Iseji Japan 2019

Day 12: Ise to Tochihara

Now I remember why I enjoyed walking on Shikoku, because the landscape is varied, not just forest. I walked 28 km, and not least when I came to the outscirts of Ise, the scenery was fantastic. Empty roads.

I was up at 7 o’clock, breakfasted and finished yesterday’s blog – I fell asleep before I had finished last night. I left around 9.15 and the contrast to yesterday was extreme – the streets were empty. Today is the last day of the Golden Week, so many are travelling home, but so few out and about was a surprise. The first of todays kilometers took me through the city into suburbia and then agricultural suburbia before reaching the countryside.

The route was mainly along smaller roads. The first surprise of the day came at around lunch time when I passed a most beautiful shrine with 30 or 40 torii gates, one after the other and a beautiful and small main compound.

I carried on and arrived at todays one and only  part of the kumano kodo that has survived – the rest of the route follows as close as possible the original route, but now there houses, factories and roads in the way.

The original part of the kumano kodo is a climb up over 120m called the Meki-toge pass, primarily through a bamboo forest. There is a detour at the top for a great view over the countryside.

Once down, it seemed like everything changed – now I was in the real countryside that I remembered from Shikoku – rice fields and in this area lots of tea plantations, villages with traditional Japanese houses and beautifully looked after gardens. It was as though time has stood still here – it was stunningly beautiful, something that no picture can reproduce.

It was 25 degrees, but there were dark clouds on the horizon, so I wanted to make sure I made it to tonights Ryokan before the rain started. I arrived at the local sake factory, and considered whether I should see if one could visit. A car pulled up and a guy with a French accent asked me if I was planning a visit, no I wasn’t but yes I was considering seeing if there was any chance of a visit. He told me he lived in the village and visits were by invitation only. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and he told me to hop in the car there was something far more interesting at the local shrine. We drove for a couple of minutes, and behind the main hall was a magnificent view over the river and mountains.

We chatted about why he was in Japan, what he did and what he thought about Japan. He met his Japanese girlfriend/wife in India and is heavily into spiritualism. He was concerned that Japan was 50 years behind Europe and America in many areas, because it was so difficult to admit mistakes or lose face and because of the schooling system where it was impossible for normal people to get into University and because many school children are told that they aren’t good enough. He added that this continued into adulthood where it is difficult to build a relationship and many marriages are arranged. He said that he saw changes from the younger generations, but it could take years. He also felt that  a good place to start changing the culture would be by coming to terms with the past admitting that Japan’s aggressions ww2 were a mistake and not apologising for only to dispute the severity of many of the atrocities.

It was interesting to hear a perspective from a European living here, and it would have been interesting to hear more, but I needed to make it to Tochihara before the rain, which I did with 30 mins to spare. I also learnt that the trees that are light are not dying, this is normal for this type of tree. In a few weeks the leaves will turn dark.

There is one other person at the Ryokan, 65 year old retired Japanese gentleman who is also walking but will take 10 days, as he max can walk 20km per day. We had a nice conversation over dinner, showing each other pictures of our families, countries and places we have visited. His English was not great, but certainly good enough for an hour or so over dinner.

After dinner, the owner, who speaks fine English, dropped a bomb, they were closed tomorrow! I had booked for two nights so I didn’t have to carry my bag for the 32 km I had planned to walk tomorrow. Now I have no choice. He reserved a room for me, but after 28 km today, I wasn’t planning on 32 km tomorrow. Hopefully the rain will gave stopped.

A total of 28 km today, one or two off route, 218m ascent and 128 descent.Hopefully my legs are in just as good form tomorrow, as thay have been today.

1 comment Add New Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *