Above: Temple #28 under the rock
Since I had sort of messed up the official route by visiting more temples the second day of pilgrimage, I had to wing it a little and try to reach Temple 30 in a day so I would have only one more day left.
My route this day was: Temple #24 Temple #25 Temple #26 Temple #27 Temple #28 Temple #29 Temple 30. Between Temple #29 and Temple #30 I took the train from Urayamaguchi station to Shiroku station as I was running out of time and the walk between those two temples was over two hours. The only time I felt uncomfortable walking along a major road next to heavy traffic was just after leaving Temple #24. The caretaker at Temple #24 had warned me about the dangers and how right he was: it was a very curvy and tight road with loads of trucks and fast driving cars coming around almost blind corners with no pavement for me to walk on.
Above: Peaceful Temple #30 with its beautiful garden.
I was now really walking through the countryside and the pilgrimage had really grown on me by this time. The temples were getting further apart again after they were rather close together on the second day. I also started to get the feeling that fewer and fewer pilgrims would reach these temples and sometimes it took a bit of puzzling to find the location where to get the stamp as I don’t read kanji and a kind note on a door telling a pilgrim were to go was a big barrier.
I guess because I was carrying this large camera and camera bag around, this day monks and caretakers would regularly show me folders or photo albums full of photographs of the temple. Really helpful if you don’t have much time to find the best angle for your shots 🙂
You must visit Temple #26 to get the temple stamp but it is worth to climb the stairs up into the mountains and visit Iwaidou, the secret Kannon Hall of Temple #26. From there you can hike directly to the Giant Kannon statue that towers over Temple #27.
Above: Iwaidou — the secret Kannon Hall of Temple #26
Above: the Giant Kannon statue of Temple #27
Temple #28 was very impressive underneath its massive rock and Temple #30 was very peacefully located in a carefully constructed garden.
From Temple #30 I returned to Shiroku station and from there to Seibu Chichibu station.
Maybe a nice anecdote: When I walked up the hill to reach Temple #30, I passed three kids who were dillydallying on their way home after school. After exchanging “konnichiha’ as I passed them, they practiced their English on me but after a few replies to their “hello” ‘s and “how do you do”’s I walked on to be able to use the last light of the day for my photos as the temple was on a slope facing north and the sun had already set behind the mountain. By the time I had collected my stamp and finished my prayer, the kids showed up at the temple and very enthusiastically started relating the whole ‘adventure’ to their father, the monk of the temple when they discovered me again taking the last of my photos. Their story cut short and they mumbled ‘ah, ano hito’ after which they became all very shy all of a sudden 🙂
Read all about the last day of the pilgrimage here.