I wake up on day four with a jacked-up left knee. I slipped on my way up to Shosanji yesterday and although my knee didn’t feel too bad at the time it’s definitely messed up today, I can’t really put too much weight on it and almost fall over getting out of bed. A shower helps a bit but I decide it’s probably not a bad day to take a day off to do laundry and some other errands I’ve been meaning to do.
I’m spending a lot more time in guesthouses than I expected to, every night so far in fact, so I want to find a cheaper place. After packing up my gear and sucking back some coffee I find a place near the station that’s about $10 less a night, so I head over there and move in – it’s a 10-bed dorm room but I’m the only one there, and it has free laundry.
Day five and I’m back at it, my knee feels pretty much back to normal and a bag full of clean underwear elevates my spirits. I’m way late getting back to where I left off in Yorii-naka because I sleep in and then misplace my guidebook, I don’t even get hiking until 11:30 am but it’s a pretty nice day. The next temple, number 14, known as Dainichiji, is 19 kilometres away but I’ll be walking on the sides of roads all day so it should be an easy go.
I spend most of the afternoon walking through villages and small farms with the river next to me.
One of the houses I pass by has a Nissan Skyline with some extraordinarily Japanese decals in the garage, I lean in to snap a pic:
At an intersection I see an older fellow pull over and watch me. When I reach his car he rolls down his window, smiles, and hands me a coffee. This whole pilgrims-get-free-shit thing is really nice.
Eagles are flying up and down the river, and groups of cormorants are hanging out on rocks down by the river. There’s very little traffic and I don’t meet another hiker the entire afternoon. I reach Dainichiji around 4 o’clock, but it isn’t much to see – the main temple is under construction unfortunately.
It’s only 2 kilometres to the next one and I’ve heard that most nokyo-cho offices close at 5 so I have plenty of time to make it and arrive at #14, Jorakuji, at 4:30.
#15, Kokubunji, is only another kilometre further down the road so I should definitely be able to make it as well but as I’m reading my guidebook on a bench a major obstacle falls into my lap.
It’s mew-mew-mewing and an elderly Japanese couple begin patting it while it’s in my lap so it’s not in a hurry to go anywhere. It readjusts itself to pull its front legs onto my chest and rubs its head into my chin. Ohhhh. Alright kitty I gotta go, I’ve only got 15 minutes to get to the next temple now.
I walk in and it’s 4:55, sweet.
But the nokyo-cho office is already closed… Looks like this one closes at 4:30.
I ponder what to do for a while. I’m actually 20+ kilometres closer to the city than I was when I started this morning, inside city limits in fact – I passed a sign saying so. Still a lot of farmland around but I’m not sure about camping here. And it’s cold, cause I’m kind of a pussy these days it seems. Hell with it, I’m taking a bus back to the guesthouse.