The two henro convinced me last night that I would have enough time to see the nearby Tsukiyama Shrine, catch the bus to Sukumo City, and get to Temple 39. So, that was the plan, as well as take a bus to my hotel near Temple 40, which I would visit the next morning.
My futon was thin but I slept heavily, waking up only once due to the fierce winds outside rattling the windows. I had thought it was raining, but when I left the inn in the morning, everything was dry, so I figured the winds had simply been that strong. I woke up early, around 5am, and lay in my futon for a full 15 minutes before getting up to turn off my alarm before it went off. Breakfast was at 6am and I had more than enough time to pack up my things and get ready.
I was happy to wake up and find out the rain had definitely passed. I hoped the weather would finally be good today.
I quickly got ready and checked out by 7am. No one was at the reception desk, so I simply left my key, having already paid when I checked in and not wanting to disturb the owner in case he was still sleeping or busy. I made a quick stop at the nearby Lawson’s and bought a simple cream bun for breakfast and an onigiri for later. I had snacks in my bag already, so I figured it would be enough for the day.
Since the first bus to Cape Ashizuri didn’t leave Nakamura Station until 8:20, I had a leisurely like morning. I went to breakfast, which was a huge buffet spread with both Western and Japanese dishes. I was impressed and glad I had paid for it. But as I took my tray to a seat by a window, I was disappointed to see that it was still raining. Although I was taking the bus to Cape Ashizuri, I had wanted to check out the western side of the peninsula, which I have heard is quite beautiful and is skipped by most henro in favour of a shorter route that requires backtracking along the east coast. I was determined to still walk parts of the trail rather than rely on buses and trains all the time.
I took my time waking up in the morning, but still couldn’t fall back asleep around 7:00am. Waking up at such an hour is still pretty late for a henro. Most are up and out walking by 7:00. Still, breakfast didn’t start til 6:45am and I had decided, after much deliberation, to take the ferry across the harbour, and it wouldn’t leave the nearest port until 10:10am. I had thought of walking around the little bay, but thought the ferry would be fun (and relaxing) to ride.
I woke up a bit later than I wanted but still managed to be out of the hotel at 6:30. I had left my belongings behind, planning to make the climb up to the temple, then return to my hotel to check out and pick up my backpack. Temple 35 was on the side of a mountain, thankfully not at the very highest point, but still required a short climb. The less I had to carry my backpack around, the better.
It was a restless sleep. I had an ambitious day planned – to walk to Tosa City and hopefully manage to get to Temple 35 before getting to my hotel, some 30km distance of walking total – but I had to catch an early morning bus to Temple 32 from the Kochi Station bus terminal. Added to that, the walk involved a short ferry ride, and the ferry departed only once an hour. If I messed things up and got my timing wrong, I would be way behind. Luckily, I managed to book a room at a business hotel, so check-in time mattered less than at a minshuku or ryokan (where you need to arrive by about 5pm at the latest in order to have time to wash and have dinner in time).
I’m not gonna lie, I like Kochi City. It’s a small city by Japanese standards, but it’s nice and there’s enough to keep a tourist entertained for a day or so without being too big or overwhelming. At the same time, it has all the conveniences that come with being in a city, which contrasts with the rather more austere rural areas that make up most of Shikoku (especially Kochi Prefecture).
For the first time in a while, I was woken up by my alarm. I had had difficulty getting to sleep last night even though I was completely exhausted, so I estimated I only managed about 6 hours of sleep. The first thing I noticed was the soreness in my legs. Thankfully, it wasn’t my joints; it was my muscles, which was to be expected. Most henro, by this point, had walked many days and their bodies had adjusted. I had taken a break, so my muscles were still getting used to the exertion of the walk. Oh well.
I woke up early in the morning with a raging migraine. To make matters worse, the walls in my hotel were paper thin and the person in the room next to me had their alarm go off at 6am sharp and they didn’t turn it off, and when they did, they kept hitting snooze for an hour. To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement.
My plan today was to take a bus down the southeast coast to Cape Muroto-Misaki, which is where Temple 24, Hotsumisakiji, is located. Then, I would walk the ~30km to my hotel in the town of Nahari, visiting Temples 25 and 26 on the way. Ideally, I would start very early, but I realized that today was a Sunday, which meant that the earliest bus that left Kannoura Station was not until 7:44am. On every other day of the week, the earliest bus started at 7:14am. Oh well. There was nothing I could do about that.
Again, I woke up several times throughout the night but still felt rested somehow by the time I was ready to get up. To my happy surprise, my ankle was no worse than yesterday, although it wasn’t really any better, either. Still, I could walk on it, and that’s what mattered.
Breakfast was simple but good. They also served us natto, but remembering my experience at Sudachi-kan, I left it unopened.
My plan for the day was to mostly rely on public transportation, both to save time and to save my knees and ankle, so I took my time checking out. I left by about 7:45am. My task as soon as I left the inn was to find the bus stop that would take me to Yamaguchi Naka, the bus stop the ropeway staff had told me about. If I stopped there, it was only about a 3km walk to Temple 22, Byodoji.
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.