A Travellerspoint blog

Hitchhiking Henros d(^_^d)

Day 15: Muroto

sunny 23 °C

Temples 24-27
(Now in Japanese and English!)

こんにちは、皆さん!今コンピューターを日本語でタイプが出来て、時間がいっぱいあったら、今からブログに日本語も書くつもりです。
私の日本語がまだよくないですからすみません!よろしくぅ(^o^)/

お遍路している時にいっぱいの日本人の友達と会った。もし、その友達は今読んでいて、違う文典と単語を訂して下さい。よろしくお願いします!後で前のブログも日本語で書くつもりです。だから、読み続けって下さい!

朝ごはんは美味しいホットケーキと甘いキウィだった!お茶を飲んで、楽な音楽を聞いて、パックした。じゅんやさんは早く出なくてはいけなかったら、いっしょにドックへ行った。じゅんやさんは姉さんと私の一番苦しいの時に助けた。本当にありがとうございました。車に面白い話を言われたり、新しい単語を教えたり、ドーミトリーで手に選択をしたり、コンビニで安い食べ物を買ったり、メッチャうまいみかんをいっしょに食べたりした。あなたの事はぜったい忘れないよ!シャンティの恋人、じゅんやさんは船に入る時にシャンティはひゅうひゅうにした。メッチャかわいい!O(≧∇≦)O

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後でかずさんは姉さんと私をかのうらに下ろした。大きい紙に「24番の最御崎寺方面」を書いて、びゃくえとすげがさを着て、歩道で立って待った。無銭旅行を始めましょう!その時に暑くて、恥ずかしくて、だれも止めなかった。でも、三十分後でやさしいおじいさんとおばあさんを救い上げった!高年者も24番の最御崎寺へ行っている。後で25番の津照寺に下ろして、バナナをあげた。

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暑い日の下に26番の金剛頂寺へ歩いていて、重い荷物を運んだ。やっぱりとても苦しくて、疲れた。でも、金剛頂寺にやさしい二人ずつに会って、27番の神峰寺に連れて行ってくれた!よがった!でも、神峰寺の納経所はもう10分に閉めた。車で山を早く上って、納経所に納経帳のスタンプを持った。ギリギリセーフ!山の下りるときにいっぱいのさくらを見た!とても美しくてきれいだった。二人ずつはにおり駅に下ろした。(;´ρ`) グッタリ

今晩おじいさんの家に一晩過ごした。おじいさんはすごくやさしいですがとてもおしつけがましくた。そしてアクセントが多かった!おじいさんの言葉を少しだけ分かった。

  • おじいさん:「今お風呂に入るよ!」
  • おじいさん:「ラーメンを食べて!ああ、メロンパンも食べて。早く食べて!早く!」
  • おじいさん:「明日そのコンビにへ行ってなさい!」
  • おじいさん:「それはだめ!これはだめ!だめ!だめ!だめ!」
  • 姉絵さんと私:「はい、はい。」(゚ー゚)(。_。)ウンウン

(私たちはもう少しでへんに成った!)

私たちはお風呂に入って、せんたくをして、テレビを見て、寝た。 でも、本当にありがとうございましたおじいさん!おじいさんの親切心をわすれない!

ENGLISH VERSION:

Kazu-san made fluffy pancakes for breakfast. We also ate sweet kiwi that Junya-san bought from the farmer's market and the leftover soup from last night. Afterwards, we walked Junya-san out to the boat and said our farewells. Shanti gave his last dog humps to Junya-san and was howling his sorrows when he left. It was so cute... I mean, a very sorrowful love story indeed.

We took a short walk together and went back to Kazu's place to get ready for the matsuri. Since there were no cars on the island, Kazu-san brought all of his equpment on a wagon and transferred it to his boat. He went to the temple, did a short prayer which consisted of drinking sake, and went back to his boat. We rode to the other side of the dock and he drove us to Kanoura in his 'moving cafe.' We started our official hitchhiking there. We held up our cheap sign that we made the night before, hoping some kind, good-hearted people would drive us to the next temple. After 30 minutes of holding the sign under the blazing sun, a car stopped and picked us up! It was an old man and two old women who were also heading up to temple 24. They also drove us to temple 25, (or we kindly begged them to), and gave us three bananas as parting gifts.

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We walked to temple 26. Let me tell you, RESPECT WALKING HENROS. They're faced with the scorching sun that burns their skin during the long days. Their feet and ankles are sore from all that walking. They're about to fall over from their heavy luggage. I mean, henros pretty much bring their entire house with them - clothes, tent, sleeping bags, food, and other essentials. If I had more time, I would do this entire pilgrimage via walking since I think the pros to walking this trip overrides the cons.

