This pilgrimage has been mostly about walking alone or with Mika and engaging briefly with locals we run into. Unlike other pilgrimages, such as the Camino de Santiago, or Nepal, we have only had brief encounters with other pilgrims and rarely see ohenros more than once. That has changed the past few days as we seem to be meeting up along the trail with a friendly young Frenchman, an animator and musician, from Grenoble. Our pleasant conversations are a nice change of pace.
This morning required a long walk through Ozu so we caught train for 5k after 10k of walking. Then a pleasant walk through Ochiko Town with some interesting shops. Ran into Damien in hills on shortcut. Walked with him for a long while including a 1 kilometer stretch in an auto tunnel.
There are a few of these tunnels and they are not fun as the fumes are bothersome, but you take the bad with the good on any pilgrimage. Ultimately these negative experiences help us to more appreciate the afternoon walk through beautiful forest trails.
Mika and I stopped for a quick lunch of peanuts and melted chocolate and snacks from osettai gift from Tokiwa Ryokan. We then bumped into Damien again and walked with him until we took a different path to Temple 47.
It was a tough day so we stopped at a souvenir shop just before our guesthouse and had delicious mixed vanilla and blueberry soft cone. Never had that combination and it is delicious. Of course walking 28K today helps one to appreciate everything better, certainly food.
Arrived at Fujiya Ryokan at 3:00. Very cozy, pleasant old Inn where they served us a delicious dinner for just the two of us. ¥8,000.
Breakfast at 6 and left at 6:45. Continued up the road slowly before nice shortcut through woods and then we took northern route over the mountains to highway 42 passing an interesting shrine and then following Damiens path.
We endured a steep climb to 800 meters and then down and up to temple 44. Lit 4 candles for my deceased St. A’s grade school classmates and then ran into Damien and walked up forest hill before arriving at Minshuku Hacchozaka at 1:30 and decided to rest and stay rather than go on to 45.
Had a wonderful hot bath alone where I could stretch my legs out, followed by a relaxing afternoon. Dinner included delicious fried pork, udon, salad, Konyaku(yam) sashimi. One of the better dinners though there has not been a bad one.