Today is May 1 and the 19th day of this pilgrimage. It has been totally different from any of the previous walking journeys. Japan is in one word, exotic. The people, the customs, the foods, the architecture, are all so different for Westerners. The Japanese are clean, organized, and above all polite. At dinner Mika and I talked about the Temples and while focused on Buddhism, many have Shinto Shrines as well. The Japanese follow Shinto traditions at births, weddings are Christian style but non religious, and funerals are Buddhist. And they celebrate Christmas but without a religious aspect. It is a nice message in tolerance.
And my favorite Japanese idiosyncrasy is that a big Christmas tradition is eating Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) from the chain store. Somehow in the mid 70’s Japanese consumers got the idea that eating KFC was a big American tradition and they have embraced it. The lines can be 20-30 people or more on Christmas day at any KFC. And so many contrasts. I mentioned the other day seeing a Little League Baseball Player just after leaving a Shinto Shrine. So many contrasts and layers to Japanese culture.
Left Shimaya at 6:50AM and walked with a few periods of light rain. The trail ascended through forest up 300 meters and then around 10:30 we arrived in the little village of Ipponmatsu where 3 welcoming ladies in white bonnets sat us down with tea and a nice meal. All Osettai of course.
We saw Damien from France Alps again as we left, and then continued on to Temple 40, Kanjiziji Temple and Yamashiro Minshuku where they had a big hot bath where i could stretch my legs all the way out. The room was very small, but all that was available with the Golden Week crowds. The dinner was the usual excellent assortment of foods but also included a large shrimp cooked in a mayo sauce. 28k
After another delicious breakfast, we left at 7:45 and and followed Rte. 56 and then had some great sea views before stopping at an Osettai tea offering. A young, uncharacteristically tan, Japanese girl was there who had a good sense of humor. Very unusual to see young, a solo Japanese woman on pilgrimage. It is mostly older Japanese in groups or couples.
Continuing on we ascended 450 meters through a beautiful forest with some spectacular sea views at the ridge.
Walking down into the valley we reached a home and a guy offered us Osettai of two pomelos.
The rest of the afternoon we meandered on eventually arriving at Ohata Ryokan at 3:30. Our room had a scenic view overlooking a forest with mountains in the background.
At dinner there was a man with crutches, making me feel blessed to be able to be walking this marvelous pilgrimage.
Shikoku reminds me of Galicia, Spain with all the small family plots of rice and vegetables.