[The Shikoku Pilgrimage] Day 4: Return to Tokushima

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I accidentally slept in and was woken up a little after 6am by the elderly man from yesterday for breakfast. I promptly put some clothes over my thermal base layer and hurried to the dining room where I ate another satisfying breakfast. At the end of my meal, the man gave me some packed onigiri and a can of green tea to take with me as osettai. He also wrote out a note for me in Japanese, which I unfortunately can’t read. I’ll have to ask someone to translate it for me later.

I returned to my room and packed up my belongings. I left behind a paper journal that I hadn’t even used yet (I had brought it in case I couldn’t use my iPad to write out a journal, but that hadn’t been been an issue yet, so I ditched the journal) and the small box of matches given to me by the owner of the previous inn I stayed at (useful for lighting offertory incense and candles at temples, but I hadn’t bought any, so matches were useless to me). I figured I’d do a more thorough purging once in Tokushima and had more time to do it.

Before leaving, I did write out and leave an osamefuda for the inn owners, as I did not know where they were. I also made sure to turn around and bow towards the inn as I left. I read on another pilgrim’s blog that he had done this as a way to thank those who looked after him. I thought it was a lovely gesture, and I did the same, silently thanking the staff for accommodating me during my time of need. I had slowly come to realize that I had been the only guest that night, so they had made breakfast just for me alone (and would explain why dinner had not been served last night).

Luckily, the train station was a short walk away from the inn. I bought my ticket and boarded the train to Tokushima.

My hotel in Tokushima was right next to the train station. It was still only about 8:30am and when I asked at the hotel, check-in wasn’t until 2pm. I dropped off my backpack and staff there and then went to explore.

There really isn’t a whole lot to do in Tokushima, especially so early in the morning. I stopped at a Starbucks to have a drink and snack, trying my best to take my time. When I finished everything, I moved on. I knew Tokushima was famous for its Awa Odori Festival in August and that it had a special hall dedicated to it and where they had regular Awa dance performances there. I meandered down the street towards it.

My knees were still sore and protested every step, but at least I wasn’t limping. The pain in my right hip was gone, too, which was encouraging.

I made it to the Awa Odori Kaikan just fine, but when I got there, I found out performances didn’t start until 2pm and it was only about 10am or so. I thought about taking the ropeway up Mt. Bizan, but it was a cloudy morning and I didn’t think I’d get a good view up there.

So, I wandered around a nearby shopping arcade. Most stores were closed, either not open for the day yet or close for business entirely. There were a couple of kimono shops I passed by that I was sorely tempted to go into, but I reminded myself that I was trying to get rid of weight in my backpack, not add to it.

I also came across an Animate store, which I passed a couple of times before deciding to go in. I was sorely tempted again to buy things, but managed to hold back.

And just above the Animate store was, conveniently enough, a movie theatre entirely dedicated to anime movies! I had no intention of watching a movie because I knew I wouldn’t understand anything without subtitles, but I wandered in, anyway. Even so, they had some nice merchandise on sale, which I looked at, but again, held back from buying.

I then noted some of the movies that were playing. One was the very famous “Kimi no Na wa” or “Your Name”, which I hadn’t really wanted to see because, I have to admit, I’m not a Makoto Shinkai fan. His films are pretty to look at, but I find the stories of his films are often melodramatic and rather empty of substance, although I know I’m in the minority amongst anime fans. Then I noticed that there was a Black Butler movie, adapting “zombies on a ship” arc (not the official title, haha) of the manga and that it was going to play in about 15 minutes. I figured it would be a great way to pass the time and I wouldn’t necessarily need subtitles to understand it because I had read that arc of the manga already (granted, it was 2-3 years ago, but I remembered it fairly well, as it had been a nail biter of an arc). Lucky! I bought my ticket and went up to the theatre.

Watching the movie was fun. I wished there were subtitles so I could understand the dialogue, but at least I knew what was going on. And best of all, when I got out of the theatre, it was about 1:40pm, almost check-in time.

I walked back (slowly) towards the hotel, stopping at a bench once to eat the onigiri that I received that morning. Then I headed into the little mall attached to the train station, where I found a drug store. I picked up another knee wrap and ankle wrap for my right leg, as they seemed to be helping my left leg. I also bought a snack and milk tea (my favourite) from a convenience store. I then moved on to check in to my hotel, picking up my belongings at the front desk.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon in my hotel room. The bathroom came equipped with a clothesline, so I did some sink laundry. I also took out nearly everything from my backpack and considered what I could leave behind and what I would take with me. Obviously, some things were mandatory, like clothes, medications, feminine hygiene products, and bandages. I would probably ditch my light sweater (which I hadn’t used thus far, even during the cold mornings), scarf (same reason), soap (all hotels and inns had soap and shampoo to use for free), and mini tripod (hadn’t used it thus far and I could always ask other pilgrims to take my picture if needed). I would be a bit sad to lose the tripod, as it was fairly new, but I thought maybe this would be kind of the point of a Buddhist pilgrimage – getting rid of unnecessary material possessions and only taking things that were absolutely necessary. Of course, there would be a few things that weren’t, like my camera, but otherwise, I’d try to trim down my backpack weight as much as possible.

For dinner, I wandered around the area until I found a ramen place. Luckily, their menu had English translations, so it was easy to order.  It wasn’t the best ramen I’ve ever had, but it was definitely satisfying. With that, I returned to my hotel room to rest for the night.

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