We had breakfast, and by ”we” I mean, myself and the two Dutch pilgrims at 8am. The Japanese pilgrims had eaten and left the lodgings at the crack of dawn, but I had a reasonably short day ahead of me (only around 24kms of coastline walking) with temple 38 and a hot spring hotel at the end of it, so I was happy to have a little sleep-in.
Breakfast was yummy (rice and miso soup out of shot…)
My new Dutch friends were a little undecided about which course to take after reaching temple 38, but they had the owner of the B&B make a booking for them at another B&B close to temple 38 so they were going to have a leisurely day as well. I had hoped to be out and on the road before them, but somehow they managed to beat me to it, so I spent a fair bit of my day taking rests and slowing my pace so I wouldn’t catch up with them ahead of me because, you know, I’m an introvert and walking with other people means making conversation.
The owner of the B&B came and waved me off down the road and wished me well, which was nice.
After a short walk down the road, the trail physically took me down on the beach for about 2.5km of sand walking.
It was perfect weather for a beach walk (and I had a bit of fun too…)
Not far ahead, I could see my Dutch friends collecting shells and frolicking on the beach so I took a seat on a piece of driftwood that was conveniently in the middle of the beach and Skyped M for 20 minutes while they walked on ahead.
From the beach you cross a little stream over a log and head back up onto the road. I didn’t trust myself to walk over the log successfully so I looked for a path over the rocks and crossed the stream that way.
The trail then took me through a little fishing harbour where I took a pit stop at some public toilets and sat down for a drink in a hut. There were an amazing amount of fucking thief kites flying around so I was glad for the roof overhead.
The trail got really weird after this point. There was a little concrete bridge which had a sign on it saying it was the pilgrim path that I almost missed :
Then a section along the beach again which instead of being a sand beach, it was a pebble beach and there was an inordinate amount of garbage and driftwood and all sorts of things actually covering the path.
I had trouble picking out where I was supposed to walk, but I knew I needed to get back up onto the road at some point so I just sort of walked where I could until the path headed back to the cliff for a short section of sweaty climbing.
The rest of the path to the temple was mostly along the road with little diversions that took you up to the top of the cliffs, sometimes using the tsunami evacuation paths for the locals – seemingly just to make your walk more exhausting…
These diversions generally gave you spectacular ocean views though:
And I saw one of the biggest worms, I’ve ever seen. They must have really good soil in these parts!
The path along the coast again had a lot of ups and downs with very few flat sections. Someone had written “Go Henroz!” in the moss on the side of road and it gave me a little chuckle.
Kongouji temple is right on the tip of the Ashizuri cape. It’s a bit of a touristy area with lots of hot springs and hotels. I took a detour to visit the look out and the little walking paths at the end of cape before heading to the temple.
Surprisingly, Kongouji is famous for turtles, but it’s not where you get your turtle stamp to complete the back of your pilgrim coat (it’s the next temple, number 39). I checked and double-checked this point because I couldn’t live with myself if I failed to get my turtle stamp.
After visiting the temple I had lunch at one of the touristy restaurants complete with gift shop that surround the temple. Bonito sashimi was on the menu again!
After lunch I took a leisurely walk to the top of the mountain overlooking the cape, which was a bit off the pilgrim trail, so that I could check in to my hotel, Ashizuri Terume at 3pm. It is perched on the side of the cliff and had spectacular ocean views.
I’d booked on the pilgrim plan which included a twin-sized room, dinner, breakfast, free washing of my clothes and a shuttle bus ride for the sum of about $150. I didn’t have an ocean view, but the room was massive and there was an enormous terrace which was great for drying my clothes.
The hotel design is very interesting and reminds you a lot of a museum or a futuristic government building you’d see in a YA novel, with a whole floor that is a library/reading lounge:
There were free drinks & free massage chairs in the reading lounge, which I took full advantage of after my amazing hot spring. The sunset was quite lovely.
The lobby was on the 5th floor (ground floor) and then the rest of the hotel flowed down the cliff. The lift unfortunately only serviced the 5th to 3rd floors and my room was on the 2nd floor so I had to use the stairs from the 3rd to the 2nd floor.
With the free washing of the clothes, I expected a token or a free washing machine, but instead they gave me a bag to put my dirty clothes in and a member of the staff took them to the guest laundry to wash. Most of my stuff can’t be put in the drier so I just said washing will be fine. I had underwear and socks and things and was a bit mortified to have someone else touching them. Being Japan, they of course brought them back to my room afterwards, all folded up (including the underwear) even though they were still wet and needed to be hung out. If I had known I would have forked out the 200 yen and done it myself!
Dinner was a little bit disappointing. I could have upgraded my plan, but I didn’t really see the point. I was given an illustrated menu describing each dish.
There was bonito sashimi three ways:
Bits and pieces of local delicacies:
Then some boiled bamboo & daikon, rice and miso soup.
Actually the nicest part of the dinner was dessert which was a passionfruit cheesecake and coconut ice cream.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was all very hot spring, rowdy Saturday night with large groups and I felt a bit out of place and awkward by myself. I would have been happier to have all the food come out at once, eat it and go back to my room. Because I’d had lunch quite late at nearly 2pm, I couldn’t take the early 5:30pm dinner, so the next sitting was 7:30pm. It was about 9pm by the time I went back to my room.
I’d say it was the most comfortable room of my entire pilgrimage and I would have liked to have spent another night but the pilgrimage must go on!