Sunday, April 6, 2008

Catchup post 6: Shikoku Pilgrimage Part 2 of Day 2, Sunday March 17

I decided to break the post here because this is when we made it to Temple 10 and met a very nice Japanese man who talked to us, and wrote to us, in English about the temple, and Kobo-Dashi, and the pilgrimage as a whole.

This is a carving that we found at Temple 10, Kirihataji Temple, or the temple of weaving cutting cloth. 

Brian, the man we met, and Brian's sister, Megan, as the man is telling us the story of the temple. Once, when it was cold out, a man came to the temple, where Kirahatiji was weaving beautiful cloth. The man came and asked for shelter, and she gave it to him, and even gave him a blanket made of beautiful cloth. Later he revealed himself to be Kobo-Dashi, and after that he included the temple as one of the original Japanese Buddhist temples. This is pretty much what the man wrote to us. I don't have an exact copy, but it was a simple story.

Here he is telling us about the teachers of Kobo-Dashi.

These are the 9 rings on top of the secondary temple roof. Nine is an important Buddhist number because 10 is perfection, and 9 is as good as you can get no matter how hard you try.

It was here that the man we met talked to us about the pilgrimage as a whole and encouraged us to complete it, if not now then at another time. Then, when was talking about the mountain between temples 11 and 12 he pointed to each of the guys in our group and said it would take them 5 hours, but when he pointed to the girls he said it would take us 6, maybe 7 hours. When I argued the point, by pointing at myself and saying, "no five hours," he kept fast and insisted on six.

Now I think the gauntlet has been thrown to my feet. I will, one day, return to Shikoku, and complete the pilgrimage, and the mountain between 11 and 12 will take me less than five hours. 

After we talked to the man at some length about the temple he was astounded by how far we still had to go until we could get back to Tokushima to get our bus. He insisted that he would lead us to the train station that would take us to Tokushima, so we left the temple and began our walk home.

He was a kind man, yet our American senses of "don't get in strange cars with strange people" held fast even though he insisted that three of us ride with him to the train station. I myself stayed out of the car, but Harish, Jeremy and Brian rode with him while the rest of us walked.


I think I've seen every method of farming in 2 days.

A beautiful sun still in the sky during the afternoon. 

A river with boats.

I think this is a popular sport.

We found a town with a train station, and it was pretty far from the temple. And, of course, it had its own religious grounds.

Shinto Tori gates lining a path.

A castle!

We were barked at by many dogs during the trip, and almost attacked by a couple when we were on the nature trail between Temples 4 and 5. 

Isn't this a cute little child? We met him at the train station. He was shy, but his daddy encouraged him to talk to us.

I hope that kid grows up to appreciate the differences in culture and in physical apperance. Overall people were incredibly nice during the trip. More than once people would stop and just give us gifts, simply because we were on the pilgrimage. Small gifts, but like candy and other small tokens of support. Standing at an intersection, if someone was standing with us, they would usually start a conversation, they'd ask where we were from and if we were enjoying ourselves. Whenever we stopped for directions people were very nice and understanding of our poor Japanese skills. 

My Japanese skills, over the weekend exploded to nearly 10 times their status on Friday before the trip. I was no longer shy about trying to speak, and I was no longer shy about acting things out.  I am immensely glad that I went, and it was probably one of the best trips I could've made while in Japan because my faith in Japanese kindness was restored. It's not that Tokyo people have been mean, it's just that they've completely ignored me more often than not, which is a pretty clear comment to me. But I was glad to have a different experience.

There we are, our last stop before Tokushima and then home to Tokyo. It was a long journey for just a couple days. I estimate that we walked about 30 miles all in all.

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