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Monday, December 07, 2015

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 76 Kashi to Munakata Part II

A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 76, Friday March 28th, 2014
Kashi to Munakata part II

After leaving Miyajidake shrine I have to head back to where the main road and rail lines head northeast as there are mountains between me and my next stop.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 76 Kashi to Munakata Part II.

The main road hold no interest for me, but it's a beautiful day and I stride along with the vigor that comes with being close to the end of my walk. I find temple number 87, Munakata Kannonji, in Togo. It's a concrete temple in an urban setting, the grounds are all white gravel with a couple of vermillion shrines. Two new statues of an elderly man and woman are the focal point.

Now I head directly north and am soon among rice paddies before reaching the river. The road I must take runs along the top of the levee towards the sea. Soon I am approaching Munakata Taisha, a major shrine. I enter from the rear through woodland. Munakata Taisha is one of three shrines, the other two being on islands, that are strongly connected to the sea route to the Korean Peninsula. and which enshrine three female kami. The most famous Munakata-related shrine is of course Itsukushima on Miyajima near Hiroshima.

Munakata Taisha Cherry Blossom.

Walking around the shrine I notice a lot of pretty, young women, mostly in pairs. I have noticed the same at other major touristy shrines. If I were a younger man, and if I were single, and wanting to meet young women, one place I would head to would be a major shrine. But enough fantasizing - I have a pilgrimage to complete, so I don't stop in at the shrine's big museum which houses and displays many of the artifacts connected to the ancient link with the Korean Peninsula.

The final temple, number 88, Chinkokuji, is just across the river. It's on the hilltop overlooking the river and the map only shows a road that winds around the back of the hill. The map doesn't show any steps leading directly up so I take the long walk round. Of course when I get up there I can see the steps that lead straight down. Its quite a large temple, and on a section of land just below the main buildings some sort of a cherry-blossom viewing party is underway.

So!... that's it. I've finished my 78 day walk around Kyushu. But not yet. Up some steep steps to the top of the hill is temple 108, the okunoin of this temple. The main pilgrimage is 88 temples, and the significance of 88 is that it is the number of temples on the famous Shikoku pilgrimage. Why 88, has no agreed upon reason, but the number has stuck and quite a few other pilgrimages have used that number too, but the Shikoku pilgrimage has an  'extra' 20 temples, called bangai, and so does this one, and the number 108 does have a significance.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 76 Kashi to Munakata Part II.

Temple bells will be rung 108 times at midnight on New Year's Eve, and the Buddhist rosary has 108 beads, because there are 108 'delusions' that prevent the attainment of enlightenment. I climb the steps to the small building on top. Quite a few others do too so I ask someone to take a memorial photo, and then I climb down feeling quite pleased with myself. Now just a few more kilometers walking back up the river to where I can catch a bus and head to my hotel. But in fact, I am not quite finished. Yesterday I skipped a ten kilometers section of the pilgrimage that has a couple of temples, so before I can take the train home I need to do that one last section.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 76

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