This weekend was a great weekend on the Ohenro trail. On our very cool tour bus of the 88 temples we had a two-day trip through Ehime and to the south of Matsuyama City. As usual, the trail did not disappoint and it was a remarkable time.
As I mentioned in the last blog, there is something pretty awesome about the ohenro that travel by foot through the long days and weeks around Shikoku. They look so determined, so ready, and sometimes so exhausted too! It’s a rough way to go, and not one to be taken, or treated lightly!
But there is a certain luxury and “space” when traveling to these temples by car or bus. What I mean is that when you are not struggling with a heavy bag, cursing your blistered feet, or hustling through from destination to destination because you may not be able to reach your lodging in time, you miss things at each temple. This is a common lament I hear from the Ohenro who travel by foot. Their accomplishments to tough it out on the road are formidable, but they are given such little “space” to see and record, and to be in the moment due to the stress and strain of the travel itself.
I am hoping that this blog and site will serve as a place to capture what many people cannot share with you as they roam through the temples and down each long hard road. But what you may see here is only but a thin slice of what you will experience when you come yourself. So, do make your plan to come out this way to Shikoku. And do take what you need to travel safe. And do heed the good advice of the road travelers who know what to carry, what to wear, what to leave behind, and what pace you need to move. But, if possible, also do take some time at each place to breathe in the air a little longer, linger around the buildings and temple bells a little longer, and seek out the hidden corners of each site.
This last weekend marked the half-way mark on my own first Ohenro experience. We are on the “reverse course” year of the the Shikoku Pilgrimage and have traveled thus far from 88 to 44.
The first portion of this experience has been phenomenal. I look forward to continuing down the roads, and up the hills and mountains for the next installment. I do hope you will come along with me!