Day 16: Ashizuri
07.04.2012 - 07.04.2012 22 °C
Temple 33 - 43
Miracles – they really happen. Seriously.
Our original plan was to get the stamp from temple 33 first thing in the morning, walk 4 miles from 33 to 34, and another 6 miles to 35, hitchhike to 36, train to 37 and spend the night at a free nearby hut. We were hoping to finish 43 and get back to Matsuyama by Tuesday.
When we were waiting for the stamp place to open up, we met another ohenro, Konagai-san. He was also travelling the pilgrimage in order (since it was leap year, much ohenro travel backwards – starting from 88). We asked if he could hitch a ride with him and he said yes! The best thing about it was - the last temple he had to finish was 43, which was exactly where we needed to go! The entire day, we hitched a ride with Konagai-san.
Many miracles happened to us during this trip. The timing was so perfect; it was as if our trip was all planned out for us. Perhaps it was Kanon-sama who helped us get through our last obstacle.
I don't think I would have lasted today because I already feeling sick this morning. My head and stomach ached. I was suddenly feeling very weak and tired. We stopped by the convenient store to buy a warm bottle of lemon tea and a loaf of bread for my upset stomach. There were many long gaps between the temples, so I took many naps during the ride.
During the car ride, we learned that Konagai-san is a designer/engineer for an electronics company. He specializes in designing the 'super computer.' Maybe I will be able to be his first tester for his super computer? Fingers crossed! Besides working, he enjoys travelling and making bags/wallets from scratch.
Temple 38 was probably the most memorable throughout the entire day. The temple was at Cape Ashizuri, which was famous for its sea life. There was even a giant turtle statue in front of the temple! We stopped for a quick lunch at a nearby restaurant. When I mean quick, I mean REALLY quick. Konagai-san slurped his udon in lightning speed. He finished his entire bowl while Meagan and I finished only half our donburi.
My experience riding with Junya-san was very different from riding with Konagai-san. Junya-san is more relaxed and likes to take his time slowly. Slow-paced and rural hippie describes the trip perfectly. On the other hand, Konagai-san likes to rush and speed through everything. He drives very fast, passes through all the slow cars, spends half the amount of time in each temple, and even eats his food in lightning speed! Maybe it was because we had to finish 10 temples by 5 pm, but it was really hard to enjoy the process. However, without Konagai-san and his fast paced personality, I don't think we would have been able to finish so early!
By 3:30 pm, we already finished temple 40. Since we had a little time to spare, Konagai-san and I walked up to Uwajima Castle and took a VERY quick look inside the castle, then headed straight to temple 41.
We had an hour left and 3 more temples remaining. It was a race against time. Our plan was to get the all the stamps first then go back to each temple to finish our prayers. There seems to be an detour stopping us in every temple. Temple 41 had the tour bus people with the bajillion books stacked for the monk to sign. Temple 42 had police officers that stopped us because there was an accident. We had 25 minutes to get to temple 43 and the GPS wasn't working. Speeding through with only 5 minutes left, we made it to the stamp office before 5 pm.
We took pictures to celebrate Konagai's 'graduation' of the ohenro pilgrimage. I wonder how it feels to finish the entire pilgrimage after all those days of travelling via walking, bussing, hiking, biking, training, and hitchhiking. I guess we would have to wait a couple more days until we ‘graduate’ as well. We drove back to temple 42 and 41 to finish our prayers.
Afterwards, Konagai-san was kind enough to drive us to Yawatahama station to take the JR back to Matsuyama. Then he went to take the ferry back to Kyushu. We ate our UFO ramen we bought a while back from the night at the dormitory and our leftover slices of bread. There wasn't any hot water, so we had to eat the hard ramen straight out of the container at the station. It was way too salty, like eating a brick of salt. But cheap henros like us do not waste food, so we ate the entire box.
Some creepy man who kept on staring at us... but whatever. It’s 9:45 right now and we’re currently on the train for two hours. My butt hurts from sitting for so much, but oh well. At least we're on our way back to Matsuyama!
1) Don't be afraid to ask for help. People in Japan are willing to help you, especially if you're a henro!
2) Japanese people eat rice very slowly, but eat their noodles VERY fast!
3) There are funny advertisements everywhere.