Shikoku 88 Temples

A Simple Path
ONE PREFECTURE DOWN, 3 to go. After spending almost two weeks walking through the beautiful and strenuous mountains of Shikoku’s Tokushima Prefecture, the road before me leveled as I reached the ocean. With my legs a little stronger, my feet a lot soarer, I entered my second prefecture, Kochi. If I had to choose one word to describe my physical and mental state at this point in my journey, the word would be awareness, of my body, my mind, my surroundings. Awareness of creating exchanges with other people, and overall existing on a simpler level. 
Prior to walking, I had thought and hoped that as I embarked on this journey I would gain tremendous insight into the world, myself, my past and my future. While I had some revelations on these topics, many of my thoughts became consumed with simpler questions. Where will I sleep tonight? What will I eat? Will I reach my goal for 
the day? With these thoughts running through my mind I slowly started to become more conscious of details that I might have normally ignored. Grass along the shore would make a soft bed. The apple and protein drink I carried in my backpack would suffice for dinner. No matter how sore my back was, I could push myself a little more. The comfortable bed at home and the many choices I had to eat for meals suddenly seemed complicated. As each morning passed, the simple questions repeated themselves, motivating me to continue walking. 
Entering the Kochi prefecture holds many challenges for the walking Henro. Including the first long distance walk between temples. 75.4 km!  A three-day journey. At this point most of the other henros I had met in Tokushima had concluded their walking and were returning to their families, jobs and “real” life. I was aware that I was by myself. 
The road from temple 23 to 24 holds few Henro huts and fewer Lawsons.  The vending machines I had become accustomed to visiting many times in the late summer heat, had vanished. I walked along the breathtaking coastline of Kochi embracing the wind, sea mist and long stretch of road. Late one afternoon grey clouds started to roll in. A typhoon was heading my way bringing with it this Henros biggest fear... rain. I had hoped that somehow I might escape rain on my pilgrimage, but soon enough I added a new simple question to my list: How will I stay dry? 
Weather challenges, long 3-day walks, and fewer interactions with other henro, Kochi gave me many inspirations and awarenesses. 
When my friends ask me what I did to fill my time while walking I never hesitate to tell them. I became simple and I became aware. Thank you prefecture number 2. 


#132  Parkway Vol.25 No.2  April-June 2010









高知県に入ると、歩き遍路には多くの課題があります。まず最初に 次の霊場までの75.4 kmという長い距離を歩かなければならないこと! 3日かかるのです。徳島で会った遍路の人たちのほとんどは、この時点で歩くのを終えて、家族や仕事、そして「本当の」生活に戻っていきます。私だけなのは分かっていました。