I think, I made a mistake. On Tuesday I bought a pair of new shoes. Nike – victory. My old shoes were just gone. Water was entering both shoes and even dirt started coming through one sole.
When I started this journey, I was very comfortable with my trekking shoes. A solid sole, protected with Gore Tex against water – breath active as the advertising says. They were well worn in and I didn’t worry at all about them. They accompanied me half around the world, to Germany, Dharamsala, Nassik, the Yukon and even New York. I really liked them, but nothing lasts forever.
The way down from Koyasan until Tosa finally wore them out. Water started entering through a whole in the sole and when I was in Susaki, the first little stone found it’s way inside. I was desperatly looking for a shop having shoes in my size, which is not so easy here. For trekking shoes I need 9.5, which is in Japan 27.5 or 28. Japanese usually have smaller feet. In Susaki I first went to a shop for working cloth. No shoes there, but a pair of new rainpants and some socks 🙂 in a shopping center at the other end of town, I found some. Finally! They had 3 pairs. Timberland, something like proudly made in the USA for 5man and a special offer for 9000¥. As I didn’t plan to buy new shoes and being desperate in the same time, I went for the Nikes, I even didn’t ask, if they have the 500bugs shoes in my size. As it turns out, they are all plastic, made in Vietnam and now my feet do get wet without having rainfall from the sky at all, blisters included. I’ll see, how long they will endure my big feet.
Same thing with the rain pants. Well, they nicely protect against rain from outside, they also produce extra water from inside. After some time I had a feeling like like I pissed in my pants – hilarious! They still protect well against mosquito bites though 😉
My lesson from that is double 🙂
First I missed to double check my gear before I started. Second, being desperate makes me inpatient. My disturbed mind and wet feet didn’t let me think clearly. Live, in this case walk goes on, shigata ga nai as Japanese say, it can’t be helped or better it is as it is right now and I keep on walking towards Kongōfukuji.


The first long leg

Writing is a way to get things off ones mind. This one here is sitting on my mind way too long 😉
About Shoes and Beans
One can find in any story about Shikoku, going up to Kakurinji (#20) and Tairyūji (#21) is tough. It’s like walking 2 stairways up and down, each more than 1 km long.
At Tairyūji I met a young monk from Hiroshima, who was limping. He told me that he has mamme, meaning beans, the Japanese word for blisters and he was not the first guy, I saw limping around.
They all were wearing sneakers and thin socks, because it’s hot here and thick socks and big shoes obviously make you more sweat. OK, I sweat more – without beans 😉
One can take it always the hard way. With gettas, traditional Japanese wooden shoes, with 5-finger shoes, which I considered or the traditional white Japanese Henro shoes with a separate big toe, which will make the skin between the big and the second toe really sore.
The safest way are trekking shoes and a bit thicker socks. The shoes should go up to the ankles to protect them. Socks need to be thick enough to absorb the sweat well. I got one little blister until now. While crossing a creek on my way to Wakayama, I stepped into the water and continued walking with a wet sock. The result was a blister on the 4th toe. My shoes are with Goretex, so as long as the water is not deeper than the shoes are high, the feet stay dry. That creek was deeper 😉
I just should have taken one more pairs of socks with me – they really get smelly after a short while 😀
Sunny Boy
The first time I escaped a rain storm was 2 days ago, after coming down from Jigenji. I just went into a house. There were these curtains in front of the door and I thought it’s some kind of local pub. It looked like that inside. A counter, glasses, a box with canned beer and a grandma behind. I was wrong. No she said, I’m not selling anything. Then she offered me cup noodles, beer and some kind of boiled egg with vegetables. Later came a mountain farmer in, who told me about a camping ground not far away. Grandma rejected any money, I only felt grateful. When I was on the way to the camping ground the guy I just met before came after me and gave me some 3kgs of fruits.
Yesterday I again escaped a rainstorm. Just when it really started pouring, like crazy, I was standing in front of a cheap looking beach-hotel some 2 km away from Yakuōji. I couldn’t resist and went in. Dinner, hot ofuro and a washing machine, just wonderful. How such normal things can make me feel blessed all the sudden!
Yakuōji, btw is a wonderful place with a nice atmosphere, sea-view and across there’s a castle.
A bit too late I arrived today at Saba Daishi. I entered some area with shoes, searching for someone to “stamp me off”. On the first view, this was not a good idea. One monk saw me and got a bit angry, take your shoes off, damme, he shouted. On the end I was invited for the evening ceremony and I stay here now in a little hut for henros. There’s a special story about Kūkai and a fisherman on the horse. One can see a statue of Kūkai holding a saba, a macrele, in his hand.
And of course, the weather forecast for today was wrong. Instead of rain, sunshine and hot – a sweaty day and nice ofuro on the end 🙂
How life can be beautiful!

20120602-082934.jpgSaba Daishi