Day 40: getting closer

I completely missed the alarm, this morning. I just slept through it and woke up at 7.00 AM instead of 6.30. An unmistakable sign from my body that was telling me to take it easy, today.

And so I did, taking longer breaks and some shortcuts here and there, in order to reach the temple #80 in the early afternoon.

I love these giant trees. They smell of history and are treated with the utmost respect by the locals.

Before reaching the 77th temple, Dōryūji, I walked by a school where I could here a class playing the recorder (kind of flute). It reminded me of the good times when I was in school, and played the recorder myself.

I’ve never been too much into listening to music, but I loved playing it. The feeling of mastering a difficult piece (for a kid) like the Bolero from Ravel was great. Still, I never actually cultivated this hobby as I should have. It makes me a bit sad sometimes, but alas, I just focused on other things while growing up.

On my way to the temple, a man called me shouting “O-henro-san!” and waving to me. He gave me a small smiling statue with a nameslip inside. It was very nice of him, and I will place the nameslip at the main hall of the last temple, for him.

Speaking of osettai, the monk at the temple #77 gave me a can of coffee and a small bag full of candies and cookies, after he explained me what the different parts of a temple stamp mean. I was feeling overwhelmed by the kindness of these people and felt like a simple thank you would never be enough.

From my Instagram story, showing the different gifts I got. You can follow me there as well by looking for the user “roveringlife”.

After that, I managed to reach temple #80 before it started to rain. 

Although I had plenty of food in my bag, I didn’t eat much until I reached my destination. I found a nice small place thay served udon noodles, which are particularly good in the Kagawa prefecture. I took a double portion of sanuki udon and was not disappointed.

Simple but effective: sanuki udon.

I’m detailing my plan to reach the last temple more and more. Every day for the last few days I’ve been studying the maps, height profiles, lodging facilities and so on.

It’s happening. I want to reach it in three days, or even better, two and a half days, so that I can spend some time at the temple #88 without feeling in a hurry. After that, I’ll take a train to the temple #1 to close the circle, and then see if I can reach Kyoto directly after that.

Funny coincidence today: I was thinking of adopting the number 88 as “lucky number” when I saw this milestone, indicating the distance, 88 Km, to the temple #88.

I feel like it’s almost time to checkmate this pilgrimage. I’m eager to walk even though it’s getting harder and harder to do so, because of both the weather turning worse and my legs being relentlessly abused, day after day.

All the pieces are slowly falling together, though, and I’m ready to make the last move.