The henro route to Senyu-ji was different from what I had expected, as it was mainly mountainous. It was also quite steep. As I gradually climbed up, I could see the city of Imabari and the Shimanami Sea Route.
The main gate of Senyu-ji finally came into my view. The Nio-statue here is quite dynamic and powerful, including its expression.
The walk from the main gate to the main temple was quite steep, and there were various Jizo statues along the way.
When I finally reached the top, I found Osuna-fumi-dojo of the 88 sacred places on Shikoku Island. There is a magnificent main temple and a rather small Taishi-do. There seemed to be enough time to recite sutra and mantra. Interestingly, temple stamp was provided to the pilgrims inside the main temple. While he was writing the script on the temple stamp, he asked if I would be staying at the temple today and to relax at the pilgrim’s lodge.
There was no TV in the room as in the pilgrim’s lodge, but there is a wonderful view of Imabari, and the bath is a natural hot spring!
It was Valentine’s Day yesterday, so they offered me some chocolates. I was told that a Belgian woman who visits this pilgrim’s lodge every year sends them chocolates, so they offered part of it to pilgrims staying here. Dinner was Japanese vegetarian cuisine, and was delicious and beautiful, including a thick taste sesame tofu and brown rice. I was surprised to be able to order beer, and was especially surprised by the tangerine peel tempura, which was really delicious.
The morning air was crisp and there was a morning religious service at 6:00 a.m.
The atmosphere was solemn in front of the Senjyu-Kanzeon-Bosatsu (Thousand-armed Kanzeon Bosatsu). When the priest began to read the Heart Sutra, we burned incense and read the sutra together. I was grateful for the quiet and solemn time. After that, the chief priest gave a talk.
The priest lost his wife due to cancer about two years ago, and he himself is undergoing treatment for cancer. When his wife passed away, he did the pilgrimage on foot while sleeping in the open. He became a priest even though his parents were not. Being a priest, he came to realize that he is what he is because of the support of his parents, ancestors and his parishioners and that how important it is to be grateful.
In fact, he is the founder of the initiative to register the Shikoku Pilgrimage Route as the World Heritage Site. He said that rather than religions or buildings, he wants to convey the beauty of the fact that this route has been protected by local people for over 1,000 years and that there are still people walking along it. I could sympathize with his thought very much, so I signed the petition. His lecture also made me think deeply about the importance of gratitude, which I have felt a lot throughout this pilgrimage. People who joined the morning service were allowed to take photos of the temple inside, so I took some to remind myself of the atmosphere.
It was quite special and memorable moment. Breakfast was served afterwards, simple but tasty.
|Dedicated to||Senjyu-Kanzeon-Bosatsu (千手観世音菩薩)|
|Founded by||Ochi Moriko (越智守興)|
|Denomination||Shingon-sect Koya-group (真言宗高野派)|
|Mantra||おん ばざらたらま きりく|
On Bazaratarama Kiriku
|Next temple||No.59 Kokubun-ji (6.1 Km away)|
|Previous temple||No.57 Eifuku-ji (2.4 Km away)|
|Hotel fee||6000 JPY|