(Don’t miss the credits at the end of the video)
In the temple of Nagoya where “I met Kobo Daishi,” I was informed that there was an imitation of the 88-temples-Shikoku-pilgrimage in one of the two peninsulas with which Nagoya tries to embrace the sea, in the right “arm” known as Chita Peninsula.
Thereafter, every Saturday I’d take the first train in the morning to arrive to the last of the temples I had visited the previous weekend, and I’d walk all day long until nightfall, when I returned home to have a shower and some sleep, and I’d repeat the pattern next day, on Sunday.
I now could add to my love for travelling and the sacred art an extra dimension: a spiritual quest under strenuous physical effort.
I discovered that doing a pilgrimage has little in common with doing tourism, and the sort of encounters and situations that occurred (as I’ll narrate in following posts) had usually extra-ordinary connotations.
Hard to forget the day I left, broom’s handle in hand, from the temple number one. My first stop was at a small shop in a village to buy the Japanese equal to a Spanish “tapa”, a “onigiri,” or rice ball containing a treat within. The clerk looked at me curiously and asked, “Are you a pilgrim?” After sheepishly admitting it, I heard an expression I didn’t know: “Osetai,” which I’d listen many times afterwards, and whose meaning is something like (hard to translate!): “Please accept this unrejectable offering so you can share the merit of your pilgrimage with this humble person who now helps and wish you luck in your quest.”
I received food, tea, candy, money, sometimes lodging, conversation, encouragement, and, overall, the strange feeling that the universe supported my “useless” walking to a destination that was none other than the starting point.