For anyone who might be reading and wondering what I’ve been up to in Kyoto, the answer is simple: not much! So, despite combining the two days into one post, this will be kept short.
After talking to Lawrence, I decided that I really should try to rest my knees, and I have been trying my best to not push them hard. I have mostly been wandering through streets and shops, browsing and shopping and picking up food and drinks along the way. I haven’t even done much sightseeing because it is tourist high season in Kyoto right now, and the crowds are massive and I can’t be bothered with the packed buses that make up the bulk of Kyoto’s public transportation system. I stick to anywhere I can get to by subway or bus or on foot.
One of the reasons why I chose to stay in Kyoto again after the pilgrimage was because I realized that I would be able to visit the Toji flea market that occurs every 21st of the month. I love the flea markets of Kyoto. They’re so lively…and a perfect place to cheaply feed my kimono collecting obsession.
As well, Toji is one of the three important sites related to Kobo Daishi (and the flea market there is known as "Kobo-san"). The other two are Mt. Koya (where I had Temple lodgings reserved for my final night in Japan) and Zentsuji, Temple 75 on the pilgrimage circuit, which I had visited already. Since I was going to Toji anyway, I figured I might as well get a stamp from there. The pilgrimage stamp books contain three extra pages for any other temples one might visit, and I got the idea from another henro’s blog to use one of those pages for Toji.
Habits are hard to break, I guess. Despite going to bed late and struggling to get to sleep last night, I still woke up at 6:30am. I stayed in bed for a while, enjoying the luxury of not having much to do.
Finally, after catching up on messages, eating a snack, and dozing a bit, I got ready, packed, and checked out a little before 10am. I immediately went to the train station and bought a ticket to Bando Station. I recalled my first day of the pilgrimage, where I missed the train by five or ten minutes and had to wait over an hour for the next one. Now I knew to take a picture of the train schedule ahead of time.
Sometimes, I enjoy reading and posting on Reddit. When I found myself in Kyoto with not much to keep me occupied, I posted on the Japan Travel subreddit, asking if anyone would like to hang out or see some sights (even though I had already seen the major ones). To my surprise, one person answered and we agreed to meet up at Ginkakuji, or the Silver Pavilion (which isn’t even silver; it was meant to be coated in silver to contrast the nearby Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji, but due to wars and the original owner’s death, it was continually delayed and then dropped altogether). He mentioned that he was still feeling a little overwhelmed by all there was to see in Japan and would appreciate someone to help him out.
I decided to do some actual sightseeing today rather than just wandering around the neighbourhood my hostel is located in. For today, I decided on Uji, which is a place I had meant to see on my last trip to Japan, but ended up not having the time or energy for it. Uji is located just south of Kyoto and is known for three things: it’s high quality green tea (virtually all the Japanese kinds, including sencha and matcha), Byodoin Temple (which dates back to the Heian Era and is nearly 1000 years old), and for being a significant location in the Tale of Genji, the first known novel (and written by a woman!).
My hostel bed is not the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept in in my life. It’s well used and has a depression in the middle of it, and as a result, my back was not terribly happy with me today. So, although my knees fared ok, my back was giving me some pains. However, I’m at least fairly accustomed to back pain, so I did some stretches before leaving the hostel late in the morning. I took a dose of ibuprofen and let it do its work. And for the first time in a while, I left off the compression splints to see how my joints would fare without the extra support. As another traveler in my hostel told me, my muscles should not get used to the extra support; they had to work and get stronger.
It was another lazy morning. I had nothing planned for the day, so I took my time getting up and out of bed and was easily the last person in my dorm room to get going. Granted, I’m probably the only person in the room who has been to Kyoto multiple times.
While I had use of the hostel’s wifi, I decided to check up on my finances to make sure I had enough money in my bank account to get through the next few weeks. I checked on my credit card balance, as well. To my happy surprise, I accidentally overpaid my last balance owed, so it was in a negative balance. In other words, I actually had money to spend!
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.