Having “proved” in the last three posts that imagination can help us to discover things such as Japan is a dragon (and Shikoku island its huge pearl), I can return to the bike pilgrimage I had “parked” after crossing the range of mountains that divide the main island of Japan.

Most of the population congregates on the coast bathed by the Pacific (the southern one), hence the new stage of my pilgrimage differed considerably from the northern one. Now I moved in an environment mostly urban.

My passage through the sprawled city of Osaka (the second largest after Tokyo) was especially unpleasant. The only place I could find to spend the night was a cemetery.

I set up my small camp under a Jizo Bodhisattva statue, the protector of travelers (including those on their last trip) and went to sleep.

I could rest peacefully until “something” struck me at dawn. I opened my eyes without knowing exactly what they’d meet.

After a second of terror, I managed to see the figure of an aged lady looking like anything but ghostly, who kindly hurried me to get up. Just when I had finished packing and was about to leave my “suite,” a large group of people holding buckets and brushes entered the cemetery. It turned out that was the cleaning day.

I don’t know who that lady was, but her apparition couldn’t be more timely.