After is Before

I’m back, back in Koyasan, back home. It’s been a long time, more than tow month I was on th road, walking from one place to the next one, uphill, downhill, on roads, through woods, along rivers and creeks. It has been a time for being with myself out in constant changing environment and now I’m back.

The last days

It was quite easy, no big climbs anymore, no steep ways downhill, just walking. After I arrived at Ōkuboji (#88), I decided to close the circel and go back to Ryōzenji (#1) to tell thank you to my friend Kinoshita San. She was very busy, so I decided to take a day off, hoping she’ll have more time the next day, but she didn’t. Anyway there wee also 3 friends there from Naruto and one of them has done Tokudo at Muryokoin 2 years ago. Together we visited the Namaste Guesthouse in Naruto and I stayed at thier place over night. I also used the opportunity to wash my cloth the last time during this journey.

The next day it became really hot and I walked to Tokushima to catch the ferry for Wakayama. I had to wait a while, time for eating and resting a bit. The ferry takes roughly 2 hours to Wakayama, so I still had a bit time to walk a little more. The heat continued the next 2 days, actually it’s still hot even up here in Koyasan. The last evening before goign up to koyasan, I went to a local place to eat something. First the guy told me he has only beer, nothing to eat, on the end I got Kani (Crab) and Sushis. I had a nice talk with people there, on the end I additional received 1000¥, the last osettai during this journey.

All the sudden, surprinsgly I was standing in front of Diamon, the big gate. I expected a lot of stairs – I remembered it wrong. It was easy the last part. Of course I was sweating, everything was wet 😀

Yesterday I still went to Okunoin, today back at he temple for morning ceremony and coffee later.

What’s next?

Well good question. I plan to write a book about this journey, but also need to make some money now. So first I’ll start to clean out the place here a bit and get reorganized. Still a lot of things, which were cooking up are not yet in place and still need some more reflection.

All in all it was worth the effort, it changed my view a bit I think, the way I think about different things and hopefully also the way how I deal with people.

I received so much friendliness during this journey, uncondtionally, just like that and I’m most greatful for that. I also was often thinking on my teachers, on Habukawa and Hashimoto Sensei specially and I want to say I big thank you to everyone, who directly or indirectly supported hepled me to make this possible.


Murphies Law

Walking, weather report says, partly cloudy. It starts dripping, I put the rainsheet over the backpack, continue to walk. Dripping slowly becomes rain. I think it’ll stop soon. Passing by a coffee bar, which is the only place to sit in around. It has its day off. Slowly rain starts streaming, wind comes up, shoes get wet, finally a shrine along the road with a small place under a roof. I put my rain gear on. Keeping on walking. Rain decreases, stops. 15 minutes walking, clouds move, sunshine, still having wet shoes 😀


Anger, Attachments and Freedom

Well, well, the journey slowly comes to it’s end. I’m now on the way Nagaoji (#87), which is just 5km from the Okunomiyaki-place, where I’m sitting right now. Later today I will walk towards Ōtakiji (b20), which is the last of the bengai-fudasho or bekakku temples. Together with the 88 temples it makes 108 temples, as many as mala has beats. Most people think on 108 attachments, in the context of Buddhism each beat presenting one.
What made starting thinking more deeper on attachments or bonno as they are called in Japanese, was a short event at Senyūji (#58), where I participated in the morning ceremony. As usual I was sitting in halflotus and on the end the priest told me, there is no halflotus in Shingon, only Zeza, meaning kneeling and sitting on ones heals, because this is Japanese culture. After that he was talking about attachments and of course being unaware how much he – like other people here as well – is attached to the idea, Shingon is a Japanese cultural property, what it is of course not. I didn’t reacted of course, but when I was going down the mountain, this event occupied my mind. In a glimpse of moment I got even angry about that guys ignorance. Has he ever seen Kūkai or any of the Buddha statues sitting in Zeza? Didn’t dharma teaching came from India to China and then to Japan? This lead me to thinking more about my own attachments and expectations. How can I expect that people understand emptiness, when they recite the heartsutra in Kanbun, a language, normal people don’t understand. Kanbun is actually old Chinese with Japanese pronunciation. It was used long time ago by educated people who able to read and write.
… I need to move on and will continue writing later, as I haven’t made my point yet. Please bear with me and stay tuned 😉
Thanks for your patience 🙂 I’m now just a few km away from Ōkuboji, the last temple. From there I plan to go back to Ryōzenji to close the circle.
Anyway to continue from before. What really pissed me off wad, when I was thrown off the temple ground at Kokubunji (#80) after receiving my stamp, before I could recite my mantras. They guy said that’s Japanese culture, not a bad thing with a grin in his face, saying the opposite.
After I cooled down, a voice spoke inside to me, saying do your thing in front of the gate, that’s fine. This guy will receive his fruits at one point, but it’s not your business. So I made a little incense holder, did my recitations and moved on.
What triggered anger, were my own expectations, that people do have some understanding, but they just cling as much to their social framework as I stick to my expectations. These expectations are attachment. The only thing I can change here is dropping this idea, that people at least partly share my understanding. They just don’t and they will never do. Dropping this idea means dropping this kind of attachment, opening the door to freedom and experiencing the unexpected.
And exactly that happened to me yesterday. I went up to Ōtakiji. When I got my stamp, the son of the Jushoku insisted in speaking English and told me the best option is to go and stay in a Onsen Hotel, because there’s no place with food the other way. I was thinking all the time, I’ve seen this face before… on the end, when I was about leaving, I asked him and in fact, he was studying with Sanja and we met a couple of times some 4 or 5 years ago in Kōyasan. He told me then, they will now go to that onsen and I should come with them. As I wanted to go by foot everything, I had to reject this friendly offer. The compromise was, they took my backpack with them. So these 12km downhill just took me 2 hours only. After enjoying onsen, nice food and an air-conditioned room without mosquitos, I wanted to pay my bill this morning and the guy charged me only the beer I drank the evening before. I was so surprised! Everything else was already taken care of and my heart was filled with gratefulness about this unexpected ossetai, making me again clear what kind of freedom I receive by not expecting anything 🙂


