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 😀


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 🙂

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.
20120618-224115.jpgThreaded Blisters
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 🙂



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.



After 2 beautiful days on the coast of Shikoku…20120608-204555.jpg
….tsuyo, the rainy season started today! Now I’m sitting in a little henro-hut and it’s getting dark quickly. Raindrops are dripping on the plastic roofs, frogs and cicadas are singing their songs. Sometimes are car is passing by interrupting their chorus.
Around are my cloth, hanged of the boards of the hut. Hopefully they get at least a little boy dry until tomorrow morning. At least the stuff in my backpack is dry 🙂 meanwhile I pack everything into separate plastic bags. In Japan you get everything packed, so having enough bags is not an issue. Wrapping Culture by Joy Hendrik is a known book about this Japanese phenomena. While making a present in Japan, the wrapping is quite often more important than the content.
20120615-231107.jpgFruits are growing into their wrapping
This also makes brand wear – stuff from a well known maker, like Gucchi, so popular here. The name is just the wrapping, the quality is not so important.
Now I will wrap myself in my sleeping bag and dream my cloth dry 😉


On the coast

Meanwhile I’m just 2 km away from Yakusōji, which is temple 23, on the coast. The route after will be pretty long, more than 75 km.
What’s it about?
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot, what to do with this blog here. Giving another more or less boring travel or better pilgrimage description, which anyway no one will read, besides some close friends and family? In the later case it would be probably better to write in German 😉
Some days ago I received an email from a dear friend and it hit me like a hammer. The question was, what’s the difference to pilgrimages in Bavaria and over there in Shikoku? Basically there is no difference, so why am I doing this?
I decided to write this blog on one side about this question – what do I want to get out of this? Where do I want to go from here. Obviously this will become some kind of personal growth story – hopefully 🙂
On the other side I will talk a bit about what happened and what I experience on this journey. Finding the answer to the question above is not only a dynamic process, it is directly connected with the experiences we make.

A Tip
After being at some of the temples, I think a good preparation for such a journey would be to find oneself a very long stairway and run it up and down for an hour. First without then with luggage on the back. Add a little more than you plan 😉
Just before going up to temple 20 I received some 3kgs of fruits as osettai. The weight diminished slowly. But the tough thing is to first walk up so many stairs with that package on ones back.

Big brother is watching you on [nearly] every gate