December 8: Stop 17 -9
We visited nine temples as they are closely located. Today we had the biggest surprise of the whole trip with rain turning into heavy snow on the way to Stop 12 Shosanji! Snow is not common in Shikoku and it is so wonderful to see temples in snow.
Stop 17 Idoji 第17站 井戶寺 (Main image: Yakushi Nyorai藥師佛)
The day began well with a clear blue sky. It was however very windy and freezing. This temple located in a residential area is famous for its well found by Kobo Daishi.
Stop 16 Kanonji第16站 觀音寺 (Main image: Kannon觀音)
Stop 15 Kokubunji第15站國分寺(Main image: Yakushi Nyorai藥師佛)
Stop 14 Jorakuji 第14站 常樂寺 (Main image: Miroku Bosatu弥勒菩薩)
Stop 13 Dainichiji第13站 大日寺 (Main image: Juichimen Kanon觀音)
Stop 12 Shosanji第12站 燒山寺 (Main image: Kokuzo Bosatsu 虛藏菩薩)
I find this the most memorable stop of the whole trip for two reasons. First, the winding road to this temple at the top of a mountain is unearthly beautiful and serene. Second, rain turned into heavy snow when we made our final ascent in a minibus to the mountain top. We behaved like young kids and said aloud “Wow, wow, wow” whenever our minibus made a sharp turn with more snow falling on the windscreen. I had an umbrella and was able to keep my camera dry. The atmosphere is miraculously and indescribably beautiful.
Stop 11 Fujiidera第11站 藤井寺(Main image: Yakushi Nyorai藥師佛)
Stop 10 Kirihataji第10站 切幡寺(Main image: Senju Kannon千手觀音)
Stop 9 Horinji 第9站 法輪寺 (Main image: Shaka Nyorai釈迦如来)
After an extraordinary day with our first snow in Japan, I finished off the day with a visit to a Japanese hot spring with three other members. The complex is huge and modern with at least ten pools in the female section. As it was a Saturday, the pools were fairly crowded. Another interesting experience!
December 9: Stop 8-1, Tokushima – Wakayama –Mt Koya
This was our last day in the Tokushima Prefecture. We visited eight temples before taking the ferry to Wakayama. Once again, we were lucky to have fine weather, blue sky and beautiful foliage.
Stop 8 Kumadaniji第8站 熊谷寺 (Main image: Senju Kannon千手觀音)
Stop 7 Jurakuji第7站 十樂寺 (Main image: Amida Nyorai阿彌陀如来)
Stop 6 Anrakuji第6站 安樂寺 (Main image: Yakushi Nyorai藥師佛)
Stop 5 Jizoji第5站 地藏寺 (Main image: Enmei Jizo Bosatu地蔵菩薩)
Stop 4 Dainichiji第4站 大日寺 (大日如來) (Main image: Shaka Nyorai釈迦如来)
Stop 3 Konsenji第3站 金泉寺 (Main image: Shaka Nyorai釈迦如来)
Stop 2 Gokurakuji第2站 極樂寺 (Main image: Amida Nyorai阿彌陀如来)
Stop 1 Ryozenji第1站 靈山寺 (Main image: Shaka Nyorai釈迦如来)
Ryozenji the first stop of the pilgrimage route is the highlight of the last day. The temple is majestic with a traditional Japanese setting with a pagoda, a bridge, a pond with lots of gold fish surrounded by maple and pine trees. The place was full of pilgrims and visitors. We also had a group photo taken. It’s atmospheric but I found it too crowded and busy.
After an early lunch at 11am, we visited the last six temples. The ferry departed at 4:30pm and I had my third big vegetarian meal of the day on the ferry. We landed in Wakayama around 6:30pm.
As soon as we reached Mt. Koya around 8pm, we found ourselves in a beautiful white world where the temperature dropped to -5°C. We stayed in a monastery無量光院and had a delicious and elegantly presented dinner. I even had a hot shower. The room is cozy and comfortable with heater. Somehow, I could not sleep.