One Man Walking

2008-05-02 The one day henro

May 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

I spent the day as a pilgrim on the henro trail. It was a rewarding mix of roads, steep trails and fascinating temples. My first human interaction came from the little old shop lady who brought me a cup of tea. The second from a car-pilgrim who, dressed in white and with his kasa (straw hat) on the back seat, stopped to give me an orange. The third was a driver who offered me a lift and met me with a blank stare when I said I was heading for Hokkaido on foot. A little while later I spoke to two female pilgrims resting at a sign and was asked to pose with them when I explained my plan. As I powered on up the hill I heard them chattering away with that lovely drawn out surprised tone the Japanese have. “Reeeaaaaaally?” “Wooooooow!”

Two pilgrims

The temple itself, number 44 for those doing the whole route, was a familiar affair. I’m not a believer so I left those that cared do their ceremonies in peace and headed up the hill to the next one. The path stayed in the woods a lot. Much steeper than any of the PCT, I was covered in sweat and breathing hard, and it was good. My feet were no longer met by the slap of concrete but by the soft thud of duff, the cracking of twigs and the rustle of leaves. And it was good. At the first pass I let the wind dry the sweat on my forehead. Crispy to the touch, I felt at home again. I don’t make any claim to be a real mountain man, living off the land and all that, but I feel good when I reach the top with my heart racing and deserve the water I carried there.

Along the way I met Tetsuya Nakamura (Te-chan to his buddies like me). My conversations have been limited but held entirely in Japanese. I learned he is also heading to Ishizuchi-san, but using the bus. He could at least show me the road and a trail leading up. He says it’s 40k but my estimate is less than 20.

fiery diety

The descent into temple 45 was a maze of winding tracks strung between statues and shrines embedded in cliff faces and under tree roots. The biggest housed a 3 meter fiery red deity complete with golden lotus flowers and offerings of sake. Tonight I’m sleeping on the porch of a small shrine in the town below 45. I face the confusing task of resupplying for a trek I have no idea about. What food will be up there? How long will I be up there? Don’t know. But to the mountains I must go.

Word of the day: henro = pilgrim

Distance today: 36km

hiking  ·  photo  ·  shrine

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Peter A // May 9, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Duff? The beer? From simpsons? Are you walking on fictional cartoon beer?

  • 2 denis // May 9, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Maybe he’s thinking of a fictional carton of beer?

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