Gail (my favourite pilgrim) and friends, Shikoku, Japan, 2017
November 20, 2017: Shirotori Onsen to Temple 1. We started our Henro pilgrimage on September 28, 2015 at Temple 1. Today, we complete the circuit, visiting all 88 temples on the Henro-michi and returning to our starting point at Temple 1.
November 19, 2017. Nagao to Shirotori Onsen via Temple 88, the last temple on the Henro-michi.
November 17, 2017. Kokuba to Takamatsu.
November 13, 2017. Kanonji to Zentsūji via 7 temples and a bowl of udon.
November 12: Miyoshi to Kanonji
April 21, 2017
Walking a pilgrimage can be a solitary activity. Gail and I have each other for company, but many travel solo. On occasion our paths mesh for just a moment, loosely intertwining on the trail or at a temple. We exchange pleasantries as best we can, considering we speak only English and they, with few exceptions, are Japanese and speak only Japanese. The 88-temple route is, after all, a pilgrimage deeply engrained in Japanese history and culture. This is their pilgrimage and we are the Western interlopers.
But there are growing numbers of foreigners plying this path. Just as we discovered the Henro-michi back home, so too have any number of other foreign nationals. We have met pilgrims from the United States, Australia, China, France and the Netherlands.
Today, our route will cross paths with Simon from Germany. Continue reading
April 10, 2017
We are reluctant to leave the luxurious digs of Kuroshio Honsen. After all, here we are enjoying our Japanese breakfast and, just outside our table-side window, rain pours down over scenic Kure Bay, reducing it to a sorry display of blue-greys. But there are 28 kilometres to cover and we know there’s a reward at the end of this day’s trek.
Rain is no longer our nemesis. It has become more of an unshakable partner. It may not have been invited to our adventure but it adds to the conversation. A ceaseless downpour accompanies us all day. In its shadowless light, bright flowers – yellows, pinks, reds, whites – glow against a backdrop of muted greens. Rain drops cling to the soft pink and white petals of magnolia blooms. Cherry blossoms, nearing the end of their brief spring performance, tumble to earth under the weight of the steady rain. Clusters of vivid red camellia florets carpet our royal procession along the henro-michi. Continue reading