Departed Bansui at 7:30 with a peaceful walk along the river quite a while before veering north to Temple 70 where Main Temple is a national treasure and there was a picturesque 5 story pagoda.
A sweet cleaning lady gave us little treat bags osettai with a note included telling us to place refuse in a trash bin.
Today is 13 May and the 31st day of pilgrimage. The days are starting to get hot and humid which is expected in this part of Japan. Most people avoid walking the pilgrimage in the summer. Although, the hot sun caused us to stop in for a drink at a Mini Stop(like a 7/11) and they had a mango sundae which was refreshing and delicious.
Eventually we had to step up a hill 200 meters of sluggish walking to Temple 71 amidst a forest.
Coming out of 71 we walked through a bamboo forest to Temple 72 where we stopped at an Udon Noodle shop and had a delicious bowl of noodles osettai. The owner also gave me some toothpick holders hand made by a guy in his 80’s.
Then a short walk to 73 where Kukai legend says he jumped off a cliff and was saved by Buddha.
Continuing on to Temple 74 where we had conversation with guy who looked like a monk but just had a great costume.
And finally Temple 75, Zentsuji(named after Kukai’s father) where Kukai was born. They had 500 statues together which was both eerie and cool.
We realized that we forgot to get out stamp at 74 so when Tomoyoshi Kubo picked us up he drove us there first. Mika somehow found out about Tomo who has a home a few miles away and frequently offers pilgrims a room in his home and meals all osettai.
Tomo escorted us to our room where we bathed before heading to his home next door where he cooked and served a delicious dinner of chicken and salad. And beer. Good conversation. He truly loves the Pilgrimage and ohenros. He told us an interesting story about a famous poet arrested for murder, who escaped, changed his name and walked the Pilgrimage.
We got to talking about hard core pilgrims and Tomo explained that Gandalf who I met around Temple 30 is actually, Miyama Mugyo, meaning deep mountain. He is 80 and has walked the 88 Temple Pilgrimage 104 times. He also uses his car and walks 10k and cuts grass and trims and then walks back.
An incredible day and wonderful evening spent with our new friend Tomo. Tomo also invited Mika to return in June with her sister Keiko, after I move on to Ireland.