|Temple #39: Enkoji (Emitting Light
Honzon: Yakushi Nyorai (Baisajya-guru)
This is a pretty cool temple, with a
couple of good legends.
One is that a red turtle arose from
the sea with a bell on his back. (That bell is now in the
National Museum in Tokyo.) So there are several turtle
representations at this temple; the one shown here was my favorite.
Another legend is that the Daishi
struck a well here which has healing powers. You would
think they could house it in something more suitable than cinder block!
A third "legend" is that this
temple has a hanging scroll representing the fierce Fudo-Myoo, but in
this case he's laughing. (I didn't see it, hence it's only a
"legend" to me. But I've been assured that it really
After praying and
having the book signed, I stopped in at the toilet. As I left, a
gentleman kindly explained to me that we are not supposed to wear our wagesa--the
pilgrim's stole--into the bathroom. When I expressed interest, he
added that it shouldn't be worn when eating, either. These were
both news to me, and I was fascinated at the implications.
The usual conversation ensued--where
are you from, etc.--and he asked if I was walking. I said I had
just walked from Hirota, but that I also used trains, buses, etc.
By then his wife had emerged from the ladies' room. He passed on
the news that I wasn't a "pure walker," and they conferred
briefly. They then offered to take me to Temple 40 from here.
Let's see: it's pouring, I have all my
luggage, it's another hour until my bus comes, and I'm not sure if my
connecting bus will ever come. Now I've been offered a ride.
What should I do?
Mulling it over for a good 1.5 to 1.75
seconds, I decided to accept their kind offer. As Paul SImon says,
"Who am I to blow against the wind?" What a good move
this turned out to be.
I had decided that even with some
optimism, the best I could hope for was to get to Temple 40 then stay
the night in Uwajima. Tomorrow, I would go out to Temples 41 and
42, then return to Uwajima to fetch my bag, and continue up to Number 43
and beyond to Matsuyama city.
These incredibly kind people (shown
here at Number 40), Kazuyoshi and Michiko Ikeda, took me all the
way to Number 42, and back to Uwajima--where they drove me to the door
of the youth hostel (which is on a mountaintop). Words fail me.
This kind of kindness is almost unheard of, even in kind-hearted Japan.
They live in Kagawa, and are doing the pilgrimage on weekends. I
am so glad to have met them, for many reasons.
For example, I had the experience of
chanting with other people, something I haven't formally done on this
trip (though I slipped in with groups a couple of times). We also
had a lot of fun conversing in my bad Japanese.
But most interesting was the
experience--for one day--of being a "car henro."
Looking for a place to eat (they paid for my lunch!), finding the
parking place, using the car's navigation system--these are things I
would never have experienced without them. And look at the
progress I made! Five temples where I only expected to reach
It had its down side, of course.
Traveling with others always means taking them into consideration,
adjusting to their needs. In this case it meant not dawdling at
the temples I visited, but what I got in return far exceeded anything I
might have missed.
Overall, it was great. There's
even a chance that I'll do the pilgrimage again in the future--renting a
So we flew past the border into Ehime
prefecture. In the past, Kochi was a difficult place, both
physically--the far capes, the great distances between temples--and
officially, as the government was very strict regarding pilgrimage
regulations. So more than one writer has mentioned that, at the
pass separating Tosa (Kochi) and Iyo (Ehime), there used to be a pile of
human excrement expressing the pilgrims' farewell to Kochi. Glad I
However, Statler makes much of the pass
and its significance. I wouldn't have walked it on this trip even
if I weren't traveling by car, but I would like to return some day and
give it a try. Statler makes it sound fascinating.
In no time at all, we reached...