Double Temple

Today I went to Jinnein (#68) and Kanonji (#69), which are 2 temples in one. During the Meiji period Jinnein was moved to the same place as Kanonji. During the Meiji period the state tried to destroy Buddhism in Japan, because it was strongly connected to the traditional clans and Samurais, who didn’t like the modernization of Japan, which was actually enforced by the US. Anyway, that’s all history and I often can perceive it’s traces it left behind.
The let’s say practical thing was I got stamps for two temples from one office.
What amazed me was the site, a little hill hosting two temples in the back at one site. These temples are so different! Jinnein has a very interesting Hondõ, a successful mixture of modern architecture mixed with traditional elements. The entrance reminds to the museum of modern art in New York, followed by a building like a traditional temple. The Hondō of Kanonji on the other side is a red painted old style building.
Of course there’s a big Shrine in front of the hill and behind a big park with a huge sand coin. They say if you look the coin you’ll be healthy and wealthy.
Well, I did 🙂

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Now I’m sitting in a pub writing this blog and still want to walk to Motoyamaji (#70), where is a park next to it. Parks usually have toilets and often a roof. Weather should be fine tonight anyway 🙂

A short update

The WP-app just crashed, so I try again to give you a short update.
I’m on the way to Unpenji (#66), sitting in a little hut, where I built up my tent. Straight floor and a roof on top in case it starts raining. The last days I had really nice weather, walking became a kind of routine. I’m even not disturbed by busy roads anymore. One step follows the next, breath goes in and out, sweat runs down the back.
Sometimes I’m nearly overwhelmed by the friendliness of people. Some days ago, a woman stopped her car in the middle of the street, jumped out, gave me 200¥, said “osettai desu”, jumped back into her car and disappeared before I could say thank you. Later 2 days ago, I met an old man on the street. He was on his walk for health, as he said. We were walking some time together until Enmeiji (b12). After visiting the temple, he invited me for lunch and coffee. When I left him on the station, where he took the train back home, he gave me 1000¥, “for dinner” he said. On the same day in the evening, while I was buying dinner, another guy gave me 2 beer and some more food.
I still didn’t do takuhatsu, begging as monks were doing in the old times. It feels embarrassing for me and I guess I have to learn more humbleness to overcome this.
Today I was at Hashikuraji. I renamed the temple to “Kaidanji”, temple of stairs. Until one reaches the gate, it’s already quite a sweaty way uphill. Beyond the gate comes a nice wide way, leading to a red bridge, followed by 777 steps until the office and the Fudodō, 27 more steps to the temple bell and another long stairway until the Hondō and the Daishidõ. It’s worth the effort though. It’s a wonderful and peaceful place. The monk, who put the stamps surprised me on the end by asking me, if I know Kurt. We were talking for some time and we figured out that we had the same Shidokegyo teacher. So nice!
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Bumped into a wall

