Friday, 27 March 2015

Kumano Kodo (Mar 27, 2015) - Day 5 Koguchi to Nachisan

A day to remember walking to Nachisan over 14.5 kms in 4.75 hours. Rarely have I pushed myself so hard as the ascent of 800 meters was a never ending staircase made of stones placed centuries ago.

The walk was incredibly inspiring so time flew by and thankfully I was very strong today. 

Last evening at the Minshuku Momofuku I had the best meal, without any question of the Kumano may have been my best meal ever! In reading comments in the guest book many previous walkers commented that this was their best meal in Japan!

Incredible Supper!

Yes I ate every last morsel of the 13 dishes however had a small serving of rice. The tempura alone was the best I have ever had. I even was able to sit on a chair! It took me close to an hour to finish!

Next the Japanese futon bedding was again the most comfortable of all the places I have stayed on the Kumano Kodo...even had a real pillow instead of a small bean bag!

Super comfortable!

After a great nights sleep breakfast was waiting for me

Now there is a delicious and filling breakfast!

As I left I thanked Mr. and Mrs. Nakazama as best I could. I told them "best food", "best sleeping" and "best hosts" on the Kumano Kodo! They seemed so turns out Mr. Nakazama is a guide on the Kumano Kodo..."Japanese only he laughed"

My final comment was that I would really like to come back some day (by bus) with my wife Dawn to spend one night at Minshuku Momofuku...Dawn you would love this place!

I am a little taller than Mrs. Nakazama!

Mr. and Mrs. Nakazama

Oh I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog that one does not have to freeze at night in Japan. It turns out the air conditioners on the wall are both heaters and air conditioners...dah!

So at 7:30 I left for the day under perfectly sunny skies...again.


The start...

Kumano Kodo for those who can't read Japanese

A sampling of the many different types of stairs that awaited me...

Every once in a while a small break!

Finally after close to two hours I crested the pass (note climbing was not done for the day as mountain trails are like a roller coaster)

The last comment on the Echizen-toge Pass picture written by a famous Japanese poet in the 12th century "This route is very rough and difficult. It is impossible to describe precisely how tough it is" what really struck me is was written around year 1200...expect not much has changed on the route since then...neat stuff!

A few pictures of the last few hours prior to arriving at Nachisan:

Heading into Nachisan

Heading into Nachisan

The Nachisan area is incredibly beautiful and important in the Japanese culture...I wish I would have been more knowledgeable about the history of this great shrine area. While I cannot pretend to appreciate it's full importance I was in awe.

Nachi-San Seiganto-ji Temple

Entrance to Kumano Nachi Grand Shrine
Grand shrine of over 4,000 Kumano shrines in Japan

Tori gate
Small shrine

Three story pagoda and Nachi waterfall

Nachi waterfall - highest in Japan at 133 metres
Picnic area where I ate...does it get better?

Incredible Bento box lunch prepared by Minshuku Momofuku

So that's it for what has been an unforgettable walk and experience on the Kumano Kodo. 

Tomorrow I leave for a few days in Tokyo and then home sweet home! Here is what awaits me in Tokyo!

Rose (grand-daughter on far right) holding hands with BFF Elizabeth in middle

Yonde kurete arigato!

Kumano Kodo (Mar 26, 2015) - Day 4 Ukegawa to Koguchi

Today was a very peaceful day of varied walking over 14 kms...quiet that is with the exception of one frightening incident...more later.

Last night's supper at the Minshuku Kuraya was considerably quieter than the previous night's. I had my own table

Supper - notice my sitting style!

There were 4 Japanese people seated a few meters from me...they spoke no English and likewise for me no Japanese. The only point of contact was when through hand gestures I indicated that I would take their picture with one of their cameras. In return they took my picture.

Supper was Japanese style with 13 small dishes served.

Dish with red was beef...cold and extremely tasty. Biggest challenge was fish in middle!

Fish with eating explanation in blog posting

I decided it was time to branch out and take my chances. I started with the section where the head was no longer there (thank goodness) and worked with way down to the tail. When finished nothing was left of the was tasty...I am still alive.

This morning's breakfast was tasty but to be honest simply not enough to last too long walking these mountain trails...I should have supplemented it with chocolate. I ate every last morsel of rice as I knew this would be good fuel for the morning.


An interesting display in the dining area

An interesting display

I then left to catch a local bus at 8:16 (thanks for the Minshuku owner who corrected the information I had been given!!!) where I met the young Swedish couple who were by this time experts on taking local buses. 

I knew in advance that the first 7.5 kms of the Kumano Kodo route this morning was a detour on a fire road. While unfortunate the detour was required due to a rockslide which covered a section of the Kumano Kodo in early March due to heavy rains. That's ok as a detour is better than being covered with rock!

The initial going was less than inspiring...I steeled myself for a long slog in the increasingly hot morning.

Not too inspiring!

The road became narrower over time and I fell into a familiar and comfortable rhythm which I had known when walking the Camino routes in Switzerland, France and Spain...I felt I could have been in any one of these countries. The fire road turned out to be asphalt which I find comfortable to walk on and while the grade was consistently going up it only took me 1.5 hours to walk this section or 5 km an hour. I was in my pilgrim gear.

Not too much to see however here are a few pictures...

The remainder of the Kumano Kodo trail was on quiet forest good a trail as you will find anywhere. I was dawdling as I knew that I would arrive way to early at the Minshuku Momofuku...basically in a meditative state when it happened! Yes a very dangerous animal!

Dangerous animal!!! A lizard!

 I almost jumped a foot as I came upon it and it in turn also moved quickly. I believe it was a lizard of sorts...almost certainly deadly poisonous...I made as wide a berth as possible on the path and motored past it...looking back over my shoulder for quite some time to ensure it was not stalking me. Finally after a few minutes I relaxed...all was ok...that was close though!

The balance of the walk into Koguchi was quiet...thoroughly enjoyed it...a few pictures:

Welcome lunch spot
Three rice cakes

One must be careful to stay on the trail!

Koguchi in the far distance
Another section completed!

Minshuku Momofuku - beautiful house, great hosts

No internet in this remote Japanese location so this blog will be delayed a day. Tomorrow is the final part of my Kumano Kodo walk to the temple Kumano Nachi Taisha. It is apparently the toughest section of the walk so far with an elevation gain of 800 meters over the first 5 kms of the total 14 km distance. Will take it easy and enjoy the last section of what has been a great walk.