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As soon as I put pilgrim’s white clothes on, and start the walk, half year ago feels like almost yesterday, then I think of my cane. A cane is not necessary on the flat coast roads, but I must get one before the mountains.Compared to Pacific side, fishing boats seem rather thinner and sharper, and the sea is much calmer. Or is this just very calm day?

Suddenly a bunch of chimneys appeared over the houses, as they grow from the roofs. The road eventually ends at the entrance of Oil refinery, the pilgrim path is almost leading into with my curiosity, but It sharply turns right at the entrance then to the left along its fence.I normally don’t take much photos of temples, either because I have not much interests or being in a hurry? Today, I wanted to get to the accommodation before the sun sets, I know that there are no time to waste. However the power of Oil is very fascinating, every few steps I stopped to photograph this interesting structures. The flame some how reminded me of blade runner. Perhaps for modern human, the Power of oil is greater than Buddha? I just could not stop taking photos.
In the end it was pitch black, hard to to see the map and to find the road to the accommodation. Again time elapsing strangely in my head, it’s been long time since I have been on this journey.

17.11.2016
52 太山寺
53 円明寺
ビジネスホテルつよし
37km

 

白衣を着て歩き始めると半年前はすぐ昨日の様。杖のことを考える。海沿い平坦な道は必要ないが、山に入る前にどこかのお寺で買わなければと。今日は凪だからかそれとも瀬戸内海だからか、しかし船の形も薄いよう、高知の太平洋側とは海が違う。

突然家々の屋根の上にいくつもの煙突が現れ、そして通りのその先真正面に製油所が現れる。遍路道が私の興味と一緒に中まで引き込まれていくと思いきや正面で右へ。
普段ほとんど寺の写真は撮らない、なぜかあまり興味が惹かれないからか、それとも先を急ぐからだからだろうか。しかし石油の力はすごい、足は遍路道の方向に向かって行っている、宿には日暮れ前に着きたい、が数歩行っては壁越しに一枚、また一枚を繰り返す。吹き出す炎を見ながらブレードランナーみたいだと思いながらまた一枚と。現代人には仏の力より石油の力の方が偉大なのだろうか。結局宿に着く頃には地図が見えないほど真っ暗になってしまった。そしてまた時間は不思議な経ち方をし始める。

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Clouds or haze, crossing Misaka touge. I received tea and sweets at Sakamotoya, and there I met other Ohenros, who I have seen couple of times. By that time sky was showing a sign of hot sunny day. Almost Matsuyama city.There are 6 temples, and those temples are much crowded compared to before. At the 50th temple, after reading the Heart sutra, I realised that my cane is missing from the cane stand. I had waited for 10 minutes to find, but only one cane with same coloured cloth stayed. it was almost brand new, so it must belong to someone who does not go by foot.
I have tighten up the string many times when I walked in rain. The part of wood which underneath cloth, was whiter compared to the exposed part. Although it was only 23 days, it had been gripped by my hands, sunburned, and blown by salt wind. Although normally I do not use the cane on flat asphalt roads, and I even got annoyed that I had to hold it all the time, but now somehow I felt unbalanced and difficult to walk without it. Once you use in the mountains you realised how useful it is, then it had become part of body. I have reached Dougo Onsen with empty mind. Water was hot, cooling down until the time allows.

10.04.2016
46 浄瑠璃寺
47 八坂寺
48 西林寺
49 浄土寺
50 繁多寺
51 石手寺

道後温泉
33km

前半最後の日は朝から満腹。霞か雲か三坂峠を一気に越える。坂本屋でお接待を受け顔見知りのお遍路さんと会う頃には晴れて暑くなりそうな気配。もうすぐ松山。直線的に6軒の寺、参拝客がどこも多い。50番繁多寺、お経の後で自分の杖が見つからない。10分ほど待ったが結局見つかる気配もなく自分の杖と同じ色の布が巻かれた杖が残る。自分の名前しか書いていなかったのは間違えだった、残った杖にも誰かの名前のみ。明らかにキレイなので歩いている人のではなさそう。
雨に濡れ、何回も巻き直した布と紐、取るたびにその覆われた部分は白く見え、そこから下は手垢や、ほこり、日焼けして、たったの23日だが比較するとだいぶ色がついてた。
今日は道後温泉だと意気揚々としていたがそこからは妙に気が落ちた。平坦なアスファルトの道ではそれほど普段つかない、邪魔とさえ思っていたが、山を越えるたびに徐々に体の一部になっていた。杖がないとどうもうまく歩けない、バランスが取れないような気がする。ふらふら、ぼおっと道後温泉に着く。湯は熱めで、時間いっぱいまでぼおっと涼む。

