Last nights camping passed without incident and, given that I’m a light sleeper, I’m amazed I managed to get a few hours decent kip. As you may have guessed, I’m trying to alternate nights under canvas with those indoors (weather permitting).
The Soemimizu Henro Trail the path climbs steeply up to 400m through the woods before levelling off at the ridge line. The trees here were quite dense and I found myself walking through countless fresh spiders webs. I tried to use my wooden staff to fend them off but to no avail. The day was off to an icky start.
After 5km I reached the Nanako-tōge Pass where the trail continues through rice fields and along roads parallel to the single-track rail line. Every time I see a train I wonder how long it will take me to get where it’s going.
Along this stretch, I met a henro dressed completely from head to toe in a spotless white getup with matching bags and accessories. He reminded me of a less talkative Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.
While walking through the small village of Niida I heard a voice call out “henro-san” from a nearby house. I was invited into the garden of Ishizaka-san who runs a nice rest spot called Hu Ji Yuu An (風自遊庵). The Tin Man was already there and we enjoyed ice cold mint water and some snacks together. Afterwards, I left a short thank-you message in their notebook.
Since I hadn’t had a proper meal yesterday I stopped for an early lunch at a nice looking cafe/restaurant at around 11am where I had a delicious vegetable curry and some fresh yuzu juice. Yuzu (similar to grapefruit) is grown all over Shikoku.
2km later, just before Iwamoto-ji (岩本寺 – 37), I walked past an old antique store which had a weird array of vintage Japanese and western toys. Shikoku is the land that time forgot.
After putting my pack down at Iwamoto-ji I suddenly began to feel extremely tired so finished the usual routine fairly quickly and continued towards the minshuku I had booked for the night.
There was another nice wooded section called the Ichinose Trail and if you follow the map in the English book, rather than the signs, you can bypass a large part of the main road beyond it.
Arriving at the minshuku around 3.30pm I was a bit disappointed to find a rather run-down old house. It irks me that the good minshuku are the same price as the bad ones and there isn’t any way to know which is which without word-of-mouth info. However, the old gentleman running the place was kind enough and I’m glad for a roof over my head tonight.
Distance walked: 32 km / 42,000 steps
Temples visited: 37
Overnight lodgings: Hirota (民宿広田) – Minshuku