We found a couple in temple 26 who was willing to let us ride with them to temple 27. The way to temple 27 was beautiful. Have you ever seen a mountain filled with pink sakura trees during sunset? Utterly breathtaking. We arrived at the temple 10 minutes before it closed - another close call! The couple was originally from the Kansai region and planned on doing up to temple 35 before they leave tomorrow.

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We called our henro guide sheet, which told us someone provided housing for henros. The couple drove us to Niori sation where someone was there to pick us up. We waited for another 15 minutes until this old grandpa (ojiisan) showed up on his motorcycle. He had a very thick, country accent and was very... PUSHY. He originally worked at the temples before, so he learned to be very kind to henros.

We ate ramen and melon bread given to us from ojiisan. He let us take a bath and wash our clothes as well. He went to bed at 7:00, while we watched reality shows on tv until we fell asleep. He was kind in every way, except he was very bossy.

"You MUST eat the ramen now. Eat the melon bread. Hurry and eat it!"
"You must take a shower now."
"You must do this. Do that. You must..."

It drove us insane! (Gladly, I couldn't speak much Japanese, so he was afraid to speak to me. He mainly bothered my sister and told her to tell me to do stuff.)

KEY NOTES:

  • Ferry / boat rides are VERY CHEAP! Students on Temajima ride those to school everyday!
  • People are very nice to henros, so it's easier to get picked up.
  • Walking with all your backpack under the blazing sun is VERY HARD! (Especially without a bike.)
  • You can actually sleep inside one of the train stations! Well, technically you can't, but there's a roof to cover you when it rains.

*** UPDATE: Thank you, Yoshi-san, for correcting my Japanese! You are the best!

Posted by thewongway 20:03 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

Hawaiian Nights... with a hint of seaweed!

Day 14: Teba-jima

sunny 23 °C

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Temples 21-23
Riding the ropeway up to temple 21 costs about 2500 yen per person (around $30). That could buy us 50 packs of mitarashi dango at the convenient store! This ‘5 minute extravagant ropeway experience’ was not worth $60, so we decided to drive. We drove up the mountain, parked our car, and hiked up 1k to temple 21.

While we were on our walk, Junya-san told us a funny story about his experience with toads. At a specific time of the year, these toads would come out to mate at night. Junya-san and a couple of his buddies decided to go out in the middle of the woods to find these toads. But they accidentally fell into a ditch and couldn’t get back up. Pitch dark, nobody around, and cold – oh, Junya-san!

On our way to temple 23, we passed by a playground near Fukui Dam. It was apparently closed because it was infested with snakes, but we sneaked in regardless. I mean, who closes the playground on a Wednesday? We are REAL HENROS and REAL HENROS are not afraid of snakes. We slid through a very long slide, ran around and acted like little kids until we saw a security guard coming.

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We finally reached to temple 23, Junya-san’s final temple. The sakura trees were blossoming everywhere! As Junya-san was getting his last stamp, I wondered when we will finally get all 88 stamps. How would I feel when all our nokyocho pages are filled up.

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We celebrated his accomplishments with a nice lunch at Ikko Café. I really wanted takoyaki (octopus balls), so I decided to skip lunch and wait for my takoyaki. Junya-san drove us to a rest stop to buy my takoyaki. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT – lumpy, soft, slightly cold, and there weren’t many octopus pieces inside! Meagan was right – I guess I have to wait until Osaka to try good takoyaki.

We decided to go spend the night at Temajima, where one of the henro guesthouses is located. We took the ferry, which only cost 220 yen! Man, I would ride the ferry every day just to enjoy the view and the fresh air! Kazu-san, the owner of the Tema-jima guesthouse, welcomed us to the island.

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I skyped with my dearest clustermmates. They haven’t changed one bit – rowdy, jolly, and loud as ever! I miss them so much. Before sundown, Kazu-san took us on a walk with his dog, Shanti, around the ENTIRE island, which was only 3k!

Afterwards, we took a nice, warm shower, ate delicious dinner, listened to music, and made a facebook page for the Tema-jima guesthouse! If anyone plans on going to Japan, you MUST come to Tema-jima. It’s like the mini version of Hawaii! I wish I was back there already…

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Here is the website Kazu-san created with us!
http://www.facebook.com/tebajimaguesthouseShantishanti

Posted by thewongway 22:01 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Goodbye Udon and HERROOOO RAMEN

Day 13 - Tokushima

storm 19 °C

Temples 12-22
We said our goodbyes to Sho-san early in the morning. Junya drove us to the train station to retrieve our bikes. We stuffed both bikes, our bulky backpacks, and Meagan in the back of the van. I don't really know how we managed to do that. We drove our way to the delivery company. It's about $90 to send both bikes back. Our wallets hurt, but at least we're free to travel by train or car!

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The weather today was very windy, and rainy - somewhat like a typhoon. Unlike Seattle weather, it was rainy, windy, warm, and musty. We made good use of our cheap rainjackets we bought from Daiso, but we still got soaking wet. The sticky feeling you get from the mixture of sweat and rain was unbearable. I don't know how people survive during the Tsuyu (rainy season)...

