As we were going to bed last night, it hailed! What was going to be the weather tomorrow? Like Americans, the Japanese devote plenty of minutes to forecasting the weather. The TV commentator along with a Japanese version of Vanna White predicted no rain.
When we woke, black clouds were above but they soon cleared. Windy, yes, but no rain.
We decided to be prudent after yesterday. We cut back to a more sensible 12 mile walk. What we didn’t know was that we had to climb 500 feet at the end. Heads down, we managed the climb and arrived at Temple 24 – about 45 miles down the road from Temple 23.
Before moving on, a word of praise for Lodge Ozaki. Not only did we dine at a high gourmet level (see yesterday’s blog), the proprietor was attentive and very helpful in helping us plan the next segment of our trip. Five stars for Lodge Ozaki which her grandmother founded 40 years ago. Here she is.
Our first landmark was the Meotoiwa Rocks. The word means husband and wife together. Here they are bound with ropes. The photo can’t capture the sublime beauty of the rocks and the setting in which they sit.
Since we were on a “short” walk, we veered off the henro road to visit the GeoMarine Center. This newly constructed museum presents the geological and cultural history of the Muroto area. Did you know that Japan sits at the conjuncture of four tectonic plates? No wonder it is probably the most active earthquake and volcanic region in the world.
Since it was almost noon, hirugohan (lunchtime). I dined on a bowl of what else, seaweed noodles. Ayoyama-San enjoyed his curry. We both had yaki-emo (grilled Japanese sweet potato). Another hit from the past. We topped it off with salty vanilla ice cream that was charcoal colored with real charcoal! I loved it because it was off sweet; that’s the best that I can describe the flavor.
Alas, it was time to get on the road. The goal was to reach Mikurodo and Shinmei caves where Kukai reached enlightenment and where we lived. This is where it all began. Kukai means sky and earth – the two elements that he saw from his cave while meditating. Here is a photo of the Mikurodo cave where he meditated and the calligrapher who signed our record books.
After we walked about 300 meters Down the road, we began our final climb to Temple 24. After visiting the temple, we checked into the temple hotel. My room is oversized. The dinner was delicious and featured local bonito sashimi marinated in a soy vinegar.
Time for rest. That near marathon day took a lot out of us. Two temples tomorrow and about 12-15 miles of walking.