I caught the 06.37 train from Tokushima back to Temple 3 with S&E to meet サラ and continue our pilgrimage. But we never did meet サラ. She was staying in a local minshuku (a basic accommodation with dinner and breakfast) and the owner insisted on briefing her for an hour on temple etiquette while we waited at Temple 3. After that she was mistakenly driven back to Temple 1 so we set off, hoping she would catch us up.
Temple 4 was oh so beautiful, nestled in the hills. We were hot and exhausted having completed the near 6 Km walk and a kind monk produced a huge bunch of delicious local grapes, each one cold and bursting with sweet juice. I thanked him and tried to tell him I came from England, something I’ve practiced numerous times in class. He didn’t understand at first and then he laughed and said he thought I was saying something in English. Apparently he studied English for 6 months in North Finchley, where I lived as a boy.
By early afternoon, we had reached Temple 5, which was 1.9 Km further. Sebastian arrived with a man in a ragged pilgrim outfit. I greeted him in Japanese and he replied “hey dude, I’m from California”. He is making his 2nd circuit of Shikoku.
I decided to slip into Via Francigena mode for the remainder of the afternoon and set off alone, reaching Temple 9 just before closing time. A kind man drove me to the station for my train back to Tokushima and my 2nd night’s hotel booking. That saved me an hour’s march. Tomorrow’s plan is to meet and stay in the same ryokan and then we have a very serious mountain to climb on Monday.
See how you get your stamp at Temple 5