That is, Shiraishi Masaki-San. Family name translated as “white rock.” Rocky is 73. He worked in New York and one day wants to return to Philadelphia to walk up or maybe run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. He is the oldest walking pilgrim that I have met; the youngest is 33. Most seem to be in their mid-forties to early fifties.
The other fellow is Hanno Eckstein from Germany. He is on an 8 month trip around the world.
I took the photo of them in a lovely hut set up for henro. It was warm and most importantly had instant coffee and gave us relief from the pouring rain. We walked in heavy rain from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Getting out of the rain with warm coffee at hand brought big smiles to us.
Today, we covered 18.5 miles, 5 temples, and several amusing moments. Maps are very impersonal two-dimensional guides. Walking the roads and trails put us up close and personal with the people, animals, and the environment. Here are a few examples.
As we walked by the river, Rocky met man’s best friend. I don’t know the breed but the dog looked like a small Akita. He had a very friendly bark. Our henro outfits didn’t seem calm our best friend. Where was Kukai?
There’s Hanno crossing a bridge. I have walked across several bridges like that one during the past three days; also, some single lane ones for cars and for the occasional walker. I can’t imagine any local person walking across such bridges. The pilgrimage trail often meanders off paved roads. I’ll show you some examples in the next blog.
Here’s Hanno again where we had to closely look for the path marker. Hint: it was on the vase located at the center of the base. We went left.
How about the two farmer puppets urging us to stay right.
When we were not concentrating on reading signs, we looked up to see magnificent views surrounding this valley before entering Tokushima City. This is not the Japan one sees in the movies. Almost every walker preferred walking these rural areas and the mountains. Step aside Tokyo.
How about the temples, you ask. Indeed, they all have been so different. Here is Temple 14 that was built around its natural rocky surface. No other temple has been like this one. We stepped gingerly because the rocks were very slippery.
I’ll end this blog with an advertisement that I saw in Temple 17’s waiting area. Touring on a motorcycle! As far as today, other than the three of us, we encountered only one couple. However, several bus loads of Japanese pilgrims were around and about even in the rain.