Day 22 – o-settai

Sure enough there was chanting at 6am in the temple but I was already awake from the first train past my window. I had a quick look inside the temple after half an hour or so and then it was over and Sandrine and I set off.

There is a Family Mart on the road out of town, so we stopped there for breakfast (coffee and croissants). Today was a 30Km day so I bought a banana as well.

We were just getting ready to leave Family Mart when a man came up to me and said settai. He gave me a bag containing a bunch of bananas and some sweets. There is a long standing tradition in Shikoku of settai which means “giving to pilgrims”. It’s an important part of the 88 Temple pilgrimage and in former times Pilgrims would beg for food to help them undertake their pilgrimage. Even today some pilgrims believe it is so important that they knock on a certain number of doors every day and chant some sutras in the hope of finding dinner.

The locals are very happy to support pilgrims because they believe that Kobo Daishi walks with every pilgrim. A small gift of settai could pay dividends. I’ve received a huge amount of kindness and generosity already but this was the first time someone came up to me with a formal settai. We had a chat while Sandrine wrote one of the prayer slips which we leave at temples and which you should give to anyone offering settai. And it is essential to accept settai. Even if you’ve just bought your banana and you don’t particularly want to carry another kilogram of them.

Our walk today continued to follow Route 56 down the coast of the south west peninsula but there were many diversions onto hill tracks and through villages or along the shore to make for a very pleasant day’s walk. The temperature continues to reach 30 degrees.

Tonight we are staying in a minshuku right on the beach. It’s called Takahama and they cooked us an excellent dinner. They presented a choice of dinner at 1500, 1000 and 700 yen. The 1500 meal included fish and the 1000 meal didn’t. We opted for fish. We are also promised bread for breakfast.

There are still two more days of walking before we reach the cape and the next temple.

I settai in Family Mart
Pilgrims hang prayers to mark the way
A Japanese pilgrim in front of us

View from my room
After photo of my dinner

2 comments on “Day 22 – o-settai

  1. Hi Tim – not much of that dinner left – you were hungry despite your surplus bananas. Looks a beautiful walk and together with the kindness your day must have felt complete. David

  2. Looks like you enjoyed your meal! It is wonderful the way beautiful people are so very kind to pilgrims.

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