Japan 2019 Nakahechi

Day 9: Hongu to Koguchi

Today was a really short hike, 13 km plus a couple more to get to the trail head at Ukegawa. Despite todays highest point being 466m, elevation gain only 670m and loss 690m, my legs just didn’t want to walk today, so it felt like hard work.

I’d ordered breakfast for 7.00 as I was sure the two kids in the next room would be up and about early. It was a good choice as they and their parents had ordered for 6.30, so I was awake before 6.00. Breakfast was also excellent, just as dinner was yesterday.

As the bus didn’t leave for 45min, I decided to walk the ca. 2,5km to the start of the trail. A lot of people are camping, and I passed a camping site with camping Japanese style, which is most likely exactly the same as camping in Europe.

The trail started with a climb over 5km, up and down for the next 4km and then downhill for 4km.

As the highest point was less than 500m, instead of over 1000m as on some of the previous days, the vegetation was a lot more abundent and green. In addition, there were lots of birds singing, lizards running around and what I imagine were cicades making a lot of noise.

There were a number of poet markers along the route, shown in the picture above. I am not sure whether they tell a poem or encourage you to write one, I think the first.

I met two older Japanese gentlemen for the second time. The first time was at the hotel in Omata on day 5 where they were eating at the next table to me. The highlight of the day was the magnificent view at Hyakken-gura – a sudden opening in the forrest.

On todays trail there was a statue of a Jizo perched on many pebbles. Below the picture and description of what it represents.

I was down in the valley by 12:00 and had 1km to walk to where I am staying tonight. I bought a bar of chocolate and my favorite drink in Japan, Pocari Sweat, which on the decleration states “Pocari Sweat is a healthy beverage that smoothly supplies the lost water and electrolytes during perspiration. With the appropriate density and electrolytes close to that of the human body fluid, it can be easily absorbed into the body”. Must be some smart Marketing guy that thought up that text!

Tonight I am staying in an old school building, where the school rooms are now bedrooms, and dinner is served in the old canteen.

The dinner was not very good, certainly the worst in Japan this time. On saying that, it was also nice not to eat a traditional Japanese meal again this evening after 9 consecutive days.

Tomorrow is a big day, the length of the walk is pretty much as today, but the ascent is 1.260m and descent 930m, so twice as much up and down as today. I hope my legs are on form. Then there is the added pressure that I need to be on a train at 17.25 – the last train of the day. We’ll see how it works out, as I have no plan B.

Despite me being tired on this leg of the walk, I have no doubt that it would, taken together with the Hosshinmon-oji to Hongo (7km, and one can get to the start by bus), be a fantastic way to get a feeling for what Kumano Kodo is, without having to climb over 1.000m.

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