Today’s hike began at 7 am after a warm goodbye from the old couple who run Lodge Camellia (highly recommended).
Walking along the coast road I reached Ōki no Hama beach by 8 am and took a shortcut by walking across the gently curved beach where a bunch of surfers were out in force as usual.
Choosing to take the scenic route along the shore, the road dips down into a small fishing village where a large group of fishermen were loading their massive nets onto a truck using a crane (with usual Japanese precision).
When the rocky beach ran out I continued uphill into the woods via an overgrown but well-marked trail before meeting the road again.
I came across a group of old folk playing a game of what looked like croquet on a dusty playing field. You’d be amazed at just how hard these octogenarians were thwacking the ball!
Just before Kotohira Shrine, I passed a nice henro hut that someone has set up in their garden along the roadside. Walking pilgrims can stay for free.
4km later I discovered the bohemian Cosmic Country Cafe where the owner and dog were fast asleep in the shade. I forewent the advertised Indian massage and continued forwards 😀
I reached Cape Ashizuri, the southernmost tip of Shikoku, at 12.30 and met Masako (from Day 8) outside Kongōfuku-ji (金剛福寺 – 38). She had been in the area for the weekend so came over to say hi.
We had lunch together in a restaurant outside the temple and it was nice to catch up with a familiar face and have a chance to talk in full English sentences for a change!
After lunch, Masako took me in her car to visit Tōjindaba, about 15 minutes away. The area features enormous monolithic rocks nested together which are thought could possibly be remnants of a primaeval spiritual site. A number of artefacts have been unearthed nearby from the Jomon Period (around 5000 B.C.).
Returning to the cape we visited the picturesque lighthouse and took the steep stone steps down to an enormous cave arch hollowed out of the rock by the sea.
Having said goodbye to Masako, since I was going to camp tonight, I tried to find an onsen in one of the nearby hotels but all of them pointed me to a fancy-looking spa resort on the top of a nearby hill. Having time to spare I hiked up to Ashizuri Thermae and had a nice long soak in an outdoor pool overlooking the ocean.
Unfortunately, the spa’s restaurant was only open to staying guests and thinking that I might have to survive off snacks I began to walk towards where I was planning to camp.
Someone must have heard my rumbling stomach because on the way I came across a tiny old-fashioned diner in the middle of nowhere which happened to be open. I had katsu teishoku (breaded pork with rice and small veggie side dishes) while watching an old samurai movie on the screen above the counter.
On my way out the lady owner gave me a bag of yuzu fruits as osettai and wished me well on my way. I was so happy to have found somewhere so nice to eat.
In high spirits, with the sun setting over the mountains, I approached the hut I’m sleeping in tonight. Along the way, an old man had stopped in his car to check if I knew where I was going.
It felt like a lot of things had gone well and a bit of a momentous day since I’m now roughly halfway around the island (the temples are not equally spaced).
Tomorrow is likely my last dry day for the rest of the week so I’m feeling a bit apprehensive but if it’s not too heavy should be ok.