3 04 2012

an explanation of sorts


University happened that’s what.  If you haven’t guessed by now, all that studying tends to kill my blogging muses.

But we are on spring break next week, so I hope to at least get the next post out.

Have no fear, I’m not abandoning this until I’ve finished, it’s just had to sit lower on my priority scale.

Until then!

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26 02 2012

just an announcement about a change to your regularly scheduled iHenro


Just a quick announcement, I start back at university tomorrow, so I’ll be revising my scheduled posting days.  Look out for new posts on Wednesdays and Sundays (more or less)~

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24 02 2012

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November 25, 2011, Day 5

  • Walking from 7:40 am to 3pm
  • 2 temples (Idoji, Onzanji)
  • 20.2 km
  • Staying at Minshuku Chiba (6825 yen including dinner and breakfast)

Today I had to push myself.  Legs are feeling very very stiff and my calves hurt!

I exchanged name slips with my two new friends at breakfast, and then we were off around 7:40.  Made it to the first temple shortly after 8.  Then it was the long slog to temple 18.

I took the route through Tokushima city.  It was interesting to see a little more of Tokushima, but it’s not a huge city.  Nor does it have much of anything really.  But it was better than climbing the 150 m pass if I used the other way.

Followed route 55 for most of the day.  All in all not very inspiring.

Did have a woman stop and talk to me –…

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20 02 2012

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Day 4 was a day of contradictions in a way.  By the afternoon my legs were so sore and stiff, getting up stairs was near impossible.  And the last 6 km was a real challenge, mostly flat, but because my legs were giving me so much grief I couldn’t move as fast as I would have liked and it felt as if it really dragged out.  However, all that being said, it was my favourite day!  Mostly because the downhill stretch was so beautiful.

As per usual I left pretty early in the morning, and because I started out in the mountains it was still somewhat dark.  But as soon as I got through the pass I had the morning sun breaking over mountains, valleys, and little townships.  So very pretty.  The sky was a gorgeous blue, and the water in the river was just so clear.  Not at all…

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17 02 2012

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November 24, 2011, Day 4

  • Walking from 7:30 am to 4pm
  • 4 temples (Dainichiji, Jorakuji, Kokubunji, Kan-onji)
  • 24.9 km
  • Staying at Uroko-ro (7650 yen including dinner and breakfast)

Boy, do my legs hurt (and feel stiff).

I let the others at the lodge last night talk me into the extra 6km.  So tonight I’m near No. 16, rather than No. 13.

Actually made good time to 13, 5.5 hours.  Considering I thought it would be all down hill, but actually there was a pass we crossed and then mostly downhill.  Today is wasn’t cow smells, but chicken smells.

And there was this one bridge.  If you could call it that.  More like planks were there used to be a bridge.  But it was very very pretty in the mountains and along the river.  It was amazingly blue.

After 13 it was back to Tokushima city and suburbia.  It actually took…

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Henro Day 3: Refelctions

14 02 2012

First posted at iHenro!

It’s no surprise that I like hiking, so it should also be no surprise that day 3 was one of my favourite days.

The trail from temple 11 to temple 12 is a ‘Henro Korogashi’ which I’ve only seen translated as Pilgrim falls down. I think a better translation would be Pilgrim’s downfall. There are a few points along the pilgrimage which are known as Korogashi, and they are known as that because they are particularly steep or arduous, and day 3 is the first test for any pilgrim.

I’ve spoken to another friend who attempted doing the pilgrimage a few years ago, and day 3 was as far as he got, so I was a little nervous about what to expect. In fact, I was quite ready to pull out if the weather went bad, or it was too difficult to do in trail runners. A funny thing, at temple 11 there is a mini pilgrimage before you start the trail, so if you don’t make it you could just pay your respects at the little shrines circling Fujidera.

