近海る (Kin Kairu)

JET, Japan, Journalism and other J words

Archive for the category “Travels”

The Informational Shikoku Pilgrimage Post: Kagawa Prefecture

In tune with some of my past posts regarding my pilgrimage hike, I’m going to have at least one here with the straight-to-the-point details about where I stayed, my recommendations, and relevant anecdotes. This will focus on the last section of the trail: Kagawa Prefecture.

Day 1: Temple 65 (Sankakuji)

The hour and a half ride express train ride from Tokushima station to Iyo-Mishima, the closest to Temple 65, costs roughly 6000 yen. Not bad considering the 10,000 yen ticket I had to pay to get to the area around Temple 40. The hike up to Sankakuji was fine, but the 19 km walk towards 66 afterwards took a lot longer than I expected. I would also not recommend doing both 65 and 66 in one day, as 66 is the highest mountain on the trail! You will be pooped. I stayed at a business hotel a couple of kilometers west of 66 in Miyoshi city. The area has plenty of convenience stores and other lodging as well, so I think going a little bit farther and backtracking the next day is worth it. The city is also fairly close to Bangai #15 if you are also visiting those.

Stay: Awa-Ikeda Business Hotel
Phone: 0883-72-1010
Price: ~4500 yen (no meals)
Type: Single bed
Impression: Alright place to stay, though my room smelled a little bit like smoke.

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Shikoku Pilgrimage: A Note on Kochi

I’m going to be writing up about my latest trip to Ehime, in which I did the third section of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Obviously doing the math there, some may ask “Ok, but where’s Kochi then? Did you even go?”

Oh, I did!

By car!

Almost a year and a half ago…!

During Golden Week (a week holiday in Japan from late April to early May) in 2014, I drove along Kochi prefecture to complete the second section, known as the “Dojo of Religious Training.” If you’re wondering why I drove instead of walked, please take a look at the map below.

Shikoku Pilgrimage map

Shikoku Pilgrimage map

The end of the Tokushima prefecture section is Temple 23, and Kochi prefecture goes from temples 24-39.

Taking into account the space between 23->24, 36->37, 37->38, and 38->39, that’s a lot of distance!

If I’m going to be honest though, once I visited all of the Kochi temples, I didn’t like the car method as much. In short, I overestimated how far I would drive each day, which made my visits to each temple significantly shorter than if I walked. Having said that, I honestly don’t remember too much about each temple and don’t have a breadth of stories to pick from and write about. But I still wanted to give resources as far as where I stayed and my general impressions, as well as some key spots to visit along the way for any pilgrims-to-be.

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Kumano Kodo Kohechi Pilgrimage Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

It’s Monday morning of Day 3, and the rain is at its peak. As we reach the summit, the path is just wide enough for two feet. On one side lies a mountain face. The other, a steep cliff thick with trees. One false misstep could mean some serious trouble as there’s no reception 1,000 kilometers high in the mountains. My friend and I check the map to make sure we are going the right way. As we venture forward a few hundred meters, we spot a hand-made sign on the trail, “You are going the right way.”

As we ate our breakfast and watched the morning forecast, my friend and I thought that we could beat the rain to our next hotel. “Hopefully you’ll just be able to miss it!” the Minshuku owner said as we departed.

No more than a half hour in, it began to rain.

Day 3
Hiking Time: ~5 Hours
Mileage: ~19 km

Day 3 map

Day 3 map

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Kumano Kodo Kohechi Pilgrimage Part 1

Without any inclination, one of the older ladies came behind both of us and started giving massages. As my face winced with both pain and relief, someone else shouted, in a friendly manner, “You’re hurting him!” “Geez, you’re back is tense!” the lady said to me as she dug deeper into my shoulder blades. When she was finished, she gave me a hardy slap on the back. “Be careful out there, sonny!”


