Somewhat confusingly, as well as the henro pilgrim trail, there is also another called the Shikoku-no-michi route around the island. Both are shown in the English guide book and often overlap.
Today was a fairly straightforward 36km walk down to the coast and then along it and, instead of the henro route, I followed the Shikoku-no-michi because it provided a much more scenic path along the back roads instead of the highway.
This turned out to be a good decision and I enjoyed a pleasant morning walking through fields watching the elderly farmers at work.
It also included going through the 100+-year-old Kumai Tunnel which didn’t have any lights and thankfully no cars either.
Shortly after reaching the coast, I stopped for lunch near Tosa-shirahama station at the only restaurant in the area. Turns out it serves really tasty tataki donburi with udon.
Again, when I got to Cape Ino-misaki I followed Shikoku-no-michi so I could avoid the road tunnel and enjoy the views. It added a couple of kilometres but was very worthwhile.
By 3 pm I had reached the Irino Pine Coast where I found a legit camping site to spend the night. You can book a spot at the nearby Bios Ogata michi-no-eki and they have an English-speaking staff member who was very helpful in explaining everything (including a helpful “if there’s an earthquake don’t run into the sea” tip).
He recommended an onsen in the Nest West Garden Tosa hotel nearby where I headed directly after setting up camp for a long soak. The 20-minute walk took me along the beach where many sun-scorched surfers were enjoying the waves.
Afterwards, I went back Bios Ogata to have dinner in their restaurant. Udon (again) with tempura. I’m really happy that I managed to avoid any combini food today!
I’ve found over the last couple of days that my mind has been wandering far more often than it has up until now. I think this is because I’ve become more confident in following the trail, judging distances and finding accommodation than I was at the start.
It’s been good to dig through old memories of my childhood and remember people/places/events that I’d almost forgotten. I finished today feeling rather nostalgic.
Kongōfuku-ji (金剛福寺 – 38) is still almost 50km away so I won’t make it there tomorrow but I have a nice place lined up to stay in-between which I’m looking forward to.
Distance walked: 44 km / 56,700 steps
Temples visited: None
Overnight lodgings: Tosaseinan Daikibo Koen Irinomatsubara Camping Ground (土佐西南大規模公園キャンプ場) – Tent