DAY 15 愛媛/伊予 菩提的道場 -3- Ehime Prefecture
Date：April 26 (Monday)
Lodge：Minshuku Ichirigi (Kuma-Kogen Town，￥4000→￥3500, no meal)
"Kogen" is mean highlands in Japanese, it would become a rough challenge to us today. Kuma Kogen (久萬高原) , there are the 44th and 45th temple. We left our lodging at 6 o'clock, the wind was so frozen in mountains, I just kept cycling for making my body warmer. Followed Route 380 we saw a big Road House (Oda Minchi-no-eki) , the vital functions in Oda (小田) was obviously better than Tsukiawase (突合) where we stayed last night.
Before we arrived at the entrance of Mayumi Tunnel (真弓隧道) , Mr Nakagawa and me had to overcome the Mayumi-Toge Pass (真弓峠), this another unforgettable story again. If you were walking pilgrim you can walk in a shortcut path, so you didn't need to worry. But for us, cycling pilgrims, not too many choices. How zigzag the road is, how hard the road we rode! We met a henro tour bus midway, result in we had to give way in the very narrow place. When I stood the border of way, closed to many old houses, mostly were empty cause the residents were gone?!
Gradually, Mayumi Tunnel (真弓隧道) appeared in front of me. This Tunnel was the connection with Uchiko Town (內子町) and Kuma-Kogen Town (久萬高原町). We planed have a rest in a little Henro Hut nearby the Tunnel. Here was an occidental pilgrim seemed sit here for a while already. "Haha! You did good job!" He applauded for us.
I was surprised that he was from Australia! And his hometown was Darwin! I ever stayed Darwin for three months in 2014! Then we talked about the reason why we wanna do Shikoku Ohenro? He said he was eager to do Ohenro for long time! He bought flight ticket and came Ohenro as soon as he retired this March! He admired the walking path was amazing from Oda to here, so pity I choose the vehicle way (I was amazing tired~)
He would stop his pilgrimage in 30 April because the weather was hotter and hotter. And restarted in September, continued his rest journey. He didn't have too plans in these days, all depended on how far he could do.
We only found this Australian pilgrim so far. Therefore, I guessed mostly foreign pilgrims would prefer walking in the main road. Cause they don't understand Kanji? Some shortcut information which was written in Kanji would made them more confused!? That might be easier just followed the guidebook or signs in main road.
lately, we reached the town center of Kuma-Kogen. Here held unknown activity on our way to Daiho-ji (#44 大寶寺), the staff asked us to walk instead of cycling. That was good idea because I also wanna have a look this activity.
There are many giant trees which are surrounding the whole temple in Daiho-ji (#44 大寶寺). And a pair of huge straw sandals at the both side of Main Gate, I heard the sandals made in 10000 years ago?! I was very happy to see the temple number 44, it meant that I already done the half of 88 temples!
From Daiho-ji (#44) to Iwaya-ji (#45 岩屋寺) was pretty long downhill, I didn't feel excited at all while I rode in this slope, that moment, all my thought was I would feel very upset soon when I returned in the same way. This is my first time , regarding as downhill was such a sad matter.
After I visited so many temples in Shikoku, Iwaya-ji (#45 岩屋寺) was one of the temples made me impressed. The view is definitely unique one. Rocks, cliff or crag are covered this temple. Just like its name "Iwaya", it means Rocky House in Kanji. Iwaya-ji (#45) is worthy to stay longer time! How spectacular here is!
We stayed Iwaya-ji (#45) about 1 hour, I was so hungry then. I ate nothing but breakfast, but here was no many restaurants nearby Iwaya-ji (#45), as far as I am concerned, I would suggest you supply something first before you come to Iwaya-ji (#45)~ Originally, I planed to ride more 30 KM toward Matsuyama City (松山市) today, but I was too hungry to do it. That idea disappeared very soon, all I cared that just looking for a restaurant as soon as possible, and have a rest!
We back Kuma-Kogen at 16 o'clock around through different route, according to Yellow Walking Guidebook, Mr Nakagawa booked a wide and comfortable Minshuku Ichirigi (民宿一里木). The boss was cool one because he gave me ￥500 discount. Probably based on the reason what I am a foreigner?! He brought me to chat with another old lady, who is scooter pilgrim. She didn't speak English, I spoke in my poor Japanese, fragment sentences were composed of simple vocabulary, I guessed my Japanese was never so good in my entire life that period.
Well, I got a nice meal, nice discount and nice talking in Kuma Kogen Town, I did feel so warm here, as if somebody told me that, slow down my pace, or you will miss many good memories.