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Traditional Japanese houses make me feel like being out side. It is not just because the building and fitting quality are bad, nor the walls and the doors are thin. Lying on tatami, I could feel the wind and movements of trees, as well as  inside of the house. It is not suitable for cities. Feeling of sunrise or my usual pilgrimage habit, I woke up around 5:45. The cold tatami is very comfortable to swollen feet, I hesitate to put my shoes on.
I was planing to reach the accommodation in Kumakougen by the noon, then hit the 44th and the 45th temple in the afternoon. However, there was a sign “Hiwada-touge closed due to land slid.” there are no one around to ask how severe. The last thing I want, is going back same route. Then I have decided to go through Nosono-touge. Much later than as I planed, I arrived to the accommodation in the afternoon, no time for lunch break, I have left my rucksack, then swiftly head to the 45th. I worried if I could reach there on time.
The 45th Iwayaji is on the middle of cliff or middle of a huge rock, very interesting temple. However, as always I forget to take pictures. After Noukyo, heading back immediately. I wanted to get back to the accommodation before night comes Although I have a touch, in the mountain in the forrest it would be pitch black. Down hill, once I get speed then I can not slow my self down, like a mad man, jumping one side to another, enjoying the speed and wind.
When I get to the accommodation it was already dark. Sweat got colder and I was very hungry. In the end I have done probably around 50km today.09.04.2016
44 大寶寺
45 岩屋寺
一里木
45km
日本の伝統的な家は外にいるような感じだ。
ただ建てつけが悪いとか壁が薄いとかそういったことではなく。畳の上で横たわっていても風や木が揺れているのが感じられ、家の中の様子も。都会には向いていない。太陽が昇るのを感じてか、いつもの癖か5時半45分ごろ目が覚める。冷え畳が腫れた足に気持ちよく、靴を履くのをためらう。

昼までに久万高原の宿に着きそこから44、45と打つ予定、しかし鴇田峠通行不可と。誰かに聞こうとも人気が辺りに全くなく、結局、農祖峠に迂回することにした。予定と大きくずれ宿についたのは昼過ぎ、昼食休憩を取る時間もなく岩屋寺に向けて出発。リュックサックは置いてきたので足取りは軽いもののはたして時間までにたどり着けるか。
岩屋寺は崖の中腹にある、面白い寺、しかしなぜかいつもほとんど寺の写真は撮っていない。納経したらさっさと戻る、日暮れまでには宿に着きたい。懐中電燈は持っているものの山の中はおそらく真っ暗。下りの山道、一度速度に乗ると、狂ったように止まらなくなる。宿に着く頃は結局夕闇の中、汗も冷え、腹も減って疲れ切る。結局実際には50kmほど歩いただろうか。

88_21

Departing with freshly washed clothes and dried shoes.
Sunny, it is going to be quite hot.
“Good morning” so many times, School boarding time, huge number of school kids, compared to the other days.
Roaming in the rain, yesterday was far past, swiftly walking in the warm sunny day no breaks.I saw black swans, first time in my life, “swan” in Japanese is “Hakuchyou = white bird” therefore “black white bird” is weird thing

Entering charming old Uchiko, but very touristic. It spoils my appetite, not suitable for budget hurrying pilgrims. I saw an old theatre only from out side, and then avoided the friendly sales of a historic pharmacy. I presume what they sell are all expired.

Getting snack and meal for tonight and next morning at the Michinoeki (road side station), as the accommodation for tonight does not supply any meal. Always the last part is the hardest. The light gets dramatic but my speed goes down.By the time when I reached to the village where I stay, the sun is about setting, surprisingly I am staying in this house on my own. A huge house but I only need a space for my body size, one tatami. Once I sit I can not stand up any more, after the bath I just fall asleep.

