were nearing the end of the first part of our journey spiritual awakening. So what does this mean? Are we closer to Buddha? Do we acknowledge the divine being within? Or is it just mental discipline to create a practice to daily acknowledge your spirituality. Tomorrow we move into the Kochi Prefecture and into Ascetic training.........have no idea what that means.
LOWLIGHT: The bloody rain, it rain so hard it has seeped through my pack cover, my pack and my pack liner, luckily I have everything in organisation cubes that are water resistant.
Today I am grateful for the temple lodgings being totally dry and warm. I am grateful of my growing awareness of my mood swings. Next step is to alleviate them. Grateful for the progress we are making on the road. We are sticking to our plan and budget.
At each of the temples we have a book that we take to the office temple and the monk will write the name of the temple and the main deity in Japanese calligraphy. Then stamp with 3 official stamps. These stamp books are proof that you have indeed completed and prayed at each of the 88 temples. The completed book is considered quiet valuable and a very strong talisman.
Each O Henro carries with them “name slips” which form part of the ceremony. On the name slips you have to write:
JAPAN DAY 10
Temple 22 29km
Total km’s walked in Japan 169
Accumulative total km’s walked 1669
Perseverance was what we had decided to write on our name slips today and perseverance is what was required to get today DONE. Lot’s of ups and downs. It was a long hard slog that seemed to go on forever. We had hoped to get to temple 23 today but the hard trail had slowed as down, we crawled into Hiwasa around 5.30pm. We had been told that there was a Henro Hut at the Hiwasa Train Station so we headed straight there. Finally arriving we were greeted by what could only be described as picnic shelter with a bench and seats I nearly cried. I was so exhausted and now this. But the budget didn’t allow for paid accomodation so it was a “ suck it up princess “ situation. Upon closer inspection they were actually a ingenious designed hut. On 3 sides there where plastic blinds that came down, the chairs and the table folded up into the walls and when we placed our bivvy bags in it was a perfect place to spend the night. Maybe this was Kobo Daishi’s lesson to me, don’t judge a book by it’s cover? 7/11 was just across the road and the train station amenities less than 100m away. PERFECT.
HIGHLIGHT: Our accomodation tonight, I’m snug as a bug in a rug in my bivvy
LOWLIGHT: How far we walked (to far :-( )
Grateful today for the lesson of perseverance, how often do we give up the things we want in life because it gets to hard, or to many problems? Today we walked and walked, there was many a time I wanted to stop, but we have to stick to our schedule to complete the trail before we fly out. So I am grateful I kept going and am rewarded with this amazing little hut and a warm bivvy. I am grateful for having eyes wide open, that can see beauty in the simple things like the beautiful flower in the cleansing water today (see picture below) I am grateful for the Japanese people and their kindness on the road, the little gifts, their patients in trying to understand and help us and their ingenuity in creating this gorgeous and practical hut.
THE HENRO VEST
The white vest or Oizura is symbolic of ancient times when Henro would often die on the trail. They would wear white so they could be buried wherever they fell. On the back of every Oizura is written Dogyo Ninin meaning we two travel together or two people 1 practice. It is suppose to represent the presence of Kobo Daishi with every pilgrim.
JAPAN DAY 9
Temples 20 & 21 22km .
Total km’s walked in Japan 133
Accumulative total kms walked 1640
Today was a hard day at the office over 2 mountains. Last night we stayed at a Henro Hut (see below) so an early start, but not before I had a hot coffee out of a can, out of vending machine...only in Japan. The scenery today was so beautify and elegant forest of towering bamboo, however, I found it hard to appreciate when your struggling up the side of the mountain not once but twice. To make matters worse we had run out of snacks for the afternoon. So we trudged into the town were we had booked a Henro House (see below) and was just about to start looking for our accomodation and was delighted to turn around to see where David was and there was the Henro House...made my day.
HIGHLIGHT: The lovely Henro House and host
LOWLIGHT: Have to say my dam feet, they are giving me curry, arches are killing me
Todays gratitudes are for all the women in my life , as I thought it was mothers day at every temple I prayed for each of them . I am grateful for my mother. I’m so glad we had some time together before I left, our relationship has certainly gone through a lot. I am grateful for the time I spent with my Grandmother before she died, she was a special lady. I am grateful I have a solid relationship with my daughter one that is both supportive and loving. I am grateful to my 2 closest friend Donna & Vicki both strong independent incredible women who I love and adore. And last but not least I am grateful for me and who I am, I am far from perfect but for the first time in my life I am happy with who I am.
ACCOMODATION ON TRAIL
On trail there are a variety of different accomodation you can utilise.
HENRO HUTS: These are free shelters along the way for the use of the pilgrims, they range from simple 3 sided tin sheds, to fulling enclosed cabins that are free for overnight stays. Most have a tap and a public toilet.