Again… So here it goes:
Yesterday I first came to a “paradise shop”. They had everything there, shoes, rain protection and more, so I got a new mat for under the sleeping bag. Smaller, softer and less weight 🙂
In the evening I wanted to walk until Kama-Daishi, which is on the way to Enmeiji (#54). When I came to a convenient store, 1km away, I was asking the guy there, if one can pitch up a tent there, the answer was “no way”. So I stayed near the convini in a little park. No roof, no water and no toilet there. Anyway, weather was nice, the moon shining, I went to sleep. What a surprise, when I woke up, it was not only raining, it came down in torrents. The weather forecast said something different and waiting didn’t help, so now the tent isn’t dry anymore.
After a short walk I arrived at Kama-Daishi and what a surprise! Roof, water toilet, even a plug for charging, everything there. The place under the roof would have been big enough for the tent and Daishi Sama could have guarded my dreams 🙂
This was not the first time, I believed others more then my intuition. Every time I pay a price for not listening. I need to learn to listen better to my inner self. Will I learn this lesson finally?


What a day

Yesterday I came down from Shusekiji and it was a long way. I missed the Henro way two times, on the way up and on the way down I also took a wrong turn, which made me walk together 8km more mainly on the road instead through the woods. This was actually not that bad, because my Biofitters-workaround-shoes lost their grip and I slid at least three times. I was lucky, that I didn’t fall 🙂
Around 6 I arrived at Toyogahashi. Daishi Sama was sleeping there once under the bridge and today there’s a nice little temple next to the busy street. I found the Jushoku, who didn’t train any secret martial art stuff, but his golf technique in the garden behind the temple. I knew that there was a Zenkonyado. He showed me the room and disappeared immediately.
On the other side of the street there’s a big supermarket. I went there to look for shoes, of course there was nothing suitable for big foot. The girl apologized and send me to some other place. What a surprise! Shoe-Paradise is the name of the place. Only the size of my feet narrowed the choice down to 2 or 3 different pairs. Finally I decided for a pair of red Columbia boots. I went happily back to my room just to discover that I a got a blister from my slippers. After putting on the new shoes I searched and found a small local place with some nice food and a cool beer.
Next morning, rain. I packed my old shoes as backup and went again under the bridge just to meet a funny group there feeding pidgins and carps. I walked to the next village, music in my head and on my lips. I spent some time there to make from the rain trousers some kind of buckets. I was sitting next to a place where mochi was made in traditional way and again the funny group appeared, where are you from, can we make a photo.. After they were gone I receive a wonderful apple pie with a cup of good hot coffee.
I walked to the next little city, my rain-leggings were not really staying on the place where I wanted them to be. Luckily and surprisingly there was a sports-shop on the way and I got some rubber straps there, which were working well. Happy about the solution I came to an udon restaurant and someone gave money to the owner for my food, which was much more than I ate. On the end I left the restaurant with 2000¥ more in my pocket instead of spending. Not to mention that I later received another coffee while I put my rain gear back on. Now I’m again sitting in a Zenkonyado, rain outside mixed with frog music, no new blisters, dry feet – I dropped the old shoes in the sports-shop already 😉
Mysteriously wonderful life.


Mima, mich no eki

Today I’m at Mima michi-no-eki, a street station. A convenient place to stay over night. There are toilets, vending machines and a roof, which allows me to dry my tent 🙂
It’s still early. I arrived at Ryukōji around 4:30pm, too late to proceed to Butsumokuji, although it’s only 4km – temples are closing their offices at 5pm. At Ryukōji I was told, Mima is the best place to stay.
It’s especially early for me, as I usually don’t fall asleep before 12 or even later. During the day while walking, my head just perceives the environment. I love these moments when the sun kisses the trees in the forest and her beans are reflecting on the wet leaves on the ground. Winds and birds, often a creek are the only noises around. It’s like perfect peace, harmony. When clouds are slowly moving through twilight, like fog, branches on the floor transform to snakes, moved by water, the cool wind gives the impression of other spheres being around. Trees tapping my hat or shoulder, indifferent noises from far away, crack, crack … a Tanuki crosses my way and tries to get away as quickly as possible from the big strange monster with a stick and a tingling bell on it.
In the evening, after I found a place to stay, made myself comfortable, ate dinner, then slowly slowly the head starts filling with thoughts. I’m not tired, my feet are, the rest is not. The present moment I’m happy to experience while walking off the roads are washed away, by thoughts on history, politics, personal experiences in the past. As if I could change a little piece of that what can’t be changed. As I could be changed to whatever won’t happen. Things I’d still like to do or what I could all do after coming back from this journey. The ground is too hard, but in fact the mind is too busy. As soon as I let go any practice the monkey goes crazy. Things are as they are, mosquitos won’t disappear, also I wish to, cars and trucks will still pass by on the streets and eventually wash my face with water, just felt down from the sky. Today I read, Bob Marley said once, some people feel the rain, some people just get wet. That sounds to me like the sparkles of harmony compete with the craziness of the monkey, which brings me to the question, will I be able to ride the bull on the end?