08.04.2016
大瀬の館
40km
綺麗に洗われ乾いた服で、出発。
晴れている、暑くなりそう、登校時間で、ひたすらお早うございます 今日は数が半端じゃない。雨の中を彷徨いながら歩いた一昨日は遥か昔足取り軽く暖かな日、休憩なしでひたすら歩く。黒い白鳥を始めてみた。日本語はちょっとおかしい。

急に趣のある家々が現れる、内子の町。
明らかに観光地していると、どうも止まりにくい、食事の値段も急ぎの遍路向きではない。ゆっくりと色々と見てみたいが、内子座を外からチラッと拝見して、やり手薬屋セールスマンだが、有効期限が心配なので通過、今晩の宿まではまだ少しある。道の駅、宿には食事できるところはないので夕食と朝食買い貯める。いつものように最後がキツい。日が暮れ始めた頃に到着、驚きである。この家に一人だけ。
広い家なのに身の丈、一畳分しか使わない。いつものように座ったらもう立てない、風呂に入ったら寝るだけ。

88_20

Grey dark morning, departing old beautiful Tsushima town.
I passed through Uwajima without much of sight seeing, yet I could not keep the good pace.
After the 41st temple, the weather got worse, then by the time, when I  was about to leave the gate of the 42nd temple, it was raining cats and dogs.
I have decided to have as usual quick lunch, and an Energy drink, which I was served at  Miyoshi ryokan after the breakfast.Going up the mountain road, rain got less and less, I was in the thick cloud, and boiling, almost my swet steam was making all these clouds, or I was a part of it. By the time when I go through the tunnel, which is top of the Hanaga touge, the clouds got thicker and darker, and everything became spookier. After the tunnel is steep down, coming out under the clouds. Again I got back to heavy rain. I quickly checked the map, it is not easy in heavy rain. “6km”. Without thinking of much I was already walking fast. Because of the exhaustion or impatience, I just could not conclude my thoughts. If I walk 7km/h I should be able to get to the 43rd temple by 17, but as I can not keep checking the map due to heavy rain, if I go wrong way,,,, I realised that I was already running, and once I got the rhythm, surprisingly I could just go on and on, even though I had walked 30km with backpack that day already, and about 40km every last days.
As always and expected, there is an extra path and the stairs, after the gate of the temple, which is not shown on the map. I have manage Noukyou (stamped) just on time, then tried to light up incense without breaking nor wet, but my hands are cold and wet, on contrary my body was steaming.
When I get to the Ryokan. I was told by the landlady to take all the clothes off and go to the bath directly, she also washed my cane and took my backpack to my room. Next day every thing was beautifully cleaned and dry.
There are people who give amazing service in this country, when the body is tired everything goes to heart directly.

07.04.2016
41 龍光寺
42 仏木寺
43 明石寺
まつちや旅館
40km

さえない天気で少し薄暗い中、古く美しい津島町を出発。
宇和島の街も通過するだけででもこの日は速度がイマイチのらない。龍光寺を打った後天気はどんどん下り坂。仏木寺を打つと雨は激しくなり、山門を出た所の休憩所で、いつものように急いでおにぎりを食べ、三好旅館で朝食の後に渡された栄養ドリンクを飲み、土砂降りの雨の中、山道に向けて再出発。
雨は次第に弱まり濃密の雲の中汗まみれで登る。歯長峠の上のトンネルを通る頃にはさらに暗く濃くなってきたように思う。峠を下り雲の下へ、また激しい雨。地図が濡れないようにしながら明石寺までの距離を確認する。6km、頭で考える間もなく足は早足。疲れか焦りか、いまいちきちんと計算ができない。17時まで納経、時速7キロで歩けば間に合う、雨で地図を見ながら歩くことができず、畦道で道を間違えたらと考えているうちに、気付くとすでに走っていた。テンポを掴むと連日40kmを歩いて荷物を背負っているが自分でも驚くばかり走り続けられる。案の定一番下の門からは距離の示されていない登り、そして最後に階段。時間ギリギリで到着、納経を先にしてもらい、上着を脱ぐ、手は濡れて凍えているが体は汗まみれ。線香を濡らさないように折らないように火をつけ、無事終了する頃には、汗はすっかり冷えていた。
寺の裏山を抜け卯之町に入るところで古いよく手入れがなされた家が並ぶ。旅館に着くと素晴らしいおもてなし、すべて濡れ切った服を脱ぎそのまま風呂に入れと。次の日までには全て綺麗になっていた。この国には本当におもてなし、サービスができる人たちがいる。体が疲れていると、心に直接突き刺さる。