HENRO HOUSE: This is backpacker type accomodation just for pilgrims. You usually have a room to yourself, traditional Japanese bedding, a shower no meals ranging in price from $25-$50 per person
Minshuku: Like staying in someone’s house varies a lot, usually include meals again price varies depending on quality.
SHUKUBO: Temple accomodation, can be quiet expensive up to $100per person, usually includes meals. But allows you to participate in early morning service.
ZENKONYADO: A room in someone house who wishes to offer accomodation as a “osettai” so it’s free
TSUYADO: Free accomodation at a temple, can be anything from a bell tower to a garden shed and its free. We utilised the bell tower at temple 6.
JAPAN DAY 8
Temples 17-19 29km
Total KM’s walked in Japan 111
Accumulative total KM’s walked 1618
Today was probably the hardest day I have had on the road since we left Australia for lots of reasons...the distance , road walking, getting of track, my mood, just to name a few reasons. The trail today was through the city of Tokushima . Everywhere you looked there was a 1000 things to see.....signage, buildings cars people it was so visually busy and so my mind followed. Busy world equals busy mind, with a busy mind comes stress, fatigue, anxiety and complete overwhelm. My mind was just going at a 100 miles an hour, even at the temples I couldn’t calm it. So tonight I sit in a hut on the side of the road cocooned from the outside world and ponder, is this why society has become so manic? As we have become more developed and our scenery has become busier have our minds struggled to keep up with the onslaught on the senses.? It is no coincidence that places like Japan where lots of people live in this frantic environment, practices such as Buddhism is very popular. A practice that teaches you to calm the mind through meditation. Japanese also prize their gardens, although many our small they are extremely beautiful. I have also noticed that in the cities there is always green space, apartments in the city have pots of flowers there is a real effort put into creating beauty.
To top the day off, we were suppose to stop at a 7/11 to resupply for tomorrow and get dinner tonight, well we couldn’t find the 7/11 so had to go to a normal shop which didn’t have the variety of prepared foods as 7/11 does. So tonight we have ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner, bread for breakfast, chicken and cheese rolls for lunch and noodles for dinner tomorrow night.
HIGHLIGHT: Temple 19 it really was very beautiful
LOWLIGHT: Me and my attitude today
Grateful for........................ it’s a struggle today to find anything as I feeling totally depleted so I will dig deep as I know there is always something to be grateful for and gratitude grows the more you use it. Gratitude is no different than anything else. Simply practice and you will get better at it.
So I am grateful for my friends, I don’t have many but the ones that I do are the best. I am grateful for my amazing family Sam my beautiful daughter, my mum and the Spunky Rooster. And last but not least I am grateful this life, with all its hardships and shitty days, I am grateful that we have the opportunity, the physical ability and the courage to take life by the horns and run with it.
Is gifts that are given to pilgrims along the way. It is believe that by giving to a pilgrim, one is actually giving to Kobo Daishi, so it is considered impolite to refuse an offer of osettai. By giving, the person becomes part of your pilgrimage. Osettai should be receive with no obligation and no way of repaying the giver. It should be received with a simple thank yo and a give the giver a name tag. This is a very humbling exercise.here to edit.
JAPAN DAY 7
Temples 13-16 28km
Total km’s walked in Japan 82
Accumulative total of km’s walked 1589
Today in contrast to yesterdays glorious temple on the top of the hill, todays temples all seemed ancient and old. This contrast made me start thinking about the contrast in scenery. Day’s one & two , saw as walking through suburbia , day three we were into the mountains and then today we were in the country side. Each one different, each one beautiful in it’s on right. I flicked back over my photos and was amazed that each day I had taken roughly the same amount of pictures. So I had seen the beauty in the contrast, which led me to thinking in day to day life, do we see and acknowledge the beauty in the contrast? Scenery is an easy one to appreciate difference, most of us love the quiet gentleness of the country but are also impressed with the bright lights of the city but do we celebrate other contrasts. When all is going well in your life and something challenging comes along, do you get angry and put out or do you celebrate that life has thrown you a chance to become better or stronger? Looking at things as contrast rather than good and bad, or hard and simple changes your perspective. This reminds me of a quote I read “the sun loved the moon so much he died overnight to let her breath” until recently I thought it was just a quote but it is a story(see below) which I think really highlights that there has to be both light and dark in everyones’ life.
HIGHLIGHT: The little town with all the stuffed dolls in and around the town
LOWLIGHT: Sore feet
Grateful to day for laughter and jokes, due to the language barrier. Along the way we are making up stories about things we don’t understand. David believes that the village we walked through with all the life size dolls in it, represented all the people that had died in the village. I don’t think so there was to many of them. Grateful for the beautiful flowers everywhere. The Japanese gardens are filled with beautiful flowers, I have taken a lot of pictures. Grateful for prayers, at every temple that give me time to centre and commit to the process.
