[The Shikoku Pilgrimage] Day 14: Returning to the Trail

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It was an early start for me this morning, as I knew I had to get myself to Kyoto Station and then find out which bus would take me back to Tokushima Cty, then find yet another local bus to take me to the inn I had a room booked at. I didn’t feel like I had enough sleep, though, so it took some effort to begin my day.

I got ready, packed up my things, unmade my bed, and left an osamefuda as thanks, along with the little bell the man had given me on the way to Temple 17. I then checked out and was on my way.

I took the subway to Kyoto Station, then bought my highway bus ticket. I had about 45 minutes to kill, though, so I bought a pastry at a cafe at the station as breakfast and took a seat.

When the bus came along, I boarded with mixed feelings. I was going to miss the people I had met at my hostel and was going to miss Kyoto in general – it will always be a favourite place for me. I was anxious about my knees and how they would hold up tomorrow, if they would at all. However, I still wanted to return to the beautiful countryside of Shikoku.

Even still, as the bus pulled away from the station, I nodded off to sleep, tired from the lack of sleep over night.

When I arrived at Tokushima City, I had to laugh a little. How many times had I seen this train and bus station in the last couple of weeks? It was like seeing someone over and over again, and saying, “You again?!” But I guess there was no helping it, given my physical condition. Tokushima City was the major hub of the area. I figured I should find something to eat for lunch, but I wasn’t terribly hungry. Still, I stopped at a nearby 7-Eleven and bought an onigiri and a drink, as well as used their ATM to get some more cash for the next few days.

Once I was done eating, I found which bus I had to take to Ikuna, near Temple 20. I had to wait almost an hour for the next bus, and it was a cold wait. The wind was very chilling and seemed to go right through my jacket. I was incredibly grateful when my bus arrived.

Ikuna was quite far out, so it was a fairly lengthy bus ride. I am always amazed at how far the local buses seem to go from Tokushima. As we left the city, the land became more and more rural and more mountainous. I got to Ikuna around 2:45 or so, so still too early to check in to my inn. Still, I did walk around a bit and followed the henro trail until it became very steep. That steep trail was what awaited me tomorrow , so I was anxious, but also wanted to give it my best shot.

But I didn’t want to injure my knee today, so I wandered back to the inn and checked in. The owner of the inn, Kaneko-ya, speaks a bit of English, which is extremely helpful. It was still early in the day, so I rested in my room and booked a room at an inn close to Temple 21 for tomorrow.

Dinner was great and I managed to eat pretty much all of it, although it was perhaps a little less food than what most inns serve. For me, though, it was perfect. After finishing, I thanked my host and headed back to my room for the night.

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