88_19

I left the accommodation and got into mountains. Two mountain crosses today.
During walking on highway, many things come across in my mind, but on the mountain path, I only concentrate on walking. Some times I glance views in between trees, then keep going. Everyday is almost same, but always new and different path. Long Kochi prefectures came to the end, and now in Ehime.
Approximately 16km from the 40th temple, I met an old woman, she came out from a decayed house,who sis almost the last one standing, next to it there couple of ruins of the houses. She asked me where I came from today, and where I stay tonight. I shortly answered and kept walking. I probably should have bit more conversation as if she lives alone in such remote place in the mountain, but it might be her daily routine to ask every Ohenro = pilgrims.
By the time when I get to the accommodation, it was already dark.

06.04.2016
40 観自在寺
三好旅館
45km

宿を出て山に入る。今日は二つの峠越え。国道を歩いている時は様々なことを考えているが、山道は歩くことだけに集中できる、鬱蒼とした木々の間を汗をかきながらひたすら歩く、時折抜けた景色を横目に眺め歩く。毎日同じことのようであるが、いつも違った先を進んでいく。長い高知県を抜け、愛媛に入る。
観自在寺から16km地点、老婆に出会う。山道の木々の間に建つ朽ち果てたような家の土間でお茶を飲んでいた、私を見るなり出てきて、どこから来てどこまで行くのかと尋ねられる。簡潔に答え先に進んでしまったが、こんな外れに一人で住んでいるのだったらもう少し話しても良かったのではと思う。宿に着く頃には日は暮れてしまった。

88_18

In Shikoku, as soon as leaving the coast, and the sea is no longer in my sight, I feel that I am in the middle of no where, far away from the sea. Walking next to rice fields in between mountains.
Shoes do not conduct the heat from asphalt, but tired swollen feet are heating up.

05.04.2016
39 延光寺
宿毛フレックス
39km

海沿いをわずかに離れるとすぐに海の気配がなくなる。ひたすら山間の田んぼの畦道を歩く。日差しが強いと熱いアスファルトに足を灼かれているように感じるが、靴底を通して熱が伝わってくるわけではなく疲労で足の裏が腫れている。

88_17

After leaving the accommodation, walking on the soft beach in warm mist, heading to the Cape Ashizuri.Back to the asphalt along the cliff, towards to the cape, mist cleared up. Gradually vegetation changes to Subtropical.Three days after the last temple, eventually Temple Kongofukuji, there are turtles everywhere, statues and symbols. I saw a carcass of turtele on the way next to small fishing port, where it was slightly dirty part. I did not notice until I was almost step on it, I got surprised and frightened then kept walking, I did not even check properly. Has it died because of rubbish?

In Japan, vending machines are common sight, it also appears in the middle of no where as well. I think it looks incredibly ugly, and not suitable in beautiful nature. Slightly coloured flavoured water poured in to cans or plastic bottles then transported all the way, then inserted to vending machines which runs 24hours, using electricity to cool or warm drinks. Water in Shikoku is very good. I start a day filling a used plastic bottle with tap water. Plastic bottles are light and strong, also soft when the content are gone, it can squeeze in to bags, then reusable. Instead of chucking straight after the initial filled drinks are drunk, it is better to reuse so many times than recycled. I think buying a portable bottle is just creating another rubbish. I have seen a person buying a bottle of drink and put it in one’s bottle, then chucking immediately that plastic bottle.

At the edge of cliff, gazing at waves covering rocks, made me forget about time passing. I also walked around there to see from different places, although my feet hurts, normally I avoid even an extra step. It was very quiet as there were no other bunch of pilgrims nor tourists. Despite of morning mist and low clouds, sight was clear. As the name Ashizuri (means dragging legs) I walked all the way up to here, beautiful, quite and some how slightly sad, but feeling immeasurable.
However This is the half way, turning point of this day and this pilgrimage. Passing the cape, passing villages and Clouds are passing, the sun is coming back soon.

