The Pilgrimage Part II


The next section of the pilgrimage started with a hike into the mountains covering an

increase in elevation of 3500 feet. This is equivalent to climbing the Washington

Monument seven times, nonstop.



Mountain Temple

At the top of the mountain was a beautiful temple. After a six hour

hike, the rice balls and noodle soup really tasted great.



Generation Gap

This man was proud that his seventeen-year-old granddaughter would

come on pilgrimage with him. When asked how he felt about her being

so much taller than he was, he said that it seemed only natural.

After all, he said, his children were also taller than he was.



High Tech Pilgrim

The cell phone generally seemed to work throughout the course of

the pilgrimage, no matter how far into the mountains the path progressed.

This made it convenient to make a reservation at the next inn or to get the

weather report.



Extreme Pilgrim

Along the way I met Mr. Takaba, shown here with his wife. He is a distance

runner and intended to run the entire 700 mile course. At the rate he was

going I estimated that it would take him little more than two weeks to cover

the distance it takes the average pilgrim to do in two months.



Eastern Medicine

Miraculous cures have been reported by some people who have gone on the

eight-eight temple pilgrimage. These signs, posted in a temple, say, "Every

day is moxibustion day." and, "If you have hepatitis, please ask us."

I thought I might post my card here with a note saying, "And if you have

a toothache, call Dr. Ward."



Mountain Trail

The pilgrimage followed some beautiful mountain trails.



New Friends

I met up with new friends Don Weiss and family while on the trail. He

did the pilgrimage about twenty years ago and wrote a book about it.



Temple Accommodations

Many of the temples provide accommodations and meals for the pilgrims

at a very reasonable price. Sleeping arrangements are often dormitory style,

with ten or twenty people in a tatami mat room. My experience has been

that pilgrims, without exception, all snore.



Gifts for Pilgrims

It is custom to give gifts of food, lodging or money to the pilgrims. When

we stopped to ask directions from this woman, she gave us a yogurt drink

and some candy. It is considered very bad manners to refuse these gifts.

The pilgrim will often pray for the gift giver at the next temple he visits.



Head Priest

I met the head priest from a big temple in western Japan. He was

on pilgrimage with over one hundred of his parishioners.



The Coast

After seven days and one hundred miles of hiking I reached the costal

village of Hiwasa. I spent the night in the temple accommodations,

bought a used mountain bike, and took off down the coast road on the

next leg of my journey.