Day 41: Unpenji and Beyond (13 April 2019)

Kondo-san joined me to visit Unpenji and the next nine temples. He had completed ohenro once before and often walks portions of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage with friends. We left Minshuku Okada at 6:30.

Since Unpenji has the aura of being the temple at the highest elevation, signage was in Japanese and English throughout with one exception. Those of you who grew up with me can decipher the Japanese.

The trail up and down was the best groomed on the trip. The upward climb was steep but not has challenging as some of the other mountains. The descent was lengthy but the trail had very few difficult spots.

At the top, the early morning view (8 AM) was breathtaking. We were high enough and facing the interior of Shikoku that we could see rows of mountains into the horizon.

The temple had an unique feature as we left it to descend down the mountain. Over 500 figures lined the way. No other temple had this feature. A bit of whimsy.

We descended down a lengthy but well groomed path to Temple 37, Daihoji. I took this photo of votive candles at the hondo. Religious rituals have so much in common. Those rows of candles reminded me of candles that front shrines in Catholic churches. We think that religions are so different. But are they really in practice?

Given the early afternoon time, we decided to push on to Temples 68 and 69, the only twins of the 88. It was odd to see two of everything on the same grounds though the hondo of Temple 39 was concrete and modern.

We went to Temple 70 even though we could not make it by 5 PM, the time when temple offices close. Temple 70 has a pagoda on its grounds that is taller than all other buildings in the area. We walked around but knew that we had to come back in the morning.

Our host at Minshuku Shikoku graciously picked us up at the temple. His wife prepared a wonderful dinner that we ended with a special shochu (distilled sweet potato) from Kyushu. This shochu was really smooth unlike the brands we get in the US. Kondo-san said it was excellent. A good sleep was in order and it was.

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