A night of total luxury, last night. And this morning I was expecting a light breakfast of coffee and bread, perhaps with some jam. But my request hadn’t quite been followed. The coffee and cream awaited me at 6.30 but so was the full Japanese breakfast crammed into a club sandwich. How could I refuse? I crunched my way through all the little fish and other things reporting how delicious everything was. The owners are musicians and I saw a piano and 2 keyboards (one from Sweden) plus 4 electric guitars. Some huge speakers, open reel Akai tape recorder and a classic old Pioneer amplifier. Last night will live on as one of the best memories of this pilgrimage.
Today was a day of two halves. First I walked 20Km along the Route 55 coastal highway. Unfortunately the sea view was mostly obscured by the enormous tsunami defenses. Then, after leaving my bag at tonight’s inn, I climbed a 424m hill to visit Temple 27. On the way up I met Phil from Sacramento, California, coming down. I asked him if there were any pilgrims around. He’d met a few but mostly the people I met on Day 1. Erika is nearby, サラ is ahead having taken the train, Earl “hey dude I’m from California” is motoring on and Sebastian is ploughing a lone farrow. I was able to add Sandrine and the Canadian to the tally.
It was a very steep climb to the temple. There was a trail plus a winding road. Towards the top the trail joined the road and 6 minibuses packed with Japanese pilgrims drove past, all cheering me. They were all keen to hear about my pilgrimage and I managed to tell them I come from Rondon and I’m walking all 88 temples in about 22 months.
I joined them for prayers. This was an intensely religious experience for them. On the other hand I was walking the whole pilgrimage so mutual respect prevailed. I made a short video, only about 15 seconds so you can get an idea of how things should be done. Lots of candles, lots of incense and then the stamp books. But not just books. They all had the large scrolls with wooden supports which are stamped like the books and will make an impressive display when they eventually complete the pilgrimage, probably in a couple of years time. They also had their pilgrim vests stamped in each temple and they will be buried in these most holy of items.