The Imperial Pilgrimage Tour
Ah! Ah! Ooooh!
We had a good size group for this October's tour of the Kii Peninsula. We enjoyed warm, early autumn (it is late this year) days and saw more wildlife than we normally do on the pilgrimage route. Other hikers, though, were few and far between. We had the mountains to ourselves!
The path takes two ways
Toad jumps, crabs crawl, the birds fly
Which is right, which wrong?
More haiku here.
As we arrived earlier than usual, we decided on doing a short hike around the rim of Mount Koya on the first day. Entry to Mount Koya was forbidden to women until the Meiji Restoration (1868). Pilgrims would reach the great gate, then walk on a path around Koya to worship at Nyonindo. We followed this path before descending to walk to Okunoin.
The following day our visit to Ryujin Onsen was, as usual, a great success. After a splendid dinner we watched the 2003 Beat Takeshi film Zatoichi. Later during the tour, in Yoshino, again after a delicious dinner, we watched the ramen noodle western Tanpopo by director Itami Juzo.
The evening with the funky monk was, as ever, a hit, with not inconsiderable quantities of alcohol fuelling not only lofty, spiritual thoughts on what is ‘good', but spontaneous music too. We also enjoyed karaoke at our inn in Yoshino.
We had a wonderful day walking the lovely Yamanobe no michi. The path is lined with orchards which, at this time of year, are overflowing with persimmons and early citrus fruits. Later, we happened to be in Nara - visiting the Todaiji Temple with its Great Buddha - when we crossed paths with Prince Charles and Camilla. It was a low key affair that sent ripples of excitement through the modest local groups of onlookers. Diana remains a firm favourite amongst the Japanese …
From Kyoto we had a day out in the pretty village of Ohara. We were rewarded with lovely views across the city after an uphill climb above Jakkoin Temple.
As you'll see from the photos, the Christmas tree and lights were already up in Kyoto Station! A rather surreal sight after our fortnight of communing with the mountain spirits in this sacred area of Japan. The cry ‘Ah! Ah! Oooooh …!' we all learned from Kosho san, the gyoja (mountain monk), echoes still.
Click to read haiku poems from