The Sad Story Of The Moon & The Sun
The Sun and the Moon passed each other as they did every day when day turned to night. "Good night Sun." the Moon would say as she rose above the earth. "Guard our people well Moon." the Sun would say as he left the sky to sleep. Moon would admire Sun's rays and Sun would admire Moon's gentle light. It was in this way that the two fell in love.
Moon thought about the situation all night as she watched her people from the night sky. When she met Sun as they were trading places again the next day, she called out to him. " Oh Sun, you shine so handsomely and I love you so very much." The Sun replied. " I love you Moon. I always have. When can we be together?" Moon thought about this for a long moment and then spoke softly. " People don't like the darkness of night. It scares children and makes people unable to see what is around them. We could stay together and never let the darkness of night fall on our people."
The Sun agreed to this and said " Come shine with me Moon!" The Moon and the Sun shined all day long as they watched their people. When the time for darkness came, Sun did not set. Things did not work as they planned. Many children below cried because they didn't want to sleep while Sun was still shining and the adults couldn't sleep either because the light from Sun and Moon made the Earth too bright for them to sleep. " Moon," Said Sun, very late into what should have been night time. " The people are weary and can not sleep due to my light." " Yes, agreed Moon. Let us both set so that we may be together and the people may sleep." Sun and Moon again dipped way, way down far below Earth. This however left Earth very, very dark with only tiny stars to make light for the people during night time.
This made things confusing for the people. They didn't know what time it was any more and many people slept well into what should have been day time. This went on for many months, confusing the people. They missed Sun and how he lit their days, helping plants grow and giving life to them and to the animals. They missed Moon and how she gave just enough of a soft glow to make them feel protected at night and how she kept watch over the night sky. Her appearance was what helped them ease into night fall. Pretty soon many people wrote letters and asked Wind to deliver them to Sun and Moon. Most of the letters stated that they missed the two lovers and they needed night and day to remain healthy and strong." After getting many of these letters, Sun and Moon knew the statements were true. Sun looked sadly at Moon. "I love being with you Moon, I love having your soft and lovely glow all to myself and I love you so much that it aches in side to tell you that we need to leave this place and go back to our people. I miss giving my people day light. They need me." The Moon sighed sadly. " Yes Sun, the people need day light and with day light they need night as well. I miss providing them light in the darkness and protecting them while they sleep. I love you, but, we must return to providing night and day for our people.
Sadly, the two agreed that the only times they could be together was the few moments they saw each other between night and day and day and night. And so is life.
At every temple a pilgrim must go through a protocol of cleansing, praying and offering the protocol goes as follows:
JAPAN DAY 6
Temple 11 & 12 15km
Total km’s walked in Japan 54
Accumulative total of km’s walked 1507
OMG Kobo Daishi you are not making my journey to Nirvana easy!!!Today marks the third day of walking and due to the all-day uphill climb I decide to carry my staff in my backpack and use my walking sticks. I am so glad I did. My good old stick pulled me up the hill, over ancient steps and through the gorgeous bamboo forrest. However having my staff in back pack gave me a very different perspective on the bells and their role in our journey. On everyone’s staff is a bell, which is suppose to scare of the vipers (snakes) on the trails. When carrying your stick the bells tend to only ring if you hit the ground with stick deliberately, so its intermittent. Today because my staff was rested in my backpack it rang constantly which got me thinking.... Are the bells suppose to scare of the physical vipers that slither on the ground or is their purpose more elaborate. Are they suppose to make you conscious of negative thoughts (Or mental vipers) that scare you so you can address them as they arise. Think about how many negative thoughts you have during the day...thoughts of not being good enough, of not be able to do something, regretful thoughts, worrying thoughts about the future. All stopping you from fulfilling your potential and not allowing you to live in the Now. What if every time you had one of these thoughts a little bell went off....a little ring to bring your conscious thoughts to the negative thought so you can replace it with a positive one. How much stronger would you be?
Tonight we are staying at a minshuku which is basically someone’s home. The great thing about this is everything from the accomodation to the food is authentic. This minshuku is a roadside shop and dinner was basically served road side. The meal was gorgeous and consisted of 5 little dishes. Tofu. edame, sliced cucumber, ginger & sesame seeds, miso and rice, A salad plate with marinated octopi, lettuce and tomato
HIGHTLIGHT: Has to be sitting down to dinner and sampling all of the little dishes
LOWLIGHT: Had to be that we peaked to early when climbing up the hill. We had climbed to the highest point on the map, so we sat down and had something to eat as we only had 3km to go to temple 12. When we started up again the trail went down hill and then up hill again sharply......this wasn’t on the map.
