Temple: Okuboji – the last temple and one of the first to abolish the rule that women were not allowed to climb sacred mountains paths. A lot of people leave their staffs here. It’s in a quiet spot but has a few shops and restaurants just outside the gate that are only open while the temple is.
Dedication: Thanks, Marc. Amazing.
I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it several times but here I am. It wasn’t perfect. But it was fun. And hard. I was a king all this time without knowing it.
It isn’t the end of anything really, it’s just another temple. Even if I did it again I’d still have the moments slumped against a wall wondering if I can carry on, the confusion of trying to understand directions, the despair of finding anywhere to sleep and the worry that I’ll find a better place to rest if I just carry on a few kilometres more. That’s great. There’s a lot of value in confusion and imperfection. Long may it continue.
It took a lot of other people to allow me to do it. Thank you for the osettai, from food and lodging to directions and a friendly smile and konichiwa. They all helped me and I have to wonder how it shapes a place’s people to show that level of generosity and giving every single day.
Thank you to the walking companions. I wanted to do it all alone when I started but of course the people turned out to be the best bit. Thanks to all of you but particularly Pierre, Stephenie, Toppo and John.
Thanks to everyone who emailed me, the messages really kept me going.
Thank you to all the people who have shaped me and made me who I am today. Everyone in the dedications and many more beside.
Now I’m off to walk back to the first temple, then to Koyasan to report to Kukai on how the pilgrimage went and finally to Toji in Kyoto to finish the bangai route. I’m going to do those with some silence and reflection. This is the last entry here.