Overall, I found my first Korogashi not too bad. None of the mountains were particularly tall, and all the steep areas had stairs. It would still have been nice to have a walking stick though. It was a bit annoying that it wasn’t like a ridge walk, and you had to go all the way up and then all the way down all three peaks. There were also a few people on the trail, not only fellow pilgrims, but also locals out for some exercise.

One thing I love about hiking is being in nature. Japan has really lovely scenery, quite different from what I’m accustomed to in Australia. Day 3 was mostly hiking through cedar forests, which have this mysterious air to them I think. And there were a few bamboo groves along the way as well as a great view of the river basin that I walked across the previous day.

Arriving at Shosanji was a little surreal. It is a very pretty temple, but the contrast between the natural forest on the trail and the not-so-natural scenery at the temple was a little disconcerting. Or maybe it was running into all the bus pilgrim crowds. Shosanji has an interesting story about it’s foundation, apparently a dragon was terrorising the mountain, but was contained in a cave by Kobo Daishi, thus saving the people of the mountain.

My accommodation for the night (Nabeiwa-so) would have to be my favourite place I stayed the whole trip. It was really really lovely, and also probably the best value for money. I think the building was somewhat new, but built in a rustic style, and even smelled of fresh cut wood. There were about 8 Henro staying that night (mostly older retired men, but also one other woman), so dinner in the dining hall was a very lively affair. Oh, and dinner was really yummy, fresh greens, rice, miso, and tempura!

The mix of people I met this day was very interesting. It included a two local men who were out for some morning exercise by hiking the first mountain. A couple of young university students from Kansai doing a few days on trail. A woman from Shizuoka doing the trail a few days at a time. Another man from Tochigi who was planning on doing about 2 weeks. And also an older man who was doing the trail in reverse, and for the 5th time! They say doing the trail in reverse is something like 3 times harder than the regular way.

So, finally, here’s a picture of me, just to show you how I was kitted out. I’m wearing the pilgrim’s white coat, but my little bag of supplies was in my backpack that day. I also ended up wearing my rain jacket under the coat quite frequently as I found it to be a good wind breaker. Apart from that I was wearing just a long sleeve t-shirt, hiking trousers, trail runners and a head sock or cap. Although you can’t see it, my pack looked big, but was only about 6kg, and on the waist strap I have my camera bag. Not going to win any beauty contests with this outfit, but it was really comfortable and functional.

Henro Day 3: Journal

10 02 2012

Originally posted at iHenro!

23 November, 2011, Day Three

  • Walking from 7:30 am to 4pm
  • 1 temple (Shosanji)
  • 17.9 km
  • Staying at Nabeiwa-so (6825 yen including dinner and breakfast)

Made it! I kept telling myself if I got though today I could get through anything! And I did. 17.9 km, 3 mountains, 1 temple (and 12.9 km in 5 and a half hours with breaks – I’m proud!).

Start of the trail at Fujidera

Started out after a quick breakfast of croissants at the hotel then walked back to Fujidera. Started out on the trail around 8 o’clock. To be honest, the mountains weren’t that hard, 600m, 745m and 705m, but three in 5.5 hours was a challenge. And I had a blister (but luckily it’s under my foot and gave me no trouble with a band-aid on).

Kobo Daishi at Joren-an

Kept crossing paths with new people today. And spiders. At Joren-an (the last shrine before Shosanji) there was a lovely statue with a huge cedar tree behind it.

Shosanji (No. 12)

Shosanji temple itself was lovely, up amongst the cedars. Stayed there for an hour of so before heading to the lodgings for tonight – Nabeiwa-so. On the way I was stopped at a shop and invited to have some coffee and persimmon as osettai. There I met another pilgrim from Tochigi. Most pilgrims seem to be retired men!

The lodge itself is beautiful. New looking yet traditional and rustic with exposed beams and a lovely cedar smell.

Sign marking Henro Korogashi

So my first henro korogashi challenge is past! Only one more in Tokushima. Looking forward to a good sleep and some flat ground tomorrow!

By the way, I’m in the Cosmos room 😀