I was up at 04:40 updating my notes when I heard the rain start to fall outside. It looked like it was going to be the wet day that had been forecast and in a strange way I was glad that I would be staying put rather than walking. During the first pilgrimage I had walked every single day and often found myself rushing to get to temples. This had happened for a number of reasons and the primary reason was that I was unfamiliar with the trail and also unfamiliar with suitable places to stay. I had planned to camp out much more until I discovered, thanks to Takuya, that there were in fact many zenkonyado places like Sakae Taxis. This time I had set myself a target of about 50 days to walk around Shikoku and the main purpose was to cut down on the average distance I walked each day. During my first pilgrimage there had been too many 40km days and the extra time was to cut down or avoid these. This time I also had a much better idea of where the lodgings were and also where lodgings I had not used before or known about before were. I knew it would help with my overall planning and these were the thoughts going through my midn as I lay listening to the rain falling outside.
Just before 7 o'clock Das got up and then headed out to go to Idoji (#17). She planned to return to Sakae Taxis after finishing her prayers there. Soon after Das left, Kenta also got up and folded and put away his bedding. The next temple he was planning to visit was actually Shosanji (#12) but he had not said anything about his plans yesterday. What Kenta had done was skip Shosanji (#12) after going to Fujidera (#11) and completed up to Idoji (#17). The approach to Shosanji (#12) from this side seemed to be more accessible on a bicycle than the regular hiking trail which we walking pilgrims could take. He seemed to have made his mind up that he was going so with a little help from myself and Inoue-san we helped him cover up his side panniers as best we could with bin liners. His panniers looked very good but they didn't really look like they were waterproof. With rain coming down as hard as ever we said goodbye to him and watched him ride away.
I didn't really have a clear plan for the day. I thought I would spend most of the day at Sakae Taxis updating my notes and planning my journey going forward. With Idoji (#17) already out of the way, I was confident that tomorrow I would easily make it through to Tatsueji (#19) and then on to the zenkonyado about 5km further on. During the first pilgrimage, Takuya and I had lost time going back to Kanonji (#16) and although we managed to complete Idoji (#17) and Onsanji (#18) we couldn't make it to Tatsueji (#19) in time for the stamp and ended up having to sleep in the waiting room at Tatsueji Station.
With both Das and Kenta gone I decided to do something useful so I tidied up the place. I folded and stacked all the bedding neatly and then tidied up the main room. Pilgrims who had stayed in the past had left behind all kinds of things behind. Amongst the collection, I found a poncho. Das had bought a simple rain jacket yesterday from the convenience store but this particular poncho looked like it would do the job of keeping dry much better. I put it to the side to give to her later.
Das was back a few hours later and we both decided to head out to see if we could find a coffee shop nearby. We didn't find a coffee shop but we came upon a very nice looking bread shop so we headed in to pick up a few snacks. After asking about a coffee shop we were led out of the shop and in through another door which seemed to take us into the a part of the house that was at the very back of the bread shop. It was completely unexpected but she had actually ended up inviting us into her home and making coffee for us. I had started carrying my photographs in my ohenro bag and now my response whenever I received osettai was to automatically pull out my photographs and ask people to choose one. I asked the lady to choose any she liked and she ended up taking two. Again it was a very small price to pay for the kindness we had been shown. Das and I thanked the lady and then headed to a nearby 7 Eleven.
We spent nearly 2 hours in the 7 Eleven just talking about general things which included a bit of "pilgrim oath violation" complaining about things unrelated to ohenro. That aside we made good use of the free wifi at the 7 Eleven, decided it would be nice to take Inoue-san and his wife to dinner in the evening and also to maybe to pop into Tokushima City. Before leaving the 7 Eleven I gave some photographs to the shop staff and then we returned briefly to Sakae Taxis to tell Inoue-san about our wish to take him and his wife to dinner. We agreed we would be back at Sakae Taxis at 6 o'clock.
