I’ve left Sandrine behind at Cape Ashizuri because she has to return to France for work. Last night’s accommodation was rough (Hatto) but somehow she has booked herself into the Onsen for less money for two more nights.
I am now heading for Temple 39. I decided to take the coastal path rather than backtrack all of yesterday’s route. it makes sense to continue walking around the island rather than reversing for a day. I think in the fullness of time when I’m back home with good food etc it will seem to be the best decision. At the moment the other options which get me to Temple 39 one day earlier seem more attractive.
I had the most magnificent walk around the cape this morning. Ahead of me was the 1.6km Matsuo tunnel. I had made a note in my map book that the Matsuo tunnel is the worst on the pilgrimage. People on the internet spoke of pitch black darkness, being pressed against the wall as trucks passed within centimetres and worse. My plan B was a long steep path over the hill.
Somehow I missed the tunnel and by the time I realised my mistake I was well on my way over the top. I decided to continue but eventually the path ended with no obvious way down. I was stranded. But minutes later I was whisked back down to the start of the tunnel and all the way through it.
A kind man who saw me heading towards the abyss met me on my return, put me in his van and drove me back down and through the tunnel. Actually the tunnel was lovely. I would have preferred to walk through it. But I walked over it and rode through it. If you plan to walk Shikoku 88 and don’t know Japanese, it’s good to know how to say thank you, Arigatou gozaimasu.
My walk continued and was extra special. The little harbours along the coast are for fishing fleets; no pleasure craft here. I passed a smoking facility which smelt of smoked fish. Delicious. Everywhere fishermen were repairing their nets or putting out to sea. There is something very special about fish and the Japanese culture. So many Japanese novels feature the sea. Who can ever forget the film of Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, with Kris Kristofferson and Sarah Miles, back in the mid 70s?
Amazingly, the village had a large supermarket and so I did a weekly shop and gorged on fresh milk, grapes, 4 mini croissants and fresh pineapple.
As I walked out of the village a car pulled up and a happy lady driver shouted o settai and a lady in the back handed me some nuts. How wonderful.
My lodgings tonight are very rural, right on the beach. Tatsukushi-en, not recommended but probably no worse than the hotel next door which kindly sold me beer as my host only has alcohol free beer.
Across the bay there is an interesting tower standing in the water with an underwater observation room. I should have made the effort but instead I visited the large aquarium nearby. In a way it was impressive but all the animals looked very sad, especially a pair of sea turtles, trapped so close to the huge Pacific Ocean. It’s not fair.