Day 26: Go For It (29 March 2019)

We started up the ohenro path that was the road used in the Edo period to traverse between Eihime and Kochi prefectures. The path was challenging rising from sea level to 1000 feet. Along the way, we read encouraging messages from elementary school students like the ones we saw on yesterday’s path.

I was particularly taken with the one with the simple message, “Ganbide, kudasai,” translated as “Go for it.” I wonder whether the Japanese-American soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team used ganbi as the basis for their motto, “Go for broke.”

We were inspired so much so that we took the wrong turn and ended up dealing with a very steep slope on the mountainside. I slid twice, once going down 10 feet. There were plenty of trees to break my fall. But I have to admit, it was scary to think that we were lost.

We backtracked and eventually found the trail. What had happened was that we powered straight ahead rather than seeing and taking the hairpin turn. Sharon would say — that’s hunter behavior rather than that of a gather.

After we took a deep breath, we continued to the pass where we met a French couple. They came to Japan to celebrate the wife’s (Sophie) 60th birthday on 8 May. They will be in Japan for 60 days. They intend to complete the circuit. You can see our view from the pass. Not much remains there. The information board said that a tea house once stood there to serve travelers on their way between Kochi and Ehime.

We continued down the mountain passing by a grocer who gave us some oranges and alongside a river whose course took us to Temple 40, Kanjizaji.

The temple was serene as closing time approached. Several outstanding examples of manicured trees stood out like the one below.

For the first time so far, a row of different Buddhas with a water cleansing fountain in front of each, was quite impressive. Each temple seems to have its own signature.

Once I had the temple stamps in my book, I was officially at the temple furthest away from Temple 1 – one way of thinking about the halfway point. We also crossed from Kochi to Ehime prefecture. We left the Place of Ascetic Training and now in the Place of Enlightenment. Stay tuned.

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