We stopped in the temple grounds of number 5, Jizoji, to do some sketching and rest our legs. The henro route is mostly on pavement, which is surprisingly hard on the feet. In this lovely courtyard there was a huge and gorgeous ginkgo tree (not the one I painted). The women in the temple office, who stamped and painted our book, told us the tree was 800 years old. It made me think that the scrawny specimen in my yard at home had a long way to go!
Our first day on the walk was marked by bright blue fall skies over small farm holdings and houses. The route was lined with clipped pines, orange and persimmon trees, eggplant and rice fields and swaths of cosmos flowers. One of the highlights of the day was walking along with a group of henro from Kyushu. I chatted with an older lady who explained that they took the Friday overnight ferry from Kyushu to Shikoku, were met by their guide on Saturday morning, walked from temple 1 to 5, had dinner, then got back on the overnight ferry and were back in Kyushu by Sunday morning. And all this for 10,000 yen. (about $100 CAD). It is fascinating to see the variations on how the pilgrimage is done. We even saw a guy on a motorbike in the white henro coat, going from temple to temple.
Japanese temple buildings, especially the roofs are a real visual puzzle and a challenge for artists at any level. In this painting, I was aiming for just an impression of what I was seeing. We had about an hour to look around and get sketching before we had to get to our accommodation at Kotobuki Shokudo. The idea is to arrive at your minshuku or ryokan by about 5 pm so you can have a bath before dinner at 6 pm. I have to say, things in Japan are very well organized.