We continued on walking through a populated city, which is one of the only downsides of this pilgrimage. There are 126 Million people living in Japan, about 40% of the population of the USA, living in an area about the size of California. Shikoku Island is the smallest of the 4 main islands making up Japan, and has a population of only 4 Million. But on pilgrimage you learn to accept the bad with the good, and while there is considerable urban walking, there is plenty of beautiful countryside and seashore as well.
This morning we walked down a highway for an hour before traversing a forested hill where we got lost a few times but eventually made it back into a town. But not before passing a large European Christian Church. Mika explained that is not a Church but a wedding venue. Japanese like Church weddings but not from a religious perspective. After the ceremony in the fake shirt they go to a nearby hall where they have the party.
Entering the town we walked along a fairly busy road before reaching an osettai fishing store where man and woman provided nice tea and fresh orange juice.
Suddenly, the woman came in talking frantically, and the guy went running out into from the shop into the house. She looked awake and aware when an ambulance showed up and took her away. Hopefully, she is ok. Her ancestor had a ryokan and souvenir shop here over 200 years ago. The older woman started this osettai.
We got to the train station when a French Ohenro, Jean-Pierre, came up remembering us from the beginning of Temple 12 ascent, 2 weeks earlier. He was going to a kimono shop and I showed him pictures of Mika in kimonos.
We took a short train ride to near Temple 41 and walked to 42 afterwards before steep ascent to 43 eventually getting to Minshuku Miyako at 5:30. Had our own bath and nice dinner with 80+ year old couple owners and 85 year old man who had lost his wife and son to cancer. He was very lonely but had a good time that night. Delicious fish dinner of seabream and fried horse mackerel marinated in spicy vinegar.
4 May: Had nice breakfast with the owners liking how I devoured their food when so many westerners eat little. We then walked to Temple 43 and afterwards walked through mountains to Highway 56 and then followed that. Had a fun stop mid-morning for ice cream. Sitting outside the 7/11 enjoying the refreshing treat, just like when a schoolkid.
Walked on stopping at a rest stop for a bit and then we saw an ohenro welcome sign in Japanese. I am fortunate to be walking with Mika as I would have just continued on but we crossed the street, and entered the building of a frozen food storage business. 3 workers provided us with Inis cold tea and snacks and advice on the walk ahead.
We were soon back in the hills, up another 200 meters before stopping at the site of an ancient sun and moon god with a round disc. Then down the mountain to the road and stopped at an octopus dumpling restaurant for a snack.
Good but not as good as little old lady near Temple 37. Continued on into Ozu City arriving at Tokiwa Ryokan. Very good hot bath for stretching. Walked into dining room and guy almost had a heart attack because i forgot to remove my hallway slippers. The Japanese are very serious about keeping everything immaculately clean and in order. When you enter the Ryokan from outside, there were slippers to change into. Then you change into bathroom slippers and here they had dining room slippers. Still getting used to it but it certainly is clean and orderly for sure.
Another good bong