We took a local train the few stops to the center of Tokushima. Das had errands she wanted to run so she left and went to do those. I mostly wanted to print some photographs and buy some better quality socks. I had had no problems at all with my feet but the toes socks I had bought were not particularly good quality. I had picked up a pack of 3 for 1000 yen from a UniQlo. This had definitely not been a good buy because just 5 days in they were beginning to show real wear and tear. I couldn't find a hiking goods shop but the best I found was a shop selling nothing but socks and the best they had were runners socks. I ended up buy a single pair for 1900 yen. I gave the shop assistant a photograph before I left.
With the socks purchased the next thing I wanted to do was print some more photographs and for that I knew exactly where to go because I had already seen a Fuji Film shop in the basement of the station building when I arrived in Tokushima at the very start of my journey. I had just not anticipated that I would have got through so many photographs in such a short space of time. The Fuji Film shop had the self service printing machines so it was no problem to print out another 40 prints. I now needed to buy the clear sleeves I had been putting them into and those I had got from a 100 yen shop. I was looking around for one when I spotted a non-Japanese who I thought might be a local. When I stopped him and asked, he told me he worked in Tokushima as an English teacher. His name was Joel and when I asked him if he knew where I could find a 100 yen shop he did better than just tell me, he took me back into the station building and showed me exactly where it was on the 4th floor. After chatting to him for a while, I thanked him with a photograph and a recommendation that he should do ohenro. I found the clear sleeves I had been looking for and a few extra zip lock bags and then just hung about the station waiting to meet up with Das again.
When Das turned up we were soon both on a train heading back to Kou Station which was just a short 10 minute walk from Sakae Taxis. We were back exactly on 6 o'clock and Inoue-san got ready to leave with us. He told us his wife would not be joining but that another friend would be joining instead. We hadn't decided where we were going to go but he seemed to have everything taken care of. He was going to take us to a fish restaurant in Naruto which was a 35 minute drive away. Along the way we stopped to pick up his friend who happened to speak pretty good English having lived in Australia for a while. The name of the restaurant was Sakana Binbi and Inoue-san told us it was a a very well known fish restaurant in this part of Tokushima.
We enjoyed what I think was a grilled fish. There was also sashimi and best of all, a wakame (seaweed) miso soup which I absolutely loved. This particular miso soup had the local wakame which Inoue-san told us was considered one of the best in Japan. I was no expert on wakame but I liked my miso soup for sure. After finishing my bowl and I had no trouble finishing Das's too. It had been another good meal and I got a feeling Inoue-san was ready to leave when he stood up and made for the bill which was on the table near to me. I grabbed quickly and passed it to Das and told Inoue-san that Das was gong to pay. We had already told him it was our treat for letting us stay a second night at Sakae Taxis.
On the way back Inoue-san dropped his friend of again and then took us into Tokushima City for a bit of a private tour. First stop was the bridge which is lit up with thousands of LED lights which slowly change colour to create interesting shapes. Next was what turned out to be one the realhighlight of the evening, a visit to Awa Odori Kaikan. I didn't actually know but I soon discovered that there were daily awa odori dance performances that took place in the building. In fact there were several performances throughout the day but the show or shows after 20:30 were free admission. It was not time for free admission yet but Inoue-san seemed to manage to take us inside. There was a dance performance going on with about 40 or 50 people in the audience enjoying the show. The music and the style of the dance was very entertaining to watch. At the end of the performance the dancers encouraged members of the audience to go onto the stage and dance with them. Das was quick to go after a little persuasion from Inoue-san. As for me, I decided to pass because I was dressed in full rain gear, wearing my hiking boots and lacking any confidence to try. When the show finished Inoue-san took us back to Sakae Taxis. Our osettai dinner for Inoue-san had turned into a really fun evening. After a nice hot shower I was ready to get some sleep. It had not been a particularly difficult day because on the whole it had been completely the opposite. Even though there had been no official ohenro activity it was still nice to have been on the receiving end of the osettai we had received at the bread shop and for me personally to have continued sharing my photographs with the many people I had met throughout the day. The day ended on a bit of a high but I was looking forward to resuming normal service and getting back into the regular ohenro routine and the regular ohenro spirit.
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