Legend has it that all pilgrims meet at least once with Kobo Daishi (the monk founder of the pilgrimage), who may appear transformed in infinite ways. I cannot confirm the legend, neither deny it, as you will read.

One day, while walking by the sea, I was confronted by a fence that extended without limit to the hills of the interior, blocking completely the way. I decided to turn around and head to a couple of guys who were smoking leaning against a low wall. Both told me with exaggerated gestures that I had to take a big detour around the construction site. Suddenly they got silent and felt uneasy, while watching over my shoulder. I turned around and saw a short old woman dressed in peasant clothes running toward us and waving her hand to show I should follow her.

We entered through a hole in the fence and walked dodging construction machinery for a while until we reached a grove at the top of a hill, where the woman told me to continue alone. Before making the last curve, I looked back to say goodbye to this curious character, and she was there staring at me with a broad smile and bright eyes.

The next thing I remember was falling to my knees at the beauty of the view from the top of that hill: a cove with a small village on the coast and a huge Kobo Daishi in the interior of the bay, like a Statue of Liberty. Had it not been for the old lady and had followed the advice of those two guys, surely I would have lost one of the best memories I keep of the whole pilgrimage around the Chita Peninsula.

By the way, down to the sea, I checked that a rocky soil stretched without extending above the sea surface to the same island where the monumental statue stood. I rolled up my pants, and “walking on water” I reached the statue and gave it a big hug.

Did I meet Kobo Daishi?