Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. A WWII Cemetery and Many Temples:

Today’s morning began with a 50 minute walk to the quiet Temple 54. Continuing afterwards meandering through a small village, a woman came running up and invited us into her yard and invited us to pick some ripe red cherries from the tree in her yard.  

“How about some cherries”
“why not”

Leaving the village we found ourselves in the middle of a large cemetery with many graves of WWII soldiers. A heavy feeling emanated.   

Lots of WWII Army and Navy graves

Continuing on we met Jerry from Calgary and walked with him to Temple 55 which was totally destroyed by American bombs in the 1940’s. Though the new gate was  had beautiful gate with statues on both sides.  

Temple 55
Temple 55

The nearby Temple 56 had been up in mountain and destroyed and rebuilt. Temple 57 had a unique post and string connected to main temple to help with transitioning to the next life.  

58 was high up in the mountain and then we had long walk to 59 before last 3k to train station and ride with all the uniformed school kids through an urban area to Minshuku Komatsu.    

Temple 58

The owner is a butcher and upon seeing our huge plate of raw beef, pork, and chicken with veggies, I understood why he is known as “The Butcherman”.    

Fabulous hot pot meal at “The Butcherman’s”. Kind of fun cooking your own food at the table.
At Temple 60

10 May/Day 28:  

Temple 60

After a pleasant breakfast with Mette from Denmark, we departed at 7:00 for a long 800 meter ascent up a forested mountain trail arriving at Temple 60 close to 10AM. All around and inside the temple were blooming pink rhododendrons reminiscent of Nepal and Ireland. A peaceful, calming energy pervaded resulting in us staying a bit longer than normal after conducting the now habitual rituals.   

Mika at Temple 60

The descent was faster and easier of course. After 3.6K we veered onto a different path for the final part down to the valley floor where we sauntered to Temple 61 which was unusual with a big concrete building with theater type seats built around the altar. Reminded me of a place where a TV Evangelist might be preaching.   

We were informed by a monk at Temple 61 that some sort of rogue monk was running Temple 62 and not going along with the 88 Temple Association rules. So they had a small office outside of Temple 61 where I could get a Temple 62 stamp. You can’t get away from politics. Reading up 3 years later I learned that this strange situation has been resolved with Temple 62 getting a new head monk and ohenros can now visit the actual Temple 62.  

We then picked up our packs at the Butcherman’s place and continued on to Temple 63. And then a 45 minute walk to Temple 64 passing a huge red Shinto Shrine representing Mount Ishizuchi,the highest mountain, 1,982 meters/6,503 feet in Western Japan and the island of Shikoku.   

Largest Shinto Shrine we saw

 We then took a 40 minute train ride through a heavy urban area to Temple 65 and Onaru Guesthouse. It was late in the afternoon at this point and the train was loaded with schoolkids.   

The kids are always, friendly, clean, well dressed, and well mannered.

Our host at Onaru was a delightful woman in her 80’s who never traveled herself but did so vicariously through her guests. She had a map and had me mark Chicago and County Clare on it when I tried to explain my Irish American heritage.  

For dinner, she provided a delicious cooked Cod along with some sashimi. There were 3 other guests, a Swiss father and son and a Japanese guy making for an interesting evening and discussion about our various pilgrimage experiences.  ¥70,000 32k  

Trail at beginning of ascent to Temple 60

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2 thoughts on “Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. A WWII Cemetery and Many Temples:”

  1. Enjoying your blog. Do you recommend having a Japanese speaking guide? There seems to be a need to use quite a bit of public transport

    1. That’s a very good though difficult question. Ultimately it is up to you. I walked with my partner Mika who is Japanese for the first 4 days and then she rejoined me on day 13. Of course it makes things much easier with a Japanese speaking companion or guide. Though it is certainly possible to do it on your own, and I was enjoying the challenge of being alone. The 88 Temple Guidebook is excellent. Also, I used it to communicate with Innkeepers and they were always agreeable to call ahead and make reservations for me. I would point to them and shrug and indicate for them to pick an accommodation some times. There are also plenty of blogs, like this one, where you can get recommendations. Just be open and people will be happy to help you as they see you as a monk walking with Kukai (Kobo Daishi) so it is an honor to help you.

      And you don’t have to take public transportation. We chose to as we got tired of walking through a few of the urban areas. There was plenty of countryside as well.

Happy to answer any questions and help in any way.