Pilgrims along the o-henro traditionally do not tap their wooden kongōzue (walking staff) when they cross a bridge. This happens because they have the belief that Kōbō Daishi might be sleeping under a bridge, and it would be incredibly rude to wake him up.
I am following this tradition because, even though I’m not praying at the temples yet, I make an effort to respect the buddhist customs anyways.
Sometimes I’m too much into my own thoughts, while walking, and don’t stop tapping the staff when I’m over a bridge. And then I think: “Come on, he can’t be sleeping here, there’s no good ground to lay down.”
Today I reached the bridge that generated this tradition, as it is commonly believed that Kūkai (original name of Kōbō Daishi) slept there, centuries ago.
A small temple was erected there in his honour, though it’s not somehow part of the “crazy 88”.
After that, the road was a bit dull, along a big commercial district that didn’t seem to end, ever.
I reached the town of Uchiko fairly easily, and from there it was smooth sailing to today’s minshuku. The day was sunny, but still cold and windy. At the end I chose to continue with the “winter” gear as I’d rather sweat more than freeze to death.
Tomorrow is going to be a tough day, with a long and steady climb to the next temple, the number 44. From that point onwards it will be another 44 temples before the end of the pilgrimage. I’m almost half-way done collecting stamps!
Now I’m at a point where, if I look back, everything seems to have happened very fast. If I look forward, however, the road is still long and it seems like it will never end.
Both are just feelings, however, and can be kept at bay by having a resolute, sharp and focused mindset. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to make something like this pilgrimage happen without going crazy.