04.04.2016
38 金剛福寺
大岐の浜
42km

足摺岬を目指す。宿を出発して砂浜を行く、生暖かい霧なのか雲なのか。またすぐ普通の舗装された道に入るが、岬に近づくにつれ霧は少なくそして植物は少し亜熱帯。金剛福寺は三日ぶりのお寺。亀にまつわるものがそこらじゅうにある、途中浜に打ち上げられた亀の死骸を見た。すぐそばまで気付かずにいたのでいきなり現れて驚いて、あまり観察もせずにすぐに去ってしまったが、ゴミなどもいっぱい落ちていてあまり綺麗なところではなかったので、やはり自然死というよりも人災なのではないだろうか。
何もない道の途中で自動販売機が突然道の脇にあることがある、日本以外に住んでいると自動販売機は意外な光景である。人もあまりいないところにポツンと立っている。ある意味平和な国である、誰も破壊して商品や金銭を盗んだりしないのだから。また利便性、資本主義的であまり深く考えないようでもある。どこかはるか遠くで水を加工して缶に詰め、それをわざわざ運んで、また機械に詰め、電線を引っ張って電気を通して二十四時間冷却または温めて人があまりいないところで売る。何よりもその機械自体が自然の中で異様で美しくない。四国の水はとてもいい。私は使用済みのペットボトルに水を入れ一日を始める。水筒なんていうものを買うのはゴミをまた一つ増やすようなものだ。ペットボトルは薄く軽く、蓋もきちんと閉まり、中身が無くなれば柔らかいので形も変わりいっぱいのバッグにも詰めこめるし何回も使用できる。断崖絶壁の足摺岬。波を見ているとついつい時間がったてしまう、また他の角度からも見てみたく足が疲れていてもついつい辺りをうろうろしてしまった。団体お遍路さんや観光客が来ないこともあって非常に静か、雲は低いが視界は良く、その名の通り足の痛みを感じてここまで来たことと、美しくどことないさみしい感じの岬は感慨無量。しかしここが、この日と、四国お遍路の折り返し地点。岬を通り過ぎ村を通り過ぎ、雲が通り過ぎていく、また暑い太陽が出てくる。

88_16

A good sleep in a huge room with sound of ocean.Hazy morning, heading to Shimanto river today. There are many kites in Shikoku, it is easy to spot them at the coast. They are entertaining to look at, while walking on boring high way.
At a convenience store, just before the Shimanto river bridge,  I met many other pilgrims. Every one was there for the first morning break, refiling and preparing for rain. It was obvious that heavy clouds were about to come. Shimanto river is famous for clear water but it is mirky emerald green. At halfway on the bridge, from front right side, I was swallowed. Sight and memory got narrower and darker in pouring rain. Like a fish, just swimming through without any thoughts and emotions.After a very long tunnel, entering Tosashimizu, pouring rain was already turned into lukewarmly clouds. Again along the coast, Mist here is very noisy, it is the vapour form of pacific’s black current, inhaling into my lungs.
Tomorrow, eventually the cape Ashizuri.

03.04.2016
大岐の浜
34km

大部屋で海の音を聞きながらよく寝た。霞みがかった朝、四万十川に向けて出発。
海沿いでは木が無いせいか鳶が良く目につき、その後を目で追ってみるのは退屈な国道を歩く時のちょっとした楽しみだ。道路脇の花。四万十河の橋の手前のコンビニで他のお遍路さんたちと会う、朝の1回目の休憩、買い出し、雨具の装着。雨がすぐそこまでどんどん迫ってくるのは明らかだった。エメラルドグリーンに濁っていた四万十川、橋の半分を過ぎたところで飲み込まれる。視界も記憶も狭く、暗くなり後はほぼ魚のように何も考えず泳いで進む。長いトンネルを抜け土佐清水市に入ると雨というよりも、生ぬるい雲の中を進む。道路とは逆に鳥居がある緑に飲み込まれかけた小さな神社。また海岸に出て、太平洋、黒潮の気体の部分、ザワザワとした音の多い霧を呼吸しながら進む。
明日はついに足摺岬。