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We stopped at a small ramen place for lunch. Since we were in Tokushima, it would be crazy not to try their famous ramen. Meagan and I tried their Tokushima special ramen and gyozas. The ramen was skinnier than the typical ramen, but the thick slab of delicious, juicy pork still remained the same. Such a nice day for a hot soupy noodles on a rainy day.

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As we walked out the door, a dark, ominous rain cloud hovered over us, and it poured... HARD. We drove through the rain, went through as many temples as we can, and enjoyed the cherry blossoms throughout the way. It got to the point where we couldn't even light our incense or candles. The weather was wacky - a mix of rain, sun, rain, dark clouds, rain, sun, and more rain.

While going to temple 22, we made a quick break to buy snacks at a farmer's market. We got a bag of kiwis for 100 yen and bananas for 80 yen! What a deal! The rain finally stopped and the sun was starting to peek out. We went to get some ice cream while watching the blooming sakura trees - my very first hanami.

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Afterwards, we drove our way to a nearby dormitory for henros. A clean tatami room equipped with a television and heater all for 1500 yen per person if we had our sleeping bags. There was a washing machine and dryer, but we were cheap henros and decided to hand wash and air dry our clothes. I made the mistake of washing all my clothes including my sweat pants. My hands were burning by the time I finished squeezing every last drop of water from my drenched clothes. The henro way of living.

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Since there was no food avaliable in the dorms, wge drove to a nearby convinient store to get food - ramen, cream-filled buns, and mitarashi dango. It's not a healthy, balanced meal, but stingy henros do not complain. Before we ate, we went into the onsen and relaxed in the hot water. Afterwards, my sister and I ate the buns and dango, and saved our ramen for later. We fell asleep while watching random television shows. Junya went out to take a breather, but was dragged by some older men to a few drinks with them. Poor guy.

KEY NOTES:
1) When Japan rains, it rains HARD.
2) Men in Japan love to smoke and drink. The only time when they can relax and release their stress is through sake.
3) Convinient stores are everywhere... even up in the mountains.

Posted by thewongway 09:16 Archived in Japan Tagged japan tokushima Comments (0)

The Relaxed Henros - Seeing Life The Naruto Way

Day 12 - Naruto

sunny 22 °C

Temple 1-11

We woke up at 8:00 and slept for 7 hours, which was the most we have slept this past week. After a cheap and quick breakfast at a nearby convenient store, we started our pilgrimage. Temples 1 to 10 are all located in close proximity, so we finished all those by noon. The sakura buds have just started blooming; I can't wait to see it in full bloom.

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We had lunch at Sho-san's friend's house - okonomiyaki, onigiri, vegetables, negiyaki, and other small dishes. We finished our hearty lunch with some "R-1" yogurt and chai tea. During lunch, we talked about the pilgrimage, hitch hiking stories, differences in buddhist rituals in Japan and China, and various sights to see while on the pilgrimage. Apparently, hitchhiking is not a common thing to do in Japan, but it is possible, especially for foreigners. Since we are henros, female, and Americans, our chance of getting a free ride is pretty high. Let's just hope we can find a ride...

Since the weather was nice and the flowers were all starting to bloom, we decided to go for a small walk around the neighborhood. Toru-san taught me how to make noises with the duckweed! I've been trying to learn how to do that since I was in elementary school.

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Since there was still time left, we went to temple 11 to receive our last stamp of the day. We stopped by to buy some groceries for dinner at the Nameste house. Meagan and I decided to make cola chicken, a dish my grandmother would always make when we were little. The chicken was sweet, but we forgot to put salt to balance the flavor. It was not as great as my grandmother’s, but at least it was cooked all the way through.

Sho-san picked us up to Makoto-san’s house. Makoto-san also has a guest house for henros called the Nameste house. There was suppose to be a special perfomance from Atasa-san, a musician who has lived in India for the past 20 years and recently came back to Japan. He is the master at many different types of flutes and the Daruruba. He has a great sense of humor and looks kind of like Jackie Chan. Many "open secrets" (inside joke) and "Daramsama."

We first had dinner - Indian curry, bread/brown rice, salad, cola chicken, saba zushi, and fruit punch mixed with red wine. Atasa-san sang songs to us during our meal while playing his guitar. He made up a couple of songs on the spot - singing about going to the US, looking like Jackie Chan, Ichiro and the Mariners, and the henro trip. Junya-san also played the guitar and drums. I never knew everyone was so musically talented! Good food, good music, and good friends - all happening in the Nameste house.

