Iseji Japan 2019

Day 16: Owase to Kata

I’m writing this feeling very sorry for myself. After a hard day I was looking forward to having a bath. I was sitting on at the station and the train pulled up, a bit early, but sometimes they need to wait for a train coming in the opposite direction, the train was on platform one, where my train should also depart and going in the direction I assumed I was going.

It was the wrong train! It was going back towards where I started this morning. It took me 2 or 3 stops to realise and ended getting off somewhere with a platform and three chairs, and more than hour before the next train in the right direction! Oh well – I have now seen the sun set over Owase.

I got a good nights sleep, up at six, breakfast at seven and on the road by eight. The owner of the Ryokan gave me an orange when I paid the bill, and even told me I had to take the peel off first. This place is (also) highly recommended, 160 € for two nights with fantastic food, included. just don’t understand that people think Japan is expensive.

As I had a bit of time I walked to the beach to have a look, before walking to the bus stop for the bus back to Owase where yesterday ended.

I got off at a supermarket and bought some water and two tempura sticks for my lunch – I had an apple from yesterday and now also an orange. I gadd planned to to buy some  strawberries or grapes, but fruit is very expensive – 1,5€ for an apple, 2,5€ for nine strawberries or a small bunch of grapes!

The route zig-zags out of Owase and was almost impossible to follow. After passing an oil refinery, I started the ascent of Mount Yakoyama, 650m ascent.

Despite it not being the biggest ascent I have tried during this trip, it is certainly one of the toughest. There are 63 markers on the route, and it is OK up to number 16, but then it just goes up, 600m in 2,5km, and it was stone steps pretty much all the way. It took me 1hr45m to get to the top, but before getting to the top, I wondered whether they would ever stop. They just kept on and on. It was an odd kind of scenery as there were boulders strewn everywhere and many had a rounded shape.

It was 12 o’clock, so I decided to eat lunch and enjoy the view over Mikisato, unfortunately it was a bit hazy. I was weary of being attacked by a bear – there were plenty of beware of the bear signs.

Going down wasn’t easier, many places ropes were installed so you hold on to the rope and hopefully minimise the risk for a fall. It was just as steep going down, and I managed it in 2hr30m.

It was hard work up and down, but amazing to think that they have laid these stone pavements up over mountains. However, there were many pilgrims that didn’t make it as the many gravestones along the route witness. At times there was a gravestone at every turn in the path. Local people gave the pilgrims a proper burial.

At the bottom, I walked through Mikisato, which looked more exotic from the top of the mountain than in real life.

I had barely had time to walk normally, i.e. stretch my legs, before the next two passes, Miki-toge and Hago-toge, that follow the Kata-wan bay, first south, then west. These paths pass a number of stone walls built by farmers over 300 years ago, to keep wild boar from destroying their rice paddies. There were occassional nice views over the bay. Luckily the passes were only 120 and 140m high

If you click on the picture below, so you get a bigger picture, depending on device, you can see how the tree roots have grown around the boulder.

I bought an ice cream and some water, as the liter I brought with me wasn’t enough and I was feeling a bit dehydrated.

At the station I had to wait 45 minutes for the teain to Odomari, halfway between Kata where I start tomorrow, and Shingu, where I where I finish on Sunday. I am staying at a hotel overlooking the coast. The hotel is ca. 1km from the station, and I had hoped, as it is pitch black here, that there would be a taxi. I was the only person getting off and the station is so small, that there was no hope of a taxi. So with Google maps on one phone and the tourch on the other, I eventually made it to the hotel, had a quick shower and am waiting for dinner.

Another guest at the hotel came with a glass of Sake to me a good trip – totally out of the blue. I then couldn’t get a beer because it was after last orders.

From Owase to Kata is 22km, I walked 26km in total, 772m in ascent and 769m in descent.

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