Day 5: From East to West, North to South in the Tokushima Valley (8 March 2019)

The sky was Carolina blue and warm enough that cherry blossoms could be seen in spots throughout the valley. The most concentrated group of blooms (Sakura) were the trees around Temple 9 which face south. Photographers were out and about capturing images. According to this evening’s newscast on the national channel, the blooms were two weeks early. Here are some photos from around Temple 9. Surely Tokushima is having better weather than Pennsylvania. The groundhog missed his mark — big time; alas, like every other weather person, no consequences. For the record, I am not the photographer in the first photo.

The walk provides plenty of time to reflect and enjoy the environment, specifically gardens. I have come upon wonderful examples from highly manicured to seemingly very natural gardens. Common to all of them is the absence of grass lawns. Rather, gardens are filled with trees and perennials or are planted with seasonal vegetables and fruit trees, I have contended that grass lawns are one of humankind’s worst land uses – wasted person hours cutting grass and the overuse of pesticides and herbicides. Perhaps we can learn from these examples.

As of this evening (a woman graciously drove me the final half mile to my ryokan – I was one hill off), I have walked from Temple 1 to almost Temple 11 from East to West and from North to South of the Tokushima Valley. I reached the vicinity of Temple 11 where my ryokan is located around 5 PM, closing time. I’ll visit Temple 11 tomorrow before hiking what is said to be the most challenging segment of the 88. However, today’s 18 miles got to be pretty long in the tooth by the end. Thank you to the Good Samaritan or should I say the Good Buddhist who helped a pilgrim in need. I wanted my bath before dinner and an Extra Dry Asahi beer.

Besides having a superb set of maps from my 2018 guidebook (totally accurate from roads — no Waze for the walker — to noting important services like accommodations, 7-11s, and toilet facilities), the henro association has marked the path with elegant as well as barely noticeable signs. One has to keep looking for these signs at critical junctions and intersections while enjoying the view in order to stay on course. Missing one may be costly to the wear and tear on the body. Here are some examples. Thank you from a grateful henro.

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