I woke up this morning without having yet decided where to sleep tonight. The minimum target was Ido-ji, the temple #17. From my calculations, however, Ido-ji was only 26,5 Km away. I needed more. I needed to show myself I could handle a 30+ Km walk again.
So I decided for a ryokan that was 4-5 Km further. I wasn’t only worried about the distance, but also about the total time it would take to arrive at my destination.
As a matter of fact, the owners of the lodging facilities along the henro usually require you to check-in by 5 PM. It’s a bit stricter than on the Camino, where you could show up pretty much at any time unless of course we’re talking about either weird or ungodly hours.
I’ve been walking slowly so far and my feet are holding up. Fingers crossed that it won’t change.
A few curious things happened today. In the woods, I saw a raccoon (or at least an animal that looked like one) staring at me before running away.
After that, I passed a ghost town inhabited only by human-like dolls. Seriously, they were everywhere and I didn’t see a single person there. Creepy as fuck. Two of them were even dressed up as pilgrims.
I literally this put this town behind me as soon as possible, and kept on walking towards the temple #13, Dainichi-ji. Throughout the day, many thoughts about “cutting” the way crossed my mind.
Maybe I could take a bus, maybe I could hitch-hike… maybe I can stop thinking about this bullshit and just walk.
Eventually, I didn’t yield to the temptation of an easy way to complete this stage.
What really changedy mind was the unexpected generosity of the people from Shikoku. One of them stopped her car to give me a small bag with 300 yen in it, the amount you need to get a stamp at any temple. It’s almost 3 Eur/USD (and now, also Sterling Pounds, GG Brexiters)!
At the temple #17, a group of elderly people gave me a ton of sweets and a bottle of soda. Another guy walked with me for a while when I was not sure about which way to go forward. And I got even more candies and drinks by other people. Seriously, it was overwhelming.
An unexpected act of kindess is incredibly powerful. Keep it in mind, folks.
These people encouraged me to go on regardless of the increasing pain I wad feeling under my feet. They helped me because they respect and keep on high regard the idea of a walking henro. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I felt that this kindness and trust were undeserved.
Finally, I arrived at the hotel shortly before 5 PM, just in time for my ofuro, the Japanese bath. It felt incredibly good. The room as well looks very nice at this ryokan.
After dinner, it’s time to relax and massage my feet a bit.
I have no idea about how to actually do it, but this is not something that happened rarely since I began my walk.
Although I feel very tired now, tomorrow I would like to keep up the good pace and go on a similar distance. The weather will be good. The sprits will be high. Let’s see for how long it will last.