#50 Toppo


Temple: Toyogahashi – this is a bangai temple that’s a friendly little place on a main road close to a shopping centre and a big onsen. I came here out of order because the seventh Bangai is 20km each way up a mountain. I wanted a whole day to do reach the seventh to ensure I didn’t get stuck on the mountain-side in the dark, even though it meant backtracking.

Dedication: Toppo – he’s a free man! And he’s great, may he stay that way.

I had just made it into Ozu town at lunchtime when Toppo popped his head round a corner! I was debating if I should go for the mountain temple but as we were right next to an onsen I decided to have lunch with Toppo instead. We had soba and omirice with a couple of beers and then some ice cream while we enjoyed the free foot bath and chatted to all the passing henro. Well Toppo chatted and I said “igirisu desu”, “hai”, “wakarimasen”, “ganbatte”. Toppo doesn’t speak much English and my Japanese is awful but between the two of us and some sign language we had a really fun lunch.

I knew that the bangai temple in Ozu had tsuyado so we walked there and asked for it. The monk found us a bit comical but signed my book and let us in. It was a nice little room. Soon two more people turned up: Shige – a cycling henro and John – a kiwi from Invercargill taking 88 days to do it and sketching as he went. I went off to the onsen with Toppo and Shige then Toppo cooked noodles for us and we had beer, Jack Daniels and shochu while listening to Bob Marley. I really liked John, we had quite a bit in common and had both been to the New Zealand vipassana site. Taking it slow and enjoying it makes a lot of sense and I was so glad I did that today.