Day 1 – a good start despite the date

The little bus swept along the highway this morning as dark clouds hung low in the sky. Soon came the rain, sweeping against the windscreen as we forced our way into the storm. When we left Honshu we continued over the sea until the dark mountains of Shikoku loomed large, ahead of us. I was starting to consider buying a return ticket and doing something else. But then we dipped into the valley and arrived at Tokushima where the sun was shining but in an ominous way.

I checked straight into my hotel for 2 nights and then took the train to Temple No 1. First stop was the pilgrim outfitters where I was measured for my hakui jacket. Size LL (I’m normally medium) and I chose a budget end staff (kongozue) because the tradition is to leave it at Temple 88 where it is burned, providing you pay the 1000 yen fee. Finally I picked a stamp book (nokyocho). I will collect a stamp at each temple but this is no basic rubber effort. Here we have a page per temple which gets 3 stamps and is then covered in beautiful calligraphy.

Pretty soon afterwards, a few other brand new Shikoku pilgrims introduced themselves, perhaps seeking a role in my blog. Two French ladies (S&E) have just arrived in Japan and hadn’t slept for 3 days. A French Canadian man called Sebastian who was looking for a place to pitch his tent and a young French lady called サラ. None of them spoke a word of Japanese so we switched to English as my French is only suitable for entertainment purposes.

We were all feeling a little self conscious in our brand new gleaming white uniforms like the first day of school and none of us could properly coordinate our temple routine despite my having practiced for the past month. My approach is to do the bow then the cleansing followed by the donation, bow, bell, prayer, bow and name slip. But the others had bought candles and incense and we didn’t know where they fitted in. S&E fell asleep so サラ and I set off for Temple 2. She told me she is terrified of spiders and snakes and could I go first through the long grass?

We completed 3 temples and just four kilometres but it was a fine start and we have a plan to resume tomorrow, at least for those who set their alarms.

Temple 1 pagoda

Temple 1
Kobo Daishi

Temple 3

Temple 2
Temple 2

14 comments on “Day 1 – a good start despite the date

  1. Glad you are on your way and have some company. It all looks very different, but fabulous!

    • Hi Mike, I’m so glad to be finally walking even 4 kilometres. Not many churches here…

  2. Jane Van Buren

    Hi Tim,
    The book of stamps will be a treasured piece of art when you are done.

    • Hi Jane, it will be a great souvenir just like our credentials. They also offer a large scroll but it’s super expensive and quite heavy so I skipped that. Each temple charges 300 yen for the book stamp and the scroll stamp is 500 plus 5000 yen for the scroll. I’d be broke before half way. Tim

  3. Tassie Kaz

    And so it begins…
    Wow, you’re finally underway & everything ahead will be amazing.
    Embrace it, treasure every moment & enjoy.
    Gambatte dear Tim! 🇯🇵 👟 🎒

  4. Miyuki

    Amazing start ティムさん!
    I’m glad you have a company to walk with to start. うつくしい おてら ですね。
    I’m so exited to read this report. I’m already looking forward to the next one. I’m glad you got the white top and stick! Looks proper and ready for the enlightenment. Please take good care ティムさん!

    • I’m very happy to have fellow pilgrims especially at the start when we are all very nervous. I think the enlightenment comes towards the end… ティム

  5. Happy days. I wish you all the very best. A good first day and may you have many more. Buen Camino.

  6. Huguette Charaudeau

    Hi Tim
    Your Pilgrims is fantastic and photos allow us to dream. Are there no cats in Japan?
    And I see the french gastronomy doesn ‘t live you.. Vive les pains au raisin c est le péché mignon de Didier.
    Good trip” au pays du soleil levant”

    • Hi Huguette welcome. I think breakfast will now be rice and miso. Very Japanese.

  7. Hi, Tim,

    Great to see you are off on the road again. Your photos of Kyoto brought back fond memories of むしあついてんき and reminded me of the magic of being in Japan.
    (Also, kudos for the illusion with the inverted heron picture.) And I did warn you about the rabbit warren at the station!
    I’ll keep up with your progress. Congratulations for getting there! What an adventure.

    • Hi Dave good to hear from you. It’s magic but difficult at the same time. thanks

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