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Today, I learned that life in Naruto is peaceful and relaxed. Spending time with friends and family around the table for a couple of hours during lunch/dinner is a wonderful feeling. Biking from morning to sundown, Meagan and I were always in a rush. We never have the chance to stop and take a look at the beautiful side of Shikoku. During our afternoon walk, people in Naruto notice the small flowers that grows on the cracks of the cement walls, the different types of flowers that were starting to bloom, the small details that makes the world beautiful. This is something I learned at Naruto- every once in a while, we must take a break and enjoy a cup of tea with our friends and family. It's something I lacked even when I was living in Seattle.

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Thank you Ashram - Toru, Hizura, Makoto, Atasa, Junya, and especially Sho - for changing my life and seeing it in a whole new angle. Arigatou.

KEY NOTES:
1) The country side is very relaxed and life goes by really slow.
2) The most important part of the meal isn't just food. It's the people you eat with, the stories you tell, and the wonderful things you learn from the others.
3) People in Naruto are very kind.

Posted by thewongway 04:15 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Daishi-san's Gift - Ashram

Day 11 - Naruto

overcast 20 °C

Temple 87, 88

Today, we woke up extra early and left to Nagao to take the bus to temple 88. We parked our bikes on the side of a grocery store and made it just in time for the 8:21 bus. After finishing our rituals in the temple, we still had about 25 minutes to look around the shops. We bought some youkan for our okaasan as souvinier. We also "tasted" some of their freebies in the shop (aka - henro's free lunch)!

After temple 87, we biked another 35k to Naruto, where temple 1 is located. However, to get to Naruto, we had to go through the mountains. The route was long, uphill, and impossible for our legs to handle, so we had to walk our bikes up the mountain. Few descriptions of our long walk.

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  • It was long, tiring, and many turns.
  • There were professional bikers that went up and down the mountain and lapped us twice!
  • We were angry at every car that passed us.
  • There were a lot of trash and old furniture dumped on the side of the road.

In the picture below, we had to walk up all of that (and more!) This was only a small portion of how much we walked.
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Whatever goes up, must come down. After 1.5 hours of walking uphill, I was so excited to ride downhill with the wind blowing on our faces. But no matter how hard we tried, we got there 4 minutes after temple 1 closed. It was getting dark and we needed a place to stay, so we tried calling the guest house for henros. The host said his house was 15 minutes away from Naruto station by bike, but we were still at least 10k away from Naruto station and our legs were going to give up on us. We decided to ride the train to Naruto station, where our host was kind enough to pick us up.

During that time, we sat in the cold, wondering if things would ever improve and if finishing this trip was even possible. It was sad to see how we are slowly breaking down, physically and mentally. I was still willing to keep on going, but my sister is tired and wants to get back to Matsuyama as soon as possible.

Sho came to pick us up when we arrived at the station. He is a massage therapist, yoga instructor, and a Buddhist monk. He took us to the lodge, Ashram, where we met Junya, Toru, and Hizuru. Junya, who is a farming instructor our age and is also a fellow henro, but he was doing it by motorcycle and is now doing it by car. And since he only has the temples from Tokushima prefecture (temples 1-23) left to do for his pilgrimage, he offered to drive us to the temples in the Tokushima prefecture!
We had a potluck dinner (Sho cooked Indian curry, Junya cooked mapo tofu, Hizuru made mixed vegetables), which were all very delicious. Afterwards, Sho roasted some of Naruto's famous sweet potatoes for us. Tonight, we sat and ate delicious food, had the most interesting conversations, and learned so much about the people of Naruto. From scaring away wild boars with human hair, the heart sutra, Buddhist philosophies/teachings, how to grow sweet potatoes, and the way of drinking shochu, it reminded me of sitting in the campfire with your friends. Sho taught us that a person constantly changes based on the people you meet and your interactions with them. And that was truly how we felt that night.

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Right when we were thinking about giving up, Sho-san brought us back up. I think it was definately a miracle that they came to help us. Junya was planning to leave the night we came, but there was a local festival, so he didn't get as many temples as he wanted to. So he stayed for another day. Everything was just perfect timing. A miracle.

NOTE: This was how we felt during our train ride to Naruto station. I wrote this before Sho-san came to help us out.

This trip has been the most tiring and physically demanding experience I have ever faced. Waking up everyday at 6:30 am and biking until 6:30 pm. My knees and legs can barely move due to soreness and pain. My face and hands are sunburnt, my skin is peeling, large bags under my eyes due to the lack of sleep, and breakouts on my face. I fell down too many times to count, always worrying about getting crashed into cars and large trucks, and feel like bums when going into convinient stores. With every temple we finish, we are one down from finishing the entire pilgrimage, but I don't know if my body could last longer than that.

Even though we are not strictly Buddhist, experiencing all these miracles, we can't help but think that someone is watching over us during our trip, perhaps O-daishi-sama or Kanon-sama.

Posted by thewongway 08:48 Archived in Japan Tagged naruto Comments (1)

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