Extending articles doesn’t seam to be the proper way, so here goes the stuff about my blisters 😀
Dealing with blisters
As you probably all know, my new shoes are really crappy and produced in a short time an amazing amount of blisters. I had the impression the shoes became tighter during walking in the rain, instead I guess my big feet became even bigger 😀
There are special band aids for blisters and they come in different forms and sizes. One type sticks so tight, if ripped off, it will just open the blister adding additional pain. Some are like little bolsters around the blister, which requires the blister to be in a “standard” form and size. The body just doesn’t always behaves the standard way 😉
Another good strategy is to wear 2 pair of socks, a thicker pair over a thinner pair. Use this from the beginning, as it will minimize the risk of developing these unpleasant beans on your feet. This even helps, when you already got some of these beasts. In combination with worn in breath active trekking shoes, you probably even won’t be bothered with this 🙂
Until now I was tapping the blisters and massaging them with sanjeev-oil. To get special band aids or other stuff, is nearly impossible on the country side.
After reading that putting a needle with a thread through the blister and leaving the thread inside over night should help, I tried that last night.
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The picture shows the little toe of the right foot. There are at least 4 more threads in my feet. So a shoe-shop is again on my radar.
The success of the “thread-method” didn’t really convince me. I found some tincture in a pharmacy call スピール – supiru. In the same time I try to widen these shoes with a hairdryer and newspaper.
Hopefully I can then walk with less pain from tomorrow. Today I’m anyway paused by a typhoon, which gives me the opportunity to do these things 🙂


Three days ago, it was raining and I tried to relax my tortured feet, I met a younger guy in front of a convini. He’s Japanese and was pulling his backpack on a trolly, which looked somehow funny. We just exchanged a couple of words, as he wanted to move on. An hour later I caught up with him and we started walking together for 2 days.
He was talking a lot in Japanese and I often didn’t understand him, because the rain was dropping on my hat and I had the poncho over my ears and my Japanese skill aren’t really that good as well. So he concluded on the end, I have bad ears 😀
Later I ask him how he deals with his stuff on mountain paths. He told me that he carries everything. Later I figured out that he avoids those paths marked as あしずり footpath.
The first night we spent in minchoku, a kind of boardinghouse with dinner and breakfast, which also serves as the local pub. This was nice, we were both wet down to the bones. Later I registered that he was irritated that I ordered beer for dinner. He felt he also had to drink. Later an elderly guy came in and I really had a good talk with him. It sometimes takes me a while to understand, but that’s part of such a conversation. Anyway the guy ordered more beer and my companion also drunk. I still had the feeling he didn’t like it, but hey, no one told him to drink! He’s old enough and should be able to decide, right? He was not able to break out of his Japanese Sempai-Sensei mind-border.
The next day we continued walking and at one point I extended a break and let him continue alone. I was irritated by his talking. It dispersed my concentration and it also got harder for me and of corse my shoes, or better to say the blisters they caused, bothered me more than walking alone. This might be surprising for some of you. When I walk alone, I often repeat mantras. This makes my mind clear and calm, chit chatting has the opposite effect and all in a while the tiredness of my sweated feet pops up in the mind and tells me to sit down.
Last night we spent in a hut for Henros after visiting Kongōfukuji.
In the evening he was bitching about other people leaving their trash there, because the woman, who cared for the place passed away some time ago. As if people would know. Then he tried in a very subtle way to give me orders and that we should make a free day. This was the point I realized I didn’t put up borders strong and clear enough and that I have to continue alone. This morning I packed and went towards Enkõji, which I hopefully reach before the Taifun. Tomorrow I’ll first pass Shinnen-An, a hut which was constructed by the legendary monk Shinnen on his way back from Enkōji. Yūben Shinnen wrote the first guide for the Shikoku pilgramidge, which was recently translated to English. I’m excited to see that place 🙂