Oniko's Travel Diary:|
The Saigoku Pilgrimage
(July 20-August 16, 1999)
July 27, 1999
I got up and out at about ten this morning, with the Ryokan owner politely fanning me to keep me cool as I put on my boots. I headed straight for Imagumano Temple, or as straight as I could... this is a big temple complex, and it's all connected by winding roads in a hilly wooded area, so it took some poking around to find the right place within the grounds. After getting my book stamped to prove I'd been there, I walked the long way back to Kyoto central station where I sat for awhile to look through information on my computer and consider what would be the next place to go to.
I choose Mii temple... here's why. On all the maps I have of the pilgrimage route, it is grouped together as one dot with the five temples I've already visited... so very nearby, somewhere, but not on any map of Kyoto. After asking around, I found the reason: it's in a town called Otsu, just over the mountains and on the edge of the gigantic Lake Biwa... a short train ride under a mountain, but a very, very long walk over (I took the train).
Once in Otsu, I stopped at the visitor's center to get local maps; the people there were amused (as many are) that I prefered to walk the two miles to the temple rather than take the tourist bus. More importantly though, I discovered Otsu has a big Youth Hostel -- at which I am presently staying. So I walked to the temple complex, passing through one of those covered shopping streets I've mentioned before.
I have a theory. A 'temple complex' is called that because it is; complex, that is. I found the place you get your book stamped immediately -- it was just past the ticket booth -- but I wanted to visit the image of Kannon first (which is supposed to be the actual point of the pilgrimage, not getting the stamps). So I followed the signs, which were not very precise as it turned out... I ended up in a remote back portion of the temple grounds high in the hills, where I got to visit a graveyard that most people probably miss when they visit. After a little re-orientation, I got pointed in the right direction, and found the place. I was sweating cats and dogs by then; it's a mountain temple, with more stairs than Trump Tower. Oy.
So I visited the image, got my book stamped, and stomped the remaining mile over to the youth hostel and got a place to sleep for just $20... and even though the room has eight beds in it, it's the off season for the moment, so I've got the room to myself. I dumped my stuff and, now light as a feather, took a train back to the shopping street I walked through earlier and wasted time, bought socks and dinner, and visited the Toy Palace, a combination day-care center and toy museum. Definitely cool.
Having relaxed a little, I came back here, to the Youth Hostel, to type this and consider what I'm doing tomorrow. I can either go north, and visit one of the most remote temples -- it's on a rock in the middle of Lake Biwa -- or I can go south, where there are several temples within short train rides of each other. Let you know what I do tomorrow. Good Night.
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