Back at Temple 11, as I was walking to my ryokan, a kind man called over to me, gave me an ice lollipop and marked a few accommodations in my map book which he recommended. And they’ve all been winners. The Farm Morian Loft at T12, Panda House at T22, Oyada Hiwasa at T23 and then Kurakukan Sakan owned by the musicians. He marked just one more at T28, Yuan. I looked at the map last night at T27 and saw that T28 was 35Km away. And the weather forecast was rain all day. But there was Yuan, waiting for me. I decided to go for it.
Today’s walk was therefore not a leisurely 20Km along the Camino stopping at delightful cafes and meeting new friends. It was head down, rain gear on and walking along miles of deserted Pacific beaches.
I set off at 6.30 having cancelled breakfast and knowing that a Lawson convenience store was just 10 minutes away. I grabbed a croissant and a hotto cafe latte and sat down in the store to eat it. One of the things you learn quickly in Japan is the art of eating on the go. You’re not allowed to eat while walking. Even on a pilgrimage.
There is not a single litter bin anywhere in the country. And of course you can’t drop litter along the road. To compound the problem, everything is packaged in a plastic bag with a plastic liner and then all the items are put in another plastic bag. Obviously NHK has not yet screened Blue Planet 2. So every time you buy something you must consume it at the point of sale and leave the coffee cup and wrappings with the merchant or keep everything for the day. The same applies at vending machines but I’m usually able to drink the entire bottle of ion replacement drink at one time or I carry the bottle to the next machine where it is accepted for recycling.
The highlight of my walk was Shikoku’s own high line. A former railway has been converted into a cycle way and winds its way for 15Km along the beach and between houses. Apart from the usual wildlife I was alone. Just me and miles of empty Pacific beaches.
I made a quick visit to Temple 28 and then found Yuan. It was like arriving at some kind relative’s house, all neat and tidy. “This is the toilet, this is the bath, here is the washing machine…”. Soon the deep bath was filled with hot water and my clothes were enjoying a turn in the machine.
After the bath, I asked the man if there was any beer (one of the first things I learned in Japanese). He chuckled and opened the door of a refrigerator. It was full of beer, nothing else. Heaven.
Dinner was really one of the best so far. They looked at me fumbling with the chopsticks and the challenge of two thin fillets of steak and said “hashi” (chopstick). I pointed to the chopstick stand and said hashi oki. They squealed with delight. It was like baby’s first word.