Shikoku 2018

Day 8: Hiwasa to Mugi

Really I should have called this Hiwasa to Mugi – the hard way. But more about that later.

The guest house is run by a Frenchman, married to a Japanese lady. He has lived in Japan for 45 years. There are 4 rooms he lets out, and last night it was full, with one Japanese gentleman, two Danes (# 4 and 5 I have met), two Swiss and myself. The funny thing was that 4 of the 6 spoke Danish, as the Swiss gentleman also spoke some Danish.

I had a bad nights sleep. It rained and was windy throughout the night, so it wasn’t a good night to stay in a Japanese guest house with loose shutters and windows. Due to the rain I couldn’t go anywhere, so I was in bed by 9 ‘o’ clock. Between 9 pm and 2am, I must have been woken 20 times by the noise caused by the storm. Finally I put my headphones on, heard some music and fell asleep, waking again at 4am to remove them again. By then it had stopped raining and the wind had also died down.


Today was a big day, a day I had been looking forward to – the stretch from Hiwasa to Mugi is supposed to be one of the most spectacular, if not the most spectacular of the whole trip, but a stretch that very few people see. From temple 23 there are 85kms to the next temple, so instead of taking the coastal road, almost everybody takes the shorter main route, which is inland – route 55 – and here there is next to nothing to see, apart from cars wizzing by.


There was therefore with some concern on my part when the owner announced, “it will rain until noon”. Luckily it didn’t!, and I was on the road by 7am – it was humid, cloudy and a bit cold. I stopped off to buy a sandwich and cup of coffee for breakfast and set off, uphill again, along the coastline.

Actually there are three Shikoku 88 temple routes, that mostly run together, but occassionaly, as here follow different routes. There is the official route, the historical route and the scenic route – today I was taking the scenic route.


First stop was the castle in Hiwasa and then 8km in very, very hilly terrain along different cliffs overlooking the sea. There were some very spectacular views over Hiwasa, different islands and coves, and the Pacific. Unfortunately, it was misty, so the pictures don’t do it justice. It was really hard work along paths that went up and down continuosly and at times a bit slippery dues to the past days rain.


When I finally made it to the main road again, I was an experience richer and tired. Although only reaching 245m over sea level, with all the ups and downs I felt as tired as walking to up temples 12 and 20.


When I reached the road, there were still 14kms to Mugi, along the coastal road with 10 photo points looking over the coast – and these were equally spectacular. During the 14 kms no more than 20 cars passed by – so despite it being up there with Highway 1, it isn’t exactly a tourist magnet. But if anybody is planning to do the Shikoku, spend an extra night in Hiwasa and do both parts of the coastal route – the first without a backpack!


I reached Mugi at 14.15, six and a half hours after leaving the family store after breakfast, walking 26km. The next train was at 3pm, so I had time to visit the local market and buy a shrimp sandwich – Mugi, like Hiwasa and many of the other towns along the coast is a fishing port, but I am not sure if they fish shrimp. It tasted good anyway.

Back at the guest house by 4pm, I decided to visit the local onsen, with indoor and outdoor bath overlooking the Pacific. Before you can enjoy the warm water bath you need to be 100% clean, which by Japanese standards means wahing yourself for at least 15 minutes, before entering the bath. It was very relaxing in the warm water, not least looking out over the Pacific in the outdoors part of the bath.


I had borrowed a bicycle to cycle to the onsen, which is part of a hotel overlooking the town. Of course the bike was too small, and even when the saddle was up as high as it could, I still felt that my knees would hit my chin. I was careful to keep to the left, but when coming back, after the bath, I completely forgot, went around a corner and just missed a car in the same lane as I was. First I wondered why he needed to cut the corner, then I realised that I was in the wrong – not good!

Tonight the French owner told me the exact rules for shoes in Japanese homes, shoes on cement, never on wood or mats. There should also be slippers to change into, in the bathroom.

For dinner I had Japanese curry with a lamb chop. An odd combination and it wasn’t very strong. But now I have at least tried it.


No temples today, so still 23 temples visited and with todays 26 kms, I have now walked 156 kms on the route and another 49 kms off the route. I will take the train tomorrow, to temple 24, but if was walking, there would still be ca. 65kms to temple 24!

Leave a Reply

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