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Wanderings and Misadventures of The Toes Ramblings of a fledgling traveler...

Challenges

JAPAN | Sunday, 7 March 2010 | Views [458] | Comments [3]

Shikoku is very pretty and hilly. It's unfortunate that there is so much construction on and between the hills but I can imagine what the landscape would look like untouched if I try hard enough.

I'm staying at my first "ryokan". That's a Japanese style inn with tatami mat floors, a low table and a futon. It's nice to have my own room for a couple of nights, not that sharing was that bad. There are some perks such as scratching my ass at will and sitting in my dainties. The caretaker lady is very nice. She brought me a snack last night as well as a huge pot of tea (Tea before bed is not such a great idea). A little later she came by to let me know I could use the shower. What she actually meant was that she had run a nic ehot bath for me! Service. I washed up a-la Japanese style with a bucket and bench then soaked in the tub for a while. It's very short, deep and stainless steel. I felt like a potato boiling in a pot. But damn it was nice and much needed.

Earlier that day I had a fairly quick bus ride from Osaka to Tokushima. I killed some time by exploring Mt. Bizan. I took the gondola up though I was temted to just walk up and save some cask. At the top the view was incredible; I could see clear across the Naruto Channel to the Kansai region where I had come from that morning. While enjoying the view I glanced over to a small museum. A man was at the door waving, I waved back and he came out to chat. Unfortunately I only understood every tenth word or so and even then the accent was difficult to follow. He pointed out some landmarks for a while then asked if I was a student. I get that question a lot so it's a good thing I understand it. When he found out I was leaving for the first temple of the 88 temple pilgrimage he eagerly invited me inside for my very first "osettai". An osettai is a gift, either spiritual or physical, to a henro (pilgrim) from a non-henro. You have to accept as it is as though they are giving it to Kobo Daishi himself. He's the Buddhist saint who brought Buddhism to Japan (some claim) and established many temples on Shikoku (again, so it is claimed). I was offered tea and candies while the man handed me maps and pamphlets about the area. I already had most of them but I didn't refuse.

When you are given osettai it is expected that a nameslip is given in return. I felt terrible that I didn't have any yet; they're at the first temple and I'm only going there tomorrow. I hope to come back at some point during or just after the pilgrimage to give them one in return.

Afterward I wandered around the top of Mt. Bizan taking in the landscape below. Soon I'll be walking across those hills. I realized while up there that I'm not worried about the walk. I know I can handle it physically, though I will get sore a complain a little. What bothers me the most is my poor Japanese comprehension. I want to understand everyone I meet; not just to make things easier though. I want to get to know people and hear their stories. It's pretty sad to know they're excited to share with you and all you can do is smile and nod.

I've separated some things from my large bag. I want to bring the small one only on this walk. I'll try to get ahold of some people here to see if I can store it with them. Wish me luck.

(Sorry there aren't any new pictures today. This computer is really slow!)

 

Comments

1

Hey there travelling girl!

Right on! Sounds like you're having a blast - wish I could see the sights you're seeing - can't wait to hear about all of your adventures.

Spring seems to be here...the ice is melting and the nice weather is coming out to play.

Happy travels my friend.

-Shane

  Shane Mar 8, 2010 4:37 PM

2

Wow Toes!

Sounds like a great adventure so far. Looking forward to hearing more about your pilgramige (sp?). I'm wide awake right now when I should be catching zzz (10:30pm here). Glad to have something interesting to read ;).

Thinking of you! Oh, when you're at one of the temples pls send a prayer or blessing for Sophie and I to get healthy again soon. We're tired of coughing and runny noses. Lol! Btw, thanks for yor parting gift of bronchitis ;) (no worries, I'm on the antibiotics now). Besides, gives me something to remind me if you.

Love your sis,
Sos

  Sonia Mar 9, 2010 2:30 PM

3

Sounds like your henro started off rough, but you'll get the hang of it. "Doh-say" is a good one to use, since it roughly translates to "oh really?"

Have fun and don't miss us too much.

  Soup Mar 11, 2010 4:29 AM

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