On April 24, I bid Kyoto goodbye and moved on to Osaka. I mostly wandered around Kyoto for a bit and took the train to Osaka in the late afternoon.
As expected, Osaka felt utterly overwhelming. Kyoto had felt big and busy compared to quieter Shikoku, but Kyoto had nothing on Osaka, which is known for being a large, modern city that is a little crazy and a bit different.
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.
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.
For the first time a while, I slept in…well, slept in until about 8:30, which to me, is sleeping in. My two other roommates were up earlier and packed up their things and checked out. I took my time waking up, waited til they left, and then got up and ready myself.
I didn’t end up leaving until about 9:30am. Despite the extra sleep, I felt a bit sluggish. I made my way to Imabari Station, which was practically next door, and went into the bakery/café there. I picked out a variety of pastries and ordered some milk tea, then sat down and enjoyed. I felt happy and relaxed, having nowhere in particular to go and delicious bread in my stomach. Again, any change from the traditional rice, fish, and soup was a welcome change.
Although there were none of the 88 temples in Uwajima, it had been on my “To See” list for a while because it is the location of one of only 12 original castles left in Japan. In other words, it’s main keep/tower was the original structure from when it was built hundreds of years ago, having survived fires, natural disasters, and wars. Most castles in Japan are reconstructions. However, Uwajima is a small city and out of the way, so I never had the time or opportunity to visit…until now!
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’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).
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!).
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!
I took my time waking up, as I had been up late last night finding a place to stay on the mainland. I woke up on my own around 8am or so, and again, took my time getting ready and packing.
I “slept in” until about 8:30 (boy, does one’s definition of sleeping in change depending on circumstances; back home, on my days off, it was an effort to wake up before 9:30-10:00). I noticed right away that is was actually easy to get out of bed and my knees were feeling quite a bit better. I could only hope that they stayed that way.
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.