Saturday, September 4, 2004

The Hike

I survived the typhoon from earlier this week. I'm back in Tokushima now - seems like eons ago that I was last here. The only signs of the typhoon are a lot of strewn branches and broken trees in the mountains. Life here is back to normal.
Hiking hasn't been too bad and I've been making good progress, although getting lost is frustrating. Spent all day yesterday hiking with two Japanese guys - one 61 years old and the other 22. They spoke a little English, so it wasn't too bad. I've found decent places to campout the last couple of nights. and even hit the onsen (hot bath) last night which was heavenly. I'm rewarding myself with a hotel in Tokushima tonight.

The legs feel lead filled and the feet are quite sore as are shoulders. nothing a good nights sleep won't cure. The only real concern is a nasty blister on my left pinkie toe that's been flaring up.

Time is running out on my internet time here. As always, I'm never sure when my next brush with an internet connection will occur. It's a bit different then on a bike when you can make 5 - 10 km diversions with no problem.


There's this whole outfit one can buy for the pilgramage - white shirt with some kanji, white pants, white sandals, peasent's hat, walking stick, beads, vestment things (or whatever it is those things that are hung around one's shoulder's are called), a little bag to hold your books (one for stamps and calligraphy and one for little slips of paper each temple gives you) incense and candles. One can easily spend $200+ getting outfitted. I went with a book for the stamps/calligraphy and a walking stick. Lost the walking stick (which was really just a cheap pine stick with a fabric handle and a bell on it) after 4 hours. Guess I wasn't meant to have that. But the book has become a driving force behind my journey. Must fill all 88 pages. Must fill all 88 pages.

At each temple, one does various things as well. water on the hands, go up to an altar and clap, chant, ring bell, light incense, light candle, drop coin, drop name sheet in bin, get booked signed etc, etc. Never having been a big ritual kinda guy, I just prefer to drop my name slip in the bin, drop a coin (good way to get rid of those 1 and 5 yenners) and get my book signed. Although after hiking all day over mountains and arriving half dead at a temple, I'm starting to feel the need to do a little more. At least ring the bell, maybe light some incense. whatever.

Usually the only people with the full outfit are the little tour groupies (usually elderly women) that arrive in their van. I'll be there on the bench, recovering, and in they came. in their pristene white outfits, they go around - water, chant, bell, book, whatever else. Back out they go, into their van and off to the next temple. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to see if I can move my legs, which feel like they're filled with lead. Not to be too critical (since Takuya's grandmother did it this way), but all I'll say is this - we may be on the same path, but we're on entirely different journeys.


Day: 4
Temples: 17
Distance: 124 km (this is camp site to camp site, so it includes double tracking, getting lost, wild goose chases, and things like that)
Wt: 72.5 kg

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