I had slept pretty well at Meitokuji and as usual up early thinking about the day ahead. It still wasn't 6 o'clock but I could hear the monk drumming and chanting so I got up and went outside to watch. He was doing the same thing that he had been doing almost 4 years ago when I first stopped at Meitokuji and he would probably be doing the same thing if I came back in 10 years time. This time the glass panelled doors to the main hall were closed so I couldn't hear his guttural chanting but I could clearly hear the drumming.
Das and I were ready to make a move but before we did, we presented the monk with our osamefuda. I gave him another photograph, a photograph Mt. Fuji along with the 1000 yen osettai I had received from the monk at Kokubunji (#15). The 1000 yen was a small price to pay and more than that it was osettai from me which was osettai from someone else. Maybe kindness like that has a way of doing the rounds and creating a continuous positive stream of good karma.
The weather yesterday from early evening and for most of the night had been extremely wet but it was a beautiful start to the morning. The sun was still behind a narrow bank of cloud just above the horizon but the sky was a lovely blue and it looked like it would definitely be a good day ahead. I detoured slightly form the ohenro marked trail and headed towards Route 55 and the sea. The sea was nice and calm and there was very little traffic on Route 55 as I started to walk along the road next to the sea. Thanks to Das I had extra food and that gave me the energy I needed to keep up a good steady pace. Last time I had walked this way the weather had been overcast and there had been a steady stream of traffic, especially heavy trucks for most of the day. This time it couldn't have been more different, the weather was beautiful and for whatever reason, there seemed to be very little traffic.
I was walking ahead of Das but we met up a few times whenever I stopped for a break. The stops were not always to take a rest, sometimes I stopped to enjoy the beautiful sea views or just to enjoy the moment. The first stop was a rest hut where I stopped for about 10 minutes to adjust my pack and chomp on a few mouthfuls of the very tasty granola cereal Das had given me. The next stop was the next rest hut along the coast and I stopped for almost 25 minutes. The final rest stop was a small supermarket where I spent nearly an hour. I got myself some rice balls, fried chicken and some sweet snacks. When Das turned up I got us some ice cream and with the ice cream done I decided to press on.
Another 3 hours of uninterrupted walking brought me to Deep Sea World with it's outdoor foot spa. I spent about 15 minutes soaking my feet in the warm water and it felt incredibly good. From the foot spa I could see the tall white statue of the young Kukai. I would have spent longer but I was thinking of pressing on after finishing at Hotsumisakiji (#24) so after my quick 15 minutes I went in to thank the staff and give them my osamefuda and a photograph. I also enquired about how long they would remain open because I was also thinking of returning after praying at Hotsumisakiji (#24) to have a soak in the onsen proper.
After leaving Deep Sea World I soon arrived at the young Kukai statue and headed up the stairs. I thought it was a regular temple but an old woman called out after me and told me I needed to pay an admission fee of 300 yen. I paid and went up. Close up the young Kukai statue was absolutely huge. Behind it was a reclining gold Buddha and under the standing Kukai statue a special room lined with small Kukai statues. I didn't stay too long and the next port of call was the cave where Kukai meditated and where he got the inspiration to change his name to Kukai, meaning sky and sea.
There was no one inside the cave when I arrived so I went in and prayed a simple prayer of thanks. I gave a photograph to the lady in the stamp office and told her it was a thank you for my last visit. I had stopped here on that first occasion because a Japanese pilgrim had told me about the significance of the cave. I had not planned on getting a stamp this time so I walked away after giving the woman the photograph but almost immediately returned and got the stamp. My stamp book I thought would probably not be complete without it. The lady in the stamp office also ended up giving me a small good luck charm with Kukai and his sacred mantra on it.
The next stop was Hotsumisakiji (#24) and I continued around the cape until I got to the start of the mountain trail to the top. I could vaguely recall that it had been hard going last time. The start of the trail was not so bad because it was all steps, just a seemingly endless number of them. It got a bit rockier after the steps but about 10 minutes or so later I was at the main gate. There was a lovely peaceful atmosphere about the place and I went through my prayer rituals without any distraction. I got my book stamped and gave the man in the stamp office a photograph and then returned outside to take some photographs and to look for a particular rock I had read about. What makes the rock interesting is that it makes a hollow metallic sound when you strike it with a smaller rock. When I struck the rock there was a definite hollow metallic sound rather than the sharp crack you would otherwise expect. With everything done I headed back out to the main gate and then rejoined the trail back down.
The plan regarding where to stay was still very vague but I was thinking about sleeping out again. On the way up to Hotsumisakiji (#24) I had passed a good sized hut large enough for 2 possibly 3 tents. My plan as I headed back down was to return to Deep Sea World and get myself cleaned up and then head towards Shinshoji (#25) and hopefully find somewhere to stay. As I headed down I bumped into Das and I told her about my plan and she seemed keen on the idea and said she would come to Deep Sea World after finishing at the temple.
It took almost 20 minutes to walk back to the Deep Sea World. The staff explained what I should and should not do. I got myself cleaned up and then enjoyed a good soak in each of the two baths. There was an indoor hot bath and an outdoor hot bath. The outdoor one was filled with heated water taken from deep under the sea. I'm not sure what it was but the water taken from deep under the sea seemed to be denser or something about it was definitely different. After switching a couple of times between the indoor and outdoor hot baths I headed back inside and got myself dressed. .
I checked my messages and found one from Das telling me she was too tired and would try to find a minshuku instead. It was still light but it would get dark soon so I slowly started heading back around the cape with a plan to get closer to Shinshoji (#25). I was comforted by the fact that it was relatively warm compared to other evenings and I remembered Takuya finding somewhere to sleep outside during the first pilgrimage. As I walked past the start of the mountain trail I bumped into Das again and she told me that she had found a cheap place just around the corner. For 3000 yen with breakfast included she had been put in a small spill over room and she told me that there was enough space and extra bedding for someone to sleep on the floor. She suggested I enquire about sharing. Das was on her way to a local restaurant to eat so I continued the short distance round and went into the minshuku and said I had just met my friend and would it be possible to stay. I didn't need any food and sleeping on the floor was fine. The lady didn't seem to mind and said I cojudl stay for just 2000 which was great. I thought it would be only fair to split the difference with Das when she got back.
The woman showed me to the room and it was perfectly fine. Four walls and a ceiling was all I really needed on this journey and there was clean bedding and a washing machine too. My main priority was to wash all my clothes, so the first thing I did was put all my things into the washing machine. The minshuku had wifi so I managed to check and catch up with messages for the first time in several days.
It really was a lucky break to stay in such a cheap place right on the cape. The last time I was in a room not much bigger I was sharing with two snoring men and the cost was 7600 yen. Although having said that the food and the company was great and given the tough walk that day and the raging storm outside it was actually a small price to pay and a price well worth paying for the amazingly tasty food we all ate that evening.
It had been another interesting day. I spent the early part of the day just humming tunes to myself and enjoying the sea views. As the day had warmed up and the pack started to take it's toll on my shoulders my thoughts alternated between upbeat and not so upbeat. Past unhappy memories seemed to spring up but maybe part of the practice was to beat them back down and replace them with good thoughts. Rather than just walking along and not being aware of how I was feeling, this time it definitely felt much more of an inner journey of self reflection. I felt really tired for the first time since starting the pilgrimage and try as I could to type up my notes, I was struggling to keep my eyes from closing. I was not going to be typing up too many notes this evening and having decided to abandon the task to tomorrow, I was falling into a deep sleep almost as soon as my head touched the pillow.