Day 23 – Cash is Emperor

If you’re used to paying for your cappuccino with a slight flick of your Apple Watch you’ll struggle in Japan. Forget about Apple Pay or even your contactless credit card. This is the land of cash. Every night I peel off 7000 yen notes for my beer, board and lodgings and every 3 or 4 days I take 30,000 yen from the ATM in a convenience store.

Except yesterday. The ATM was not in a Settai mood. “Card declined – contact issuer”. Same thing today. I always carry a little emergency stash of cash and several ATM cards so I wasn’t too worried and the problem turned out to be a group of ATMs which didn’t accept foreign cards despite their English instructions.

Today I walked another 31 Km down the coast of the south west peninsula and tomorrow I’ll reach the very tip and Temple 38. I mostly followed the road but it was peaceful enough for Shikoku nature to intrude. Butterflies are everywhere. Giant juicy colourful butterflies. I wish I still had my Sony camera but I buried it with full pilgrim honours after it died in the first typhoon. Now I’m stuck with my iPhone and its old fashioned 4×3 sensor. Come on Apple, it’s a wide screen world.

Fortunately I had a very patient butterfly which didn’t seem to mind being almost squashed by an iPhone. Everywhere nature is on your doorstep. The birds in the woods make the most outrageous sounds as you walk along. Giant centipedes hide in the leaf litter and dragonflies are always fluttering about whenever there is water. And you soon become immune to the graceful herons, egrets and huge birds of prey hanging above you. I have passed several whale museums and whale watching points.

The Japanese have a very long and close association with whales. The wild boar is almost mystical here but the population is expanding and it’s being hunted. I hate to see the traps in the woods but I would also not want to see a wild boar either.

There was another long tunnel today, the Shin-izuta at 1.6Km. I generally love them, providing there’s somewhere safe to walk. It’s a break from the sun and easy walking. But if you prefer the open air, there is a path straight up and over the hill.

After some early shocks the accommodation has been really good. Tonight it is the Camellia Lodge. The owners are beach loving carefree people who only charge 3000 yen including a curry dinner and breakfast. I get a bed in a nice modern single room. I declined the breakfast but he produced a bag of croissants from the Lawson store opposite so I graciously accepted.

Tomorrow is another milestone, Cape Ashizuri, the most southerly tip of Shikoku. I may stay a couple of days if it looks fun. Or I might push on. Time is not of the essence.

Small scale farming
A reassuring sign pointing straight down the peninsula
These wonderful pilgrim huts pop up every couple of hours and are a welcome rest spot.

Bus stop.
Short cut
The Shin-izuta tunnel, 1620m
Not the place to linger in an earthquake

10 comments on “Day 23 – Cash is Emperor

  1. Mandy has been spotted regularly in Bond Street since you left, not sure that has anything to do with your card problem 😉

  2. Roger Clarkson

    A picture of a boar would be interesting, have you got a plan if you do confront one?

    • It’s probably best not to confront a wild boar.

      • David Rose

        Always a wise rule-of-thumb: run away BEFORE tweeting about it. 🙂

  3. It sounds like the pilgrimage in Japan is pretty safe and you don’t have to worry about being robbed like you might on the Camino. I would hate to be carrying that much cash with me all the time. one of my biggest worries before starting the Camino was that I get in the middle of nowhere and not have access to an ATM or cash! But I imagine had that happened, the Camino would have provided. ☺️

    Now that the typhoons have passed, has the weather cooled off any?

    • Hi DJ, Japan is very safe and people are more likely to give pilgrims money than steal it. The challenge when walking here, just like the Camino, is that it’s a cash economy and you are stranded without it. The convenience stores accept cards but few others do. There are plenty of ATMs but not many accept foreign cards so you have to check ahead for the location of these stores and hope the ATM works. There are all sorts of daily limits on withdrawals as well so it’s best to carry an emergency stash of cash.

    • And it’s still super hot 29 degrees yesterday. It can’t last much longer

  4. Vicky Williamson

    Kia Ora Tim, I am enjoying your blogs. On a practical note, do you have a bladder in your pack or are you carrying water bottles? I guess that you aren’t carrying a sleeping bag so what is the weight of your pack? Are there items you wish you have with you? It’s interesting that Japan relies so much on cash when it is generally considered to be a technologically advanced country! Which route do you plan to take to T39, Enkoji? Ki o tsukete, ganbatte, Vicky

    • Hi Vicky, I carry a bladder but in Japan you can save weight by buying drinks at vending machines so I’m only using bladder in most remote parts. I have sleeping bag liner for some accommodation which is not so clean. Pack is 6.5 Kg without water. Go as light as possible. Had I known how strong the sun is after nearly a month I would have brought my solar umbrella. I think Japan was strong on hardware but not software. Lots of contributing factors. They launched an electronic payment system earlier this year and it was hacked immediately and subsequently closed. Says it all

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