Japan 2019 Japan 2019 Main Nakahechi

Day 1: Kii-Tanabe to Tsugizakura

It rained heavily all evening and into the night, so it was going to be humid today – and it was. I had set my alarm for 6.30, in time for breakfast at 7.00 and the bus at 8.02 – the girl in the tourist office had been very specific that  it was 8.02, after I had asked for the 8 o’clock bus! The is the view from my hotel room this morning over Kii-Tanabe, you can’t see the mountains for clouds, and the Kumano Kodo route painted on a wall at the bus station.

I had time to buy some sandwiches for lunch and waited for the bus. In difference to the Japanese who stood in line, waiting for the bus, the other 20 odd non-Japanese, were not in line when the bus arrived.

The Jizo in the cave is placed there, according to the account given, because a husband and wife were at this spot on a pilgrimage, when she went into labour and gave birth. They left the baby at this spot, whilst they continued their pilgrimage. The baby was looked after by   a wolf until they returned.

There was an hours journey to where the Kumano Kodo starts at Takijiro-oji. Half the foreigners and the remaining Japanese man got off the bus, walked over the bridge, turned left and passed the … well there wasn’t really anything to indicate you are about to start the pilgrimage.

It’s a tough start, 300m up in 1,1 kms. To make matters worse it was extremely humid after yesterdays rain, and there was still water on path, not least making the parts of the trail with stone, extremely slippery.

Although “only” 16,8 kms, plus a couple of unintended detours, today was a tough day with several steep climbs and tough descents.  Added to that I carried my pack, ca. 9 kg plus water. I’m best walking up, and always a bit nervous walking downhill. Whether it was my nervousness or a very slippery stone stretch, or a combination of both, I don’t know, but despite being careful, my feet slipped from underneath me and I ended on my back. Luckily I wasn’t more than a bit shaken.

Whilst the book states that one should expect the journey to take between 8 and 11 hours, I was outside the Minshuku I had booked, less than 6 hours after starting, and before they opened. The cloudy morning turned into a beautiful afternoon, so after a shower, I am sitting and enjoying the view and good weather.

Todays leg was almost entirely in the forrest, with panoramic views at the tops and rivers, waterfalls and very tall trees at the bottom. I met two groups, one from Holland, the other from the UK, and solo walkers or couples from Japan, Spain, Belgium and the UK. I met a Japanese walker, who passed me when I stopped for a break, and I passed him when he stopped. All in all 8 times. Unfortunately he didn’t speak any English.

The couples from Belgium and Spain are staying at the same place as I do. The owner is a chef, and the was food excellent – an 8 course dinner!

In total, 17.2 km today and 1042 m ascent and 682 m descent.

Leave a Reply

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