Iseji Japan 2019

Day 14: Ise-Kashiwazaki to Furusato

I had a great nights sleep. I’d already dozed of at 21.30 and despite waking up to change the side I was lying on, I slept until 6.30. The futon mattress is so thin, my hips hurt after lying on one side for a few hours.

The female owner of the Ryokan served breakfast. She spoke OK English and was interested to know about my family, Denmark and walking – so I showed her pictures from my phone. The breakfast was good and I was soon on my may. The owners banged metal on a stone as I left, to bring good luck, and stood on the street until they could no longer see me. This was an excellent place to stay.

The first few kilometres followed the Ouchiyamagawa river with beautiful views along the river and across the rice paddies. I saw lots of animals, including 3 monkeys, a handful of herons, squirrels as well as lots of birds and insects. After about 6 km one hits route 42, which apart from a couple of detours into sleepy villages, you follow until the 10 km mark, when it’s time to decide which pass to take.

[Not a great picture as the 3 monkeys ran as soon as they saw me, but you can see one of them centre picture, to the right for the lower white box].

One can take the easy Nisaka-toge pass, 2 hours and 30 mins, elevation 241 m, 7,5 km in length with a difficulty rating of 1 out of 4 or the more difficult Tsuzurato-toge pass, 4 hours, elevation 357 m, 9,5 lm in length with a difficulty rating of 3 out of 4. Both have stretches on UNESCO World Heritage. I chose the difficult.

The first two kilometers are along a road. There was a lady on a scooter delivering post. She drove up the driveway to the door, banged on the door, waited for the person to answer, give them their post and take off again on the scooter. It so happens that it took her the same time to do this, as it took me to walk from one driveway to the next, so five or six times she had to wait for me to pass before she could continue. She smiled every time.

The climb up Tsuzurato-toge was on a fairly wide path only the last few hundred meters were steep. At the top it was all worth it, a fantastic view towards the Pacific. I rested at the top, collected a stamp and wrote a few words in a guest book. When leaving I went up further instead of going down, and even though only 30 m higher, the view was even better, without any trees blocking the view. I carried on down, the path was steep and not always there, which is probably why they don’t want people to go that way. The downward descent was fairly difficult and whilst only 1,100m long, it took me longer than the ascent. Near the bottom the original stone path is still in place, and as it was dry, easy to walk on. The view at the top made it really worthwhile. There were very few entries in the guest book, less than 100  this year, I hope more make the trip up, than write in the book. Only 2 non-Asian entries, including mine.

At the bottom there was a 4km walk back to where the easy and difficult routes met. I made a detour to buy something to eat and drink – sushi and Pocari Sweat. Below, The pass seen from Kii Nagashima.

The town that could be seen from the top of the pass was Kii Nagashima. It looks like this town hasn’t changed for the past 50 years with very narrow streets and old houses. There are also two temples and a shine and a pedestrian tunnel, 573m long, so you don’t need to walk around the hill! One of the temples is a memorial to the victims of the Tsunami. The shrine has a giant camphor tree which is over 1000 years old.

After passing the Nagashima Ship Yard, I stopped for a coffee. I was feeling tired, which led to 4 wrong turns within the next hour – the GPS positioning on the app I am using to follow the route isn’t always exact, and I don’t always look too carefully.

The days last climb was over Ikkoku-toge pass, at 73m high not a great challenge, with a wide path through the forest – when I finally went in the right direction. There is a fantastic view over Furusato and the Pacific after leaving the forest.

I walked down into a sleepy fishing village, and turned up at the wrong Ryokan. The owner kindly walked me to the right one. It was almost 5 o’clock and it had been a long day, 30km, 316m ascent and 340 descent.

After a long hot bath, it was time for dinner, and what a dinner. 6 starters including liver, grilled fish, turbo shell, and black squid, as well as sashimi, sushi, beef and potatoes, assorted shrimp and shell fish and cabbage, pickles and cucumber on a slice of orange, (all on the picture) and after I had taken the picture, a full fish incl. head and bones – try removing bones from a whole fish with chopsticks – miso soup, chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), rice and  fruit.

Tomorrow should be an easier day. As I’ll be sleeping here tomorrow night, I don’t need to carry a backpack. I wonder if I get the same food.

On a final note, I’ve mostly seen vending machines with drinks and cigarettes, but never with eggs. There were 12 columns of eggs at different prices.

2 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Neil says:

    Now I am envying you…The countryside looks fantastic….30 Kms on Day 14…… You are a lot fitter than me…!
    Hope the weather holds ….And You have both Champions League Semis on Record……!

    1. Steven Bloom says:

      Unfortunately not. Two great comebacks. Spurs have been close to being knocked out throughout the competion.

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