Besides building up my walking base and Japanese language skills, I spent plenty of time learning about how to be outfitted for this journey. I consulted my friend from kindergarten, Eddie, who competes in Firemen Olympics and rides his bicycle for weeks on long distance trips. I had some good laughs reading Bill Bryson’s text about his adventures at a clothing store when he readied himself for the Appalachian Trail. Like him, I had no clue that merino wool clothing whisked away your perspiration and could dry in a few hours. Leslie clued me into a neighbor of hers that hand made ultralight backpacks. I bought the second to his last backpack. Light as a feather, it will hold about 10 pounds of clothing, meds, electronic gadgets, and my camera. The task for today is to experiment with what will actually fit into this pack.
I will be traveling via Lufthansa to Frankfurt and then to Osaka arriving on 4 March in the morning. By JR Rails to Kyoto and then to Kameoka (a small town to the west of Kyoto), I’ll be staying with Fukiko Teramachi who will be my go to person in Japan. Fukiko has helped me secure my grandmother’s koseki. She will be sending a care package halfway through my journey — my second pair of hiking boots and my warmer weather gear. I will send back my winter clothing and any other miscellaneous items I don’t need but still have. Many thanks to Fukiko. If you are interested in a homestay, Sharon and I highly recommend Fukiko as a host and guide.
On 6 March, I will take the train to Takamatsu, Shikoku. The following morning, I will board the local JR train to Bando station which is near Temple 1. I plan on walking to Temple 5 the first day. The second day, I will be visiting Temples 6 through 11. Temple 11 is located at the foot of the mountain where Temple 12 (Shosanji) is located. To reach Temple 12, the cumulative increase in height will be 3,500 feet — Lehigh’s South Mountain is a mere pimple by comparison. After reaching Temple 12, I will be staying at a ryokan (Japanese inn) about 3 km down the mountain. The following day will entail an 18 mile walk down the mountain, stopping at Temples 13 through 17, before reaching my hotel in Tokushima City. After this point, I have no lodging reservations. The real test of faith that I will have roof over my head each night begins.