DAY 3 德島/阿波 發心的道場 -3- Tokushima Prefecture
Mr Nakagawa and me woke up very early, for facing the challenge- Shosan-ji (#12 燒山寺), and also said good-bye to two walking pilgrims who we stayed at the same lodge last night, blessed they would be safe journey. Shosan-ji (#12) perhaps is the most difficult one in the whole pilgrimage. You need to overcome many mountains first, it is really rough even though Shosan-ji (#12) is not the highest one in 88 temples.
Sometimes as a cycling pilgrim is not so easy. We can't always follow the Shikoku Henro Guide, which is usually designed for walking pilgrims. Neither following the Henro Driving Guide, the vehicle way maybe is okay for driving , but sometimes will be too zigzag to ride.
Consequently, we didn't chose the popular access (Route 43) to Shosan-ji (#12) . It is also impossible to carry our bikes in the walking track to Shosan-ji (#12). In fact, I had a discussion with Mr Nakagawa about the route last night. As Mr Nakagawa's plan, we'd better leave our bikes in Akatukian (Zenkoyado) here, and climb the mountains to Shosan-ji (#12), next day we can follow the same way back Kamejima Town for taking bicycles.
Although I was not afraid of climbing mountains, but I didn't really like this idea based on spending too much time. Therefore, I posted my question to the facebook group "Ohenro San" and looked for a better suggestion, actually I got very helpful response soon! Thanks for every passion ohenro san/pilgrim!
We went to Shosan-ji (#12) though river valley, the access is more flat and easier, and the way is close to Dainichi-ji (#13 大日寺), not toward Shosan-ji (#12) directly instead. First we just went ahead the direction of Dainich-ji (#13), followed the Route 192 and turned the Route 20 in river valley (Akui River). Kept going then turned the Route 438 to Route 43. Finally, you will see there is one walking entrance of Shosan-ji (#12). Here is a obvious Shosanji Bus Stop (鍋岩おへんろ駅) in a secluded and beautiful village, I will suggest you leave your bike in this bus stop and climb the 5 KM track. (It costs approximately one hour one way.)
The path is worthy to go on foot, the reason is 1200 years ago, the Monk KUKAI (The Shikoku Pilgrimage Establisher) had ever walked in the same path, and I heard it still preserves the original look...? We went to the accommodation Cotton Field (At Kamiyama Town) on 10 a.m. for checking in and leaving our saddlebags first. Kept going until we arrived at the Shosanji Bus Stop on 11 a.m. . Suddenly I felt every KM I ridden in this river valley is so unbelievable!.
This walking track is uneasy for Mr Nakagawa, he took a rest few times. He told me that he forgot to do the training about walking the mountains, it was so rough to him. But it didn't matter to me, maybe climbing the mountain is my only strong point ~~ In this zigzag track to Shosan-ji (#12), I noticed that here are many Henro signals or slogans, like following KUKAI (南無大師遍照金剛), KUKAI stays with you (同行二人) or Life is Henro/Pilgrimage (人生即遍路), most of the slogans are written in Japanese Kanji (Kanji is pretty similar with Traditional Chinese word), so I can read easily. These slogans will encourage you to insist on the way, it also makes me feel interesting.
After about one and half hour, we arrived at the Shosan-ji (#12). When I think that I sweated a lot just for the stamp of Shosan-ji, really wish could stay here longer for taking more pictures~ The stamp office staff asked me how did I come Shosan-ji (#12) while I entered the office. They seemed do some visitor's records? I still replied him "By bicycle!" even though I did by walking in the last 5 KM.
And then I began to walk around the surrounding for a while, most of pilgrims came here by car usually, I did respect these walking pilgrims, I heard that it will cost 6 to 8 hours on foot from Fujii-dera (#11) to here, if for cyclist... around half day I calculated.
Here is one Udon Shop (restaurant) next to the stamp office. Henro is certainly a journey with humanity, the little bowl of Udon definitely made you so warm in this moment. This meal just ￥250 so how can you miss it?
When I was eating the Udon, here was one man (50 years-old around) who was sitting in front of me. He knew I am from Taiwan and tried to talk to me...... in Japanese~~ Anyway I was trying hard, through short conversation, I understood he was a cycling Henro San as well! He rode the vehicle way to Shosan-ji (#12), the Route 193→245→43, he was amazing one! Later, Mr Nakagawa also entered the Udon shop, they greeted first then they must have a wonderful conversation I guessed, because they bowed to each other so frequently~~
We left Shosan-ji (#12) in 2 p.m., arrived at Shosanji Bus Stop in 3 p.m. and rode our bikes back to our accommodation- Cotton Field as my happy ending today. I would be more confident on myself after finishing such a long day!