I walked and completed another pilgrimage recently. Luckily, it was a lot shorter than my previous stints in Shikoku. For four days I walked along the Kumano Kodo Kohechi, a trail with over 1,000 years of history. Monks and aristocrats alike would use the path to travel between Koya-san, the Shingon Buddhism headquarters, and Hongu-Taisha, the grand Shinto shrine in the southern part of Wakayama.

Kumano Trails Map

Kumano Trails Map. We walked the green trail.

While it is far more normal to walk the trail from Koya-san to Hongu-Taisha, my friend and I decided we wanted to save the best for last and started the trail from the grand shrine in the south. While many people found this unusual, having a nice temple stay and a whole day at Koya-san was quite worth it in the end.

Because I don’t want this trip to span over months of writing, I am going to condense it down into a photo essay style and show the highlights of the trail. Anyone looking for a nice, enjoyable, but somewhat challenging hike with an exuberant amount of history should really check it out.

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Flores Island Expedition: Labuan Bajo


After a considerable amount of time, I think I can say after traveling to the tropics, and at one point hiking barefoot through the Indonesian forest, I did not get Malaria or any other diseases! It’s like a second Christmas.

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Flores Island Preview

While I am still in the midst of writing a summary about my Golden Week trip to Indonesia, in the meantime I made a video with some of my favorite photos I took along the way. So, take this as a preview as what’s to come and enjoy the video!

Flores Island Video from Kyle C. on Vimeo.

Sticks and Dicks

The wave comes again, like it had many times before. The pain on my feet, arms, and chest returns as bodies all around me squish my own, and I try to find open pockets to relieve the crunch. But you learn very quickly to become one with the flow, for if you don’t recreate the balance the only outcome is defeat. I push back with all that I can to make sure the people at the other end won’t be able to advance so easily, as they try to force themselves in the center of the madness.

The monk standing above us occasionally pulls out a ladle to throw water on us, and holds out his hands to give periodic signs as a countdown for the main event.

50 minutes.

30 minutes.

10 minutes.

5 minutes.

Then everything turns pitch black. The yelling gets louder. The sticks are dropped. The fight begins.

Such was the Okayama Naked Man Festival.

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CHILLING IN SAPPORO (Yuki Matsuri 2015)

Here I will not bore you with some in-detailed writing about the majesty of the snow sculptures in Sapporo, or how my trip to Hokkaido made me appreciate the snowy land of the North. I’m sure there are more than enough pieces of writing out there that do just that. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to provide what I can: pictures. And the internet loves pictures! It’s a win-win for the both of us.

For three days I went to the infamous Yuki Matsuri, and also traveled up north to visit the light festival in Otaru. Below you will find pictures of the large snow sculptures, the excellent food I had (with links of how to get there!) and other interesting bits I came across. Enjoy!

The Snow Sculptures

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There and Back Again

“THIS WAY, SIR,” an airport agent calls to me as I stand jet lagged in the US citizens line. I approach a booth and am prompted to print out a photo of my face, which is a completely new process to me. I then bring all of the required papers to the customs officer, and had an odd sense of worry about what he might ask me.

“So, what are you bringing home, son?”

“Uh, treats, candy and other stuff like that.”

Then he waves me off with a most halfhearted, “See ya.”


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Korea Part 3: Block Rockin’ Busan

As I rode the train from Seoul back to Busan, I got word that my flight that day had been cancelled because a big bad Typhoon decided to make its way through Japan. I had to act fast, so I bought the cheapest espresso I could find and shamelessly used a cafe’s WiFi for hours (seriously, the best part about Korea is the availability of WiFi) to make calls to my airline. After an extraordinary amount of waiting, I finally got through, only to be told all the flights the next day were full.

So I told them to give me my money back and bought a ticket on the airline that got me to Busan in the first place. After all that, I never did fly Peach.

With a whole day to spend in Busan, I found a really cheap hostel close to the station, and asked the owner if he had any recommendations in the city. Without any hesitation, he said I should go check out the beach, despite the crappy weather.

A giant "no smoking" statue at the beach.


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