Today I am truely grateful for awareness. The awareness that comes from trying to squeeze every day to the max. Today I walked out of the beautiful forest and into warm sunlight. The path in front of me was lined with beautiful white flowers and straight pine trees and tall elegant bamboo. The sky was blue and at that moment tears of gratitude rolled down my cheek. I looked up into the sky and thanked god for my amazing life and then I turned to Kobo Daishi and said “thank you for creating this path so many years ago, it is not an easy path but one I walk with love in my heart and wonder in my eyes. I take you on this journey with me with honour.” I am grateful for other henro’s as their stories and journey become interwoven with mine. And last but not least I’m grateful for talking to Sam and hearing her voice happy.
As part of our attire as a pilgrim is the Sedge hat. (Sugesasa) written on the hat is 5 things in Sanskrit characters. One is Kobo Daishi (or as he is affectionately know Kukai). The next 4 are the 4 phases of enlightenment
Mayou ga yue ni sangria no shiro
JAPAN DAY 5
Temples 7-10 22km
Total km’s walked in Japan 39
Accumulative total km’s walked 1492
Starting this journey we always knew there would be a lot of steps to climb , they don’t build temples for easy access :). Today at one temple there was over 350 steps ......we are both developing tight buns. Today we had planned to get to temple 11, but slow going saw us only make it to number 10. The Onsen where we intended staying for the night was in-between 10 & 11 and by the time we reached the Onsen it was to late to then go and visit temple eleven, (Temples are only open between 7am - 5pm). So will have an early start tomorrow and do 11 on the way to the notorious 12.
Today I would say was as Japanese as it comes. We were awoken this morning with chanting from the temple. Then we saw lots of elderly farmers planting rice, we walked through rice fields and I went to my first Onsen. For those of you who don’t know an Onsen is a Japanese bathhouse. Each onsen is different depending on its facilities, but this one was nuts. So basically:
HIGHLIGHT: It has to be seeing the rice being planted
LOWLIGHT: Macca’s being 2 blocks further than we thought
Today I am grateful for somewhere dry to sleep. Tonights accomodation is 2 huts at the back of an Onsen - 1 for girls and 1 for boys. I am grateful for the practice of meditation, it is becoming easier for me. I am grateful for the Japanese lady in the Onsen for showing me what to do. It’s not that Im afraid of doing something wrong, its just I don’t want to incidentally offend anyone. The Onsen has a lot of protocols that have to be adhered to. I found it quite interesting that in such a modest society, walking around naked in the Onsen is quiet OK. I loved the atmosphere, it felt like a coffee catch up and relaxed massage all rolled into one.
The staff we carry everyday is called a Kongozue and is believed to be the embodiment of Kobo Daishi and thus must be treated with great respect. A few rules apply to the staff
JAPAN DAY 4
Temples 1-6 17km
Total km’s walked in Japan 17
Accumulative total of km’s walked 1471
Well the journey has began today we did the first 6 temples.
We started this morning at 8am with a Nun taking us to the temple to show us how to pray, we were both all thumbs. It was definitely a comedy act. Three trips back to our packs to get different things required for the ceremony, then candles flying everywhere, then no change for donation another trip back to the packs, cleansed our hands and back to pack again as no cloth to dry our washed hand.....you get the picture finally we are in front of the temple reciting the sutras. Well if Kobi Daishi wasn’t turning in his grave he would have been laughing so hard. Definitely a A for effort, and F for our Japanese. I must admit by the time we arrived at temple 6 we had the rhythm and order nearly right, the actual reciting of the sutras we still have a long way to go.
Tonights accomodation is a bell tower with just enough room for three, we are sharing the space with a young girl from Denmark Elvira.
HIGHLIGHT: Have to say a dinner from the 7/11 store , three ready made salads, delicious. After our eggs the other day and tonights dinner, I have to say five stars Japan 7/11.
LOWLIGHT: Unfortunately I have to say our reciting of the sutras, I don’t think anyone would even know that it was Japanese. Sorry Kobi Daishi I promise I will improve.
Tonight I am grateful we got through today reasonably easily, I am definitely feeling completely out of my comfort zone. I am grateful for the osettai we received today of a beautiful origami kimono, a refreshing green tea and a small towel for around our neck...the two latter definitely help combat the heat. I am as always grateful for the Spunky Rooster who keeps reminding me of the Pilgrims Oath which says.....” I will not complain if things do not go well while on the pilgrimage, but consider such experiences to be part of ascetic training. “
So tomorrow I will endeavour to improve my reciting of the sutras.
GANBATTE to tomorow