It was time to leave the mountains and walk down to Matsuyama. We said good-bye to our innkeeper who also makes his own umeboshi – both sweet and salty. I think that Shikoku should host an umeboshi festival to identify the best of the best on the island. So far, I have identified three contenders whose umeboshi are superb. He would be a contender.
After climbing over another pass, we reached a paved road that was leading us to Temple 46, Joruriji. We passed what looked liked another ohenro rest area but with a wood burning furnace in front. The furnace was there to heat water for making tea. Voices beckoned us to come in. Four people were inside with food and drink at the ready. It was about noon – time for hirugohan (lunch). Sandwiches – not. Rather, a full course lunch with rice mixed with vegetables and mushrooms, pickled vegetables, hard boiled eggs, fruits, and assorted Japanese confectioneries. These people were in their 80’s. On Thursdays, they come out and offer lunch to ohenro.
We ended up spending more than hour with them talking about ohenro, what they knew about the pilgrimage, and why they offered these lunches. They certainly appreciated how to sustain a community and the traditions of ohenro. In turn, we appreciated their spirit and kindness.
A few minutes down the road, Aoyama-san said that we were passing the elementary school whose students put encouraging signs for ohenro on the mountain trail. Cars were in the parking lot so we assumed that some teachers were in even though the students were on spring break.
We were invited in and offered cookies and coffee – no instant here but a nice pour over. We thanked them for supporting ohenro and teaching children the importance of encouraging the human spirit. It was a pleasure to be among fellow professionals and to share perspectives about education.
Yes, we did visit Temples 46 and 47. In front of Temple 46, we talked with a bicycle ohenro. He was on a special 10 day vacation as a reward for his good work at his company. He intended to complete the entire circuit of the 88 in this time. He was in full uniform. Check out the bike. Looked like a top of the line bike to me.
Here are some images from Temple 47 – the bell, the main promenade to the hondo (how about those cherry blossoms), and a temple cat under another bell.
I will end this day with the dining room scene from our minshuku. This particular one is very large like a more elegant business hotel. No western tables here. You have to be able to sit on the floor. As usual, the food was delicious and served with a smile.