Day 4: A Pilgrim Learns a Lesson (7 March 2019)

Bandō Station. The beginning. Walking up two blocks, I turned to the left following my map. But there it was like Dorothy’ Yellow Brick Road, the Green Line marking the way to Temple 1.

After buying my henro clothing and signature book, I went outside of the shop to put on my vest and prayer stole. It was an odd moment. I felt that I was in a uniform separating me from others. At Temple 1, I was the only one in uniform. But soon that feeling abated. I met others wearing white, all with the pilgrim’s stole, almost all walking with ritual staff. Here I am at Temple 3.

Even though I had carefully planned what I would bring, I ended up carrying more than expected. Now I had more clothing items and a book to protect from the elements.

Just after this photo was taken, the heavens broke pouring rain. Yesterday, I had bought an umbrella adding to my burden. As I walked along, I kept thing, what can I toss? Ah, maybe some of the blister items to create space. I had a package of blister prevention tape, adhesive pads in case one developed a blister, and even an applicator that promised to help prevent foot and shoe friction. Why did I go to such lengths?

As I walked up the hill to Temple 4, I stopped at a cemetery to rest. I knew at that point that the balls of my feet were in blister production mode. I tried to will them away but to no avail. With four miles to go, I had to gingerly take my steps.

My inn was next to Temple 5, thank goodness. The bath was divine for tired muscles and feet. Then, the blister pack was opened. We’ll see how the feet survive a 14 mile today. Lesson: Don’t fret or worry. Just enjoy the walk. It won’t do you any good. I am going to keep everything for the moment. Photos of my room and dinner at the inn are below.

Although the temples have common structures (entrance with bell nearby; water to wash your hands; the hondo, main hall; a statue of Gobo Daishi; and signature obtaining office), each are laid out differently depending on theme and geography. Temple 2 is dedicated to help women in childbirth. Temple 5 served warriors. As I walked through the temples, their inner peace consumed me as I wandered about – the ultimate “go with flow.” Some specific objects were stunning like the rock at the entrance to Temple 4 – never had I seen a rock 10 feet tall with contours that portrayed the mountains as this one and the 800 year old ginkgo tree in the courtyard of Temple 5. More wonders to come.

Almost time to arise for today’s walk from Temple 5 to Temple 11. The gentle snoring from the adjacent room reminds me the we are alive and well.

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