Day 10 dawned overcast. It had rained heavily all night (so heavily it had woken me up) and while it was not raining in the morning, there was rain on the forecast. I was looking forward to having an easier day (only 25kms with no mountains!!) and it was going to be made even easier by the fact that the hotel was going to take my backpack to my next hotel so I could walk unencumbered. It was another perk of staying consecutively at hotels that are owned by the same management (I’d read about it in my research – I may have no sense of direction, but I can plan the shit out of a pilgrimage.)
I started with breakfast. It was delightfully Japanese. There was a mini hibachi to cook my fish and seaweed on.
The seaweed was very unusual (apparently it’s a local thing) and highly flammable so just a quick swipe over the flame is all you need. The little fishies came from the river and after a grilling, you could eat them head and all (good calcium).
The gap in the middle of the tray was where the raw egg was. The waitress asked if I’d like it cooked and it came back scrambled with a side of tomato sauce.
I packed up my valuables, wet weather gear, water and blister kit into my smaller backpack and entrusted my main backpack to the hotel staff. It was very nice not to have that extra weight on my back, but I did have a fleeting thought of what I would do if it went missing because it contained all my maps, clothes and temple book. Then I remembered that this is Japan and that sort of thing just would not happen.
The path took me along the river that was behind the hotel for the first hour and a half. On one side was the river and the on the other was the train line, with its colourful diesel train.
The river was quite clear and apparently contained eels and sweet fish (so I read on a sign warning against illegal fishing.) The train disappeared into a tunnel and after continuing along the quite road a little further, I was struck with a choice – continue on the road ahead which then joined onto the busy road from yesterday or branch off and go bush on the pilgrim path. I decided to go and have a look at how the pilgrim path looked and make a decision.
The path wound through a lot of rice paddies that were in the midst of being planted and through a little village.
I finally came to the beginning of the walking path, took one look at it and firmly decided against it. One problem with the pilgrim path maps is you never know if a walking path is going to be a steep climb/descent up/down a mountain or a pleasant jaunt through the forest. In this case it looked like one of yesterday’s hair-raising paths and after the rain, I thought it would be very slippery.
As I was heading back to the main road, I passed a man in one of the rice paddies that I had passed earlier on my way to look at the path. I said hello to him again and then we had an interesting conversation that went like this:
Man: I saw you yesterday.
Man: Yeah, I saw you walking up the road and then down the same road.
Me: You drove past me?
Man: (very amused) Yeah, I was wondering where the hell you were going.
Me: (dying with shame) I have a bad sense of direction
Man: (still very amused) The henro path is back that way
Me: I know. I just went to have a look at it. I think it looks slippery so I’m heading back to the main road
Man: (checking out my hiking shoes) You’ll be fine on the henro path. It’s a good path.
Me: I’m not sure…the paths around here are all pretty rough.
Man: Well, you can get back to the main road if you go left here. It’s a short-cut.
Me: I just thought I’d go back the way I came. I don’t want to get lost again.
Man: It’s fine, go left. I take this road all the time when I’m drunk and don’t want to be caught by the cops.
Me: It definitely goes back to the main road?
Me: (looking at my map and finally agreeing that the road he was telling me to take would get me where I needed to go) Oh…ok…I’ll take the short-cut.
Man: (still exceptionally amused) Take care and don’t get lost!
So that happened. Apparently he had witnessed my tunnel fiasco yesterday and I kind of died a little inside with embarrassment.
I stopped a little further along at a road station that wasn’t on my map, but that had recently been built and was a pleasant surprise. I bought a coffee from a vending machine and sat down for a rest. It wasn’t long before a lady came up to me and asked if I was going to Temple 37. I told her I had been there yesterday and she said she was on her way there now and would have given me a lift. I said I was heading to Temple 38 which was still a couple of days away. She wished me well and drove off. A few other people came along as I was sitting there and wished me a safe journey as well.
After a couple of days of inland walking, I was heading back towards the coast.
There was a tree-covered island in the bay, giving a lovely view.
Route 56 had been my road for the last couple of days and it was going to be my path for several more days to come.
If the sky had been blue, it would have been a lovely view from the penninsula.
There were a couple of tunnels without footpaths (which I was almost becoming blasé about after walking through this many)
and then the beach (at which I almost managed to take a selfie)
I stopped for lunch at another road station that was only about 30 mins away from my hotel according to the map. I was a little bit early for check-in and decided to do a bit of time adjustment.
I bought some sushi and a drink and sat down in a tourist information centre that was adjacent to the road station. It had comfortable seating and a tv and was a pleasant way to spend half an hour.
I’d seen pictures of my hotel, Nest West Garden and knew it was a distinctive shape and it was difficult to miss the round building. I arrived at 3pm on the dot.
It overlooked the ocean, but because I’d booked a pilgrim plan room (cheap room), I had a room at the back overlooking the boiler for the communal bath instead of this view:
The rooms were like pieces of pie arranged in the circular building, with the bath in an external building joined by a covered walkway.
I had a bath tub and toilet in my room too. You can see my toilet had been “washed up”
Of course, my backpack was waiting for me in my room.
The washing machines were free and I put my clothes on to wash while I took a bath. The communal bath wasn’t a hot spring, but was ok. Unfortunately someone else entered the bath about 5 minutes after I did and she appeared to be a walking pilgrim too. She spent a lot of time rubbing her feet and making all sorts of pained noises. I knew those pained noises after a long day of walking well, but by this stage, my feet had toughened up and a hard pad of skin had formed on the bottom (which is actually just starting to peel off, almost two months later…)
The dinner here was actually the most disappointing of the trip. It was a couple of slices of cold roast beef, a cold piece of cod and a little bit of sashimi. It wasn’t very filling and didn’t taste the best either.
But there was a gift shop selling cakes and I had spied a cheesecake on my way in so I decided to buy a piece for dessert. I took the cheesecake back to my room and it was yummo.
The boiler outside my room kept roaring to life every few minutes until 11pm when the bath closed and then started again about 4am in time for the 6am opening. I definitely didn’t have a good night’s sleep, but it had been a relatively easy day and I didn’t get lost and it hadn’t rained so all was good.