Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Meeting Survivor of Hiroshima Bomb:

We left Onaru Guesthouse at 7:45 and our hostess escorted us out offering directions and a wave goodbye. What a wonderful start to our day.

Wave goodbye from our friendly host.

We strolled through town and on the outskirts we passed a friendly young girl with her Dad. In return for the gift of her beautiful smile, I gave her one of the nameslips carried by Ohenros.

Young girl holding my Namesl

In case you are wondering, Ohenro Nameslips (Osamefuda) are used as a type of business card with your name and information written on them. They are left at temples you visit along the pilgrimage or given to those with whom you connect in some way. They are also given to people who offer alms (o-settai) to you.

A Nameslip with name, address, date. I also like to put a note of good wishes on the back. Kukai, or Kobo Daishi, the patron saint of this Pilgrimage is sitting at the top.

Exiting town we veered up into the forest and to T65. The Triangle temple had a beautiful huge old cherry tree. A guy sitting outside at a table offered us a most unusual osettai, having us sit and drawing a caricature of us. Very nice. He had been drawing for ohenros for 5 years but not every day. His wife was there helping as well.

Mika holding our caricature, with the artist and his wife.

We then continued up a bit and stopped at a viewpoint with a table and chairs a family set up for ohenros. and then down and back up on road on a hot, humid afternoon to Minshuku Okada an old but very comfortable Inn. To continue on would make for a long, difficult day so we stopped here early in the afternoon after just 22K for the night. So glad we did for it was a most special day.

Akira’s Garden with Bonsai plants

Our host was a spry, friendly 90 years old man, Akira. After our baths, we sat out in his tranquil Bonsai Garden relaxing and he took us over to his small pond with a couple of large colorful fish. He explained to Mika that he placed the 2 carps in the pond almost 60 years ago. Then he reached into the water and petted them. That’s a first, didn’t know you could pet fish. Mika followed his lead.

Mika petting the 60 year old Carps

His dinner included a hamburger and delicious cooked sardines and sashimi. Then a 30 minute talk by Akira on tomorrow’s walk up the mountain to Temple 66. I was laughing a bit as his talk was detailed and included drawings and photos, sensing it was like the Pearl Harbor bombing raid briefing on one of the Japan aircraft carriers on December 7, 1941.

Akira has walked the 88 Temple pilgrimage 8 times. I asked him about the war and it turns out he was a 16 year old boy in Hiroshima when the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. He was outside the city of course on some sort of errand walking back when the bomb exploded. I felt bad putting him in a position to remember but he seemed ok talking about it. Most of his family and friends were killed. ¥6500

Forest Shrine
Dinner at Akira’s

12 May/Day 30:

Akira escorted us out and waved goodbye and gave us osettai lunch of rice balls.

Akira offering us our Osettai lunch and a wave goodbye.

Tough uphill but a good walk in the mountain forest 1 ½ hours up to Temple 66. Mika did a good job of selecting last night’s minshuku to break up 800 meter ascent. We walked through the new wood gate.

Akira has done alot of the improvements on the trail to make it easier for us ohenros.

This is a most interesting temple with a Goddess of one wish. Today is Mothers Day in the USA so I lit a candle for my Mom and Grandmother’s; Healy and Considine. Also wished for their happiness by crawling through a holed sculpture and sitting on an eggplant.

We rested enjoying the ambiance of this the highest temple, Unpenji, on our Pilgrimage at 911 meters.

Walking out we passed a few hundred interesting statues known as Rakansan. Some are laughing, some crying, some shouting, some meditating. Among the figures you are supposed to find one that embodies your spirit.

Rakansan statues.

Of course after the long ascent we descended through down the mountain through the forest to the road before a long walk in the sun to Temple 67. We entered through an old gate with two wooden statues by Unkei from around 1,200 A.D.

Continuing on we meandered into town and stopped at pastry shop where a woman immediately gave us two sweets each. We took a break  eating our osettai snack. Reaching Minshuku Bansui we dropped off our packs and walked to Temples 68 and 69.

We stopped at a viewpoint of the Zenigata Sand Coin Sculpture. It is said to bring long life and luck in money matters to anyone who sets sight on the large sculpture, 345 meters in circumference.

Zenigata Sand Coin Sculpture

Crossing a bridge there were 4 grey herons which I thought were statues so uniform and then one flew off.

The 4 herons

We returned to the Minshuku for our baths, followed by our tea and then a quiet dinner. 32k ¥6100

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Happy to answer any questions and help in any way.