After breakfast in Starbucks, Tokushima, I set off along the straight and rather tedious main road out of town with the usual industrial attractions. The nice thing about this sort of walking is that you can drift off into dreamland without fear of getting lost. Navigation was simple: just keep walking until McDonalds and then turn right and follow the Kanji signs for Temple 18.
My two French friends had a late start and took the train part of the way but then lost ground by walking in the wrong direction from the station. We met by chance in Temple 18 and walked to Temple 19 which is the first barrier temple. In order to advance past a barrier temple you must be worthy of undertaking the pilgrimage. Kobo Daishi decides and if he feels you’re insincere, the show is over. There are 3 more barrier temples to come.
The Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage is like a giant board game. You get off to a flying start with 19 temples before you can catch your breath and then the fun begins. Tomorrow there are two temples on different mountains followed by a long trail across the wilds to reach the guest house. Will it rain? This afternoon I was horrified to see a dancing egret in a rice paddy. There is a legend about the horrors that await anyone seeing a dancing egret on a certain bridge. I’ll check the details and let you know tomorrow if I’m affected.
The temperature has dropped to 26 degrees but that’s still plenty hot enough for an ice cream and a Lawson store duly obliged. These convenience stores are a blessing to pilgrims. You can buy anything. Good coffee and croissants? Hai! Ice cream? Hai! iPhone charger? Hai! Christmas dinner? Hai!
I always ring the main temple bell to announce my arrival