After crossing the pass of a slow rising mountain to the south of Tosa City, I descended into a crescent shaped bowl of a harbor. Shortly, I walked up to a sign that read, USA. Did I make a wrong turn somewhere? Actually, USA (pronounced oo-sa) is the small village that borders the harbor and is the gateway to Temple 36, Shoryuji.
On the way, fishermen were out at the end of a breakwater barrier. A young man was looking out to the ocean. It was quiet and I took my time because today was to be a shorter than usual walk.
But surprises awaited. What I took for the ohenro path turned out to be wrong. Up 300 feet and around a hill to end up almost back at the same starting point. Then, after walking by wetlands populated with frogs that serenaded me as I walked by, I passed by Temple 36 thinking it was a small shrine. Around the wetlands I went. This lap reminded me of Nordic skiers in the shooting competition. When they miss the bulls-eye, they have to ski a penalty lap. The upside was that I heard the frogs again.
Why I missed Temple 36 can be seen in the photo below. After the entry gate, the rest of the temple is back in the woods that can only be reached by climbing 88 steps. I made up the number but it surely was a lot of steps. I am getting the hint that you really have to work towards enlightenment.
I left the temple via the forest trail. The torii beckoned the ohenro. More frog calls and then the solitude of small waterfalls and tall trees. Can you find the trail in the third photo below?
After getting back to a paved road, I crossed it and found a small temple that faced the ocean. Again, making a wrong turn, I came upon a blue domed building. Could it be that Scottie beamed me to Santorini? I had come upon a defunct project to create a condo project of a faux Santorini. Superb location, high above the seashore on a coastline similar to the Santorini caldera. I was looking forward to some seafood and dry chilled Santorini white wine. It was noontime but nigiri and water would have to do. Some Japanese have had their pipe dreams dashed.
The walk continued with some peeks of the ocean in between hills covered with trees and shrubs. A few hearty surfers were bobbing in ocean waiting for their wave. The coastline is dramatic and then I had to bear down to find Micchan’s place by the ocean. 4 PM was coming up.
I was getting tired. Luckily, I recognized her name written in hiragana. As I walked down to her village, I thought of the morning climb up. Here is her name above the entry to her minshuku.
Minshuku is a family owned and operated business. Micchan started hers decades ago to support herself and her children after her husband died while commercially fishing. Renowned after a review in the prestigious Asahi Shinbun, she provides well appointed Japanese styled rooms and of course dinner and breakfast. Pictured below are some dishes that she prepared for us. Loved the grilled fish and sashimi. Both locally caught.
But she performs other duties such as helping Aoyama-san with the blister on his big toe. I knew that he was hurting. But I didn’t know how badly. He is shown lancing his blister with a needle and thread. Thread? Yes, covered in raccoon oil so that the oil can get beneath the skin. I kid you not. We relieved our stress with a good laugh when Micchan pulled out a large pair of sewing scissors to cut the needle from the string. Doesn’t this lady look fierce? She also is about as tall as my grandmother, say, 4’8″or so.
She gave Aoyama-san the small jar of the raccoon oil to apply during the night. We’ll see if it works. Imagine the FDA approving this treatment. Raccoon oil.
As we signed the guest list, Marie Claude Bertrand’s signature appeared. She had stayed the night before. She and I met at Temple 11 and climbed to Temple 12, Shosanji, together. I was glad to see that she is still on the road. BTW, I have met only one American so far on this trip. He was the young man sitting next to Aoyama-san back on Day 9. He stopped walking to Temple 24.
My evening is coming to close. Hard to keep the eyes open.