Iseji Japan 2019

Day 15: Furusato to Owase

For the third time during the trip I didn’t need to carry my backpack today, as I return to the Royokan I stayed last night. I haven’t at any time felt that the backpack has been a burden, and I didn’t walk any quicker because I was only carrying a day pack. I started the day seeing this VW parked in a driveway in Furusato – it doesn’t look like a familiar model.

As is becoming the norm, I wake up at 6.00, breakfast at 7.00 and leave around 8.00. Todays walk is 26km to a fairly large town for the area, Owase, and I need to pass three tops, at 113m, 147m and 325m. I also have a deadline, as I need to catch bus 51 back to Furusato at 16.22, otherwise I’ll be late for dinner.

Breakfast was fine, miso, grilled fish, pickles, rice, onsen tamago (soft boiled egg in vinegar/soya). Normally one gets a spoon with the onsen tamago, but it was missing so I tried to eat it with chopsticks, which was a disaster. I ended up pouring it over my rice.

The first part of todays walk was along the coastline, with great views of the islands that lie along the coast. The first pass, the Hajikami-toge was an easy climb, and I collected a stamp and wrote a few words in the book. The view is fantastic.

At the bottom there was a small shrine, which I duely visited, before continuing along the coastline to the next pass, the Hajikami-toge pass.

On this pass there are two ways to reach the top, either Edo and Meji routes. The Meji route follows a road to the top, whilst the Edo route, which I  took, goes up and down the mountain. The Edo route is harder but one saves 3-4 kilometers walking.

The picture above shows that this trail is designated UNESCO World Heritage, as are many of the passes on the Iseji. Here again there was a great view of the islands in the sea of Kumano (I have learnt it is not the Pacific yet).

I finally met somebody else on the trail, not a fellow walker, but 2 groups of school children – 30 kids and 6 adults.

At the bottom, one again follows route 42, and some smaller roads running in parallel, where you walk through the village.  The pictures above depict a sleepy village, and signs outside houses where children live – I suppose to encourage people to drive slowly. Below a  different home than the norm on Japan.

There isn’t much to see between the passes today. If the bus times fit, one could take bus 51 from the end of the Hajikami-toge pass to the start of the third pass, the Magose-toge pass.

At the start of the climb there is a statue dedicated to Crying Children, where parents come and pray if their children cry when being put to bed.

Pretty much the whole way to the top, the stone pavement has been preserved. Here you get a real feeling for what it was like being a pilgrim – and they were wearing straw sandals, not high-tech Salomon walking shoes. It’s no wonder that this stretch is on UNESCO World Heritage list.

I met two more groups of school children walking down the stone pavement – 20 kids with 6 adults. The view at the top was nothing special, one needed to walk a further 200m up to get a view over the coast. I passed.

There is also a stone path on the way down, but no where near as complete as on the way up. I needed to be carefull on the way down, as the stones were slippy. There was a view point about 75% down, with a view over Owase.

At the bottom there is a sign to a shrine and waterfall. About 200m into the forest and there was indeed a shrine next to a small waterfall.

At the bottom of the pass there was a cemetary along the road that stretched several hundred meters.

I was in good time for the bus and managed to buy something to drink, before riding back to Furusato, pretty much along the road (route 42) I crossed many times during the day.

Back at the hotel at 17.00, I bathed in the hot water bath and had an excellent dinner, different than yesterdays. I fell asleep at 9.30, and only managed to finish, after today’s walk, whilst waiting for the train.

To round off, the man hole cover for Owase.

Totals today were 26km, 613 ascent and 600 descent.

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