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Steep Path to Yokomine-ji Temple

60th temple of the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Yokomine-ji Temple, the 60th temple of the Shikoku pilgrimage, is located in the middle of Mount Ishizuchi (the highest peak on Shikoku Island). Its altitude, 750m, makes it the third-highest among the 88 temples. The mountain path leading up to it is steep, and therefore it’s referred to as “henro-korogasi” (steep path making pilgrims fall down).

Last summer, I walked one of the paths from Yunami to Yokomine-ji temple. I got off my motorcycle at a rest hut for Yunami, and started climbing with a walking staff that I found at the entrance of the path. The first 1 km was easy, but it got harder little by little. Along the way, I found cuckoos, petites, jays, warblers, wrens, and so on. The songs of these wild birds cheered me up.

Finally, I came upon a traditional Japanese building - the entrance gate of Yokomine-ji Temple! This temple is famous for its rhododendrons in the early summer. I gave thanks to Kobo Daishi at the temple, and walked to my destination “Hoshi-ga-mori” (Forest of Stars). The wind felt good, and I imagined that the stars at night would be beautiful. The Milky Way also must be clearly visible. In any case, the 5.8km-mountain-walk turned out to be harder than I expected. My back hurt!

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