As the ryokan a little past Temple 88 was fully booked, the minshuku near Temple 88 was too close (in other words, I would arrive far too early), and the nearest lodging was quite far from Temple 88, I figured I might as well get myself back to Tokushima via bus and train.
So, since I didn’t have far to go, I took my time again getting up and ready for the day. When I did and checked out, it was already about 7:40am. I gave an osamefuda to the very friendly and helpful owner, Takeshi, and even got to say goodbye to Kotaro, his ridiculously adorable son, who was showing off some toys to some other guests, but spared a second to wave goodbye and give me a high-five. I needed no better encouragement than that!
I “slept in” til about 7am or so before getting ready and going down to the common area to eat breakfast.
I got to chat with the German henro a little more, as well as meet the owner’s 2-year-old son, Kotaro. He showed us some of his books and his half-eaten bowl of breakfast and was just a super cute bundle of energy. Eventually, though, I finished my meal and had to go. I had temples to visit.
My original plan was to take today to visit as many temples around Takamatsu as I could, then use the next day to sightsee or rest. However, the weather forecast called for heavy rain all day, so I made the decision to take today off and then see temples the day after, which was supposed to have better weather.
I let myself sleep until about 6am. A couple of my other roommates were up and getting ready, making it difficult to snooze, but in the end, it was for the best, anyway. Maybe it was Kobo Daishi’s way of getting me up and moving.
I quickly got ready and packed up my things. The cyclist henro was trying to find something for his bike and I did my best to help him search, but I had a train to catch. He looked genuinely worried about losing it and I felt bad, but he waved me off and insisted I get going.
I slept on and off throughout the night, which was a bit frustrating, but by morning, I was in such a deep sleep that I hadn’t even stirred when my roommate got up and left early in the morning. She had either been very quiet or I had been that tired.
I woke up around 8:30am and took my time getting ready. I wasn’t even out the door until almost 9:30am, although the train would not arrive until 9:54am.
I slept really, really well. Part of the reason was because of my very comfortable bed. The other reason was because I was simply that tired. The last 3 days, I clocked 30-34km per day and climbed up a 900m mountain on one of those days. Despite the fact that I slept well, I still felt an all-encompassing exhaustion in my body and mind. Alana felt the same and the two of us were slow getting ready.
It was a slow morning and I was sluggish waking up. The last three days or so had been long and hard, and my body just wanted to sleep and sleep and sleep.
But I had a hostel reservation to keep, so I had to make it as far as Zentsuji City. The plan was to base myself there for a few nights to see temples in the area, sightsee a bit, and rest.
Unpenji, along with Yokomineji, had been on my mind ever since I left Kochi Prefecture. They were two of the highest points in the pilgrimage and I dreaded them. After getting past Yokomineji, Unpenji was next, standing at an imposing 900+ meters.
I got up early again because I was so far from the main henro route. I was actually a little disoriented when I woke up. I had dreamed that I was back home and waking up in Japan, I was a bit confused for a few seconds. I had a moment of homesickness before henro business took over.
My name is Marianne and this is my journal about that time I decided to complete the 88 Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage. It was both the most difficult thing I've ever done and the most amazing thing I've ever done. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.