Shikoku Journal – Day 00

Before my OHenro began, I had to get to Shikoku.

I had been in Osaka for a day previous and did a reasonable job navigating around. Fortunately my AirBnB host had given me a WiFi hostspot but without that I was relying on paper maps. On top of that, I was determined to take local transportation to save money and get a more local view of Japan.

I left the AirBnB with everything and set out for the Osaka Bus Terminal. I didn’t have too much trouble finding it, except that the signs would point most of the way and standing a half block or so I had to scope out the rest of the way there.

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Once at the terminal, I had the first of many humbling experiences; the teller and I could barely communicate but she went out of her way to help me. I grabbed the next bus, leaving in about an hour, and set off to find some food. After eating a downright royal meal of Sashimi, I got back in time for the bus and got on.

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The trip was long, beautiful and uneventful except for the butterflies in my stomach. Just as I’m sure many before me, I wondered if I could find more than a bench to sleep on for the night. Actually, even before that, I wondered if I could even get to the first temple.

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Arriving at around 1600 in Tokushima, I asked a local policeman where I could get the bus to Ryozen-Ji. Once again I’ll stress this. Know Japanese. Not only is it courtesy it’s also good to know when someone says, “The third Terminal” or “Third House” or “Third Anything,” later I would know what people had said to me but at the time it was a tad embarrassing.

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After once again working with the extremely patient teller window I got a ticket for the bus… Not remembering which one at the moment but I will probably review this post later with my notes.

 

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Hopping on the bus, was terrifying. All of my fears came to light over the 45 minute trip to the temple. I realized, sitting in the back, I was actually going to walk this journey. Flying from Seattle, taking the bus from Osaka, they didn’t mean much strangely. But sitting there, with my paper map and a final destination of a temple it all became more real than I wanted it to.

But then there I was, standing before the first temple.

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This is where I first learned to enjoy fear.

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It would take sometime, and taking in the journey alone, before truly know how liberating being afraid is. I had forgotten this lesson recently but filling out this journal should help.

Later, after some assistance from the temple shop, I found a dorm to stay in. I’ll continue that story in the next post.

 

Shikoku OHenro Journal – An overview of the OHenro

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As a start to the new year I will be posting from my journal walking the OHenro in October of 2012. Before I get into my personal experience and photos there is a great video produced by NHK, forwarded to me by a fellow pilgrim, that provides a look at the details and day to day of the walking.

 

Not keeping a journal after all

So it turns out WiFi, or any internet, is hard to find in Shikoku so I won’t be keeping a journal. While I’m in Tully’s here in Tokushima I will say this, come here. Period. The people here are amazing, the temples are amazing, the island is amazing.

Osaka to Tokushima to Ryozen-ji

The absolute first thing to mention is how extremely helpful and patient people have been. I took a local route to get to Ryozen-ji, the first temple, through a inter-island bus then the local bus. In both places there was no English signage or guide books however walking up to the counter and with a bit of pointing both times the attendants got me to the right place, and just in time. I really can’t express how thankful I am. The trip from Osaka to Ryozen-ji was about 4 hours but it passed pretty quickly. Once I got to the temple I took a moment to pray and wash my hands but got to the store just as it was closing. Fortunately the keeper was still there and directed me to a hostel down the street where the owner marked out important notes on the route and took us grocery shopping.

 

Osaka

After a delightful 12 hour flight from Seattle I arrived in Osaka and spent the next day exploring the city in foot, a good prelude to spending every day on foot. Once again I’ll write more at some point.