Ruth: It’s strange to be on day five and be exactly where we started: in downtown Tokushima. The first 17 temples are in and around Tokushima, so we have slowly been circling around the surrounding foothills. 

It seems important to write something about what not to pack for the Shikoku pilgrimage. My friend Mary told me in advance that I wouldn’t need to bring much at all and I should have listened. The minshukus and ryokans provide you with shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushs and single use toothpaste and towels. Perhaps more importantly, they provide you with your evening wear in the form of a kimono. People head to dinner in these delightful robes making that second outfit completely redundant. In addition, the available washing machines and dryers allow you to wash every stitch of clothing you own each night if you need to. Gord and I brought so much clothing we are doing our first laundry on day 5, but we could have easily made do with a quarter of it. 

There are a few things I am very glad to have packed, however.  My ultra-lightweight camp chair gives me a comfortable seat at the end of the day. The rooms have traditional tatami floors with pillows around a low table. They are elegant, simple rooms, but there are generally no chairs.  I am always careful to set-up my camp chair on a pillow or futon to protect the tatami mats from marks. 
I am also very happy to have my two tiny inflatable camp pillows. The beds are thin futons with much less cushioning than we are used to. One pillow between the knees and another for the head works well for me. Pillows in Japan are often filled with buckwheat hulls.  Many people love them, but I find them a bit too hard. 

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