Kumano Kodo, Day 3

I can hear it. It’s raining… Again. I look out to make sure. Yep, rain. I check my phone for today’s forecast. No doubt, rain.

Back to bed, knowing there’s no need to rush at all. I search the next two towns I’ll be in for some ideas. My mom sent me an email. My aunt died unexpectedly while in the hospital. It’s quite a blow and I feel guilty for not visiting at the beginning of my trip. I thought about it but opted for new places, thinking I’d go back another time. That’s life for ya.

The others are out hiking and I’m the only one being driven to Shingu. Stepping out of the van, it starts raining again and I remember that I left my umbrella behind at the hotel. It’s going to be that kind of day. Although I was thinking of replacing it, it’s still sad to know the umbrella got left behind after visiting so many places together in the past ten or so years.

There is a visitor’s center at the train station and I stop in for ideas. Nothing terribly exciting… Some beach towns but that does not improve the rain. The woman points out a couples places in town and so time to explore.

There’s a sign out front. Looks like they have a gang of mean crows, tengu.

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First I find myself at the foot of a stair case. The rocks are wet of course and I debate if I want to deal with my shoes. What else is there to do? There are walking sticks waiting for visitors. I oblige, slowly walking up the stairs. There’s more to the trail here but who knows where it goes?

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I spot the small shrine and the sacred boulder of Kamikura Shrine and make the final ascent. It’s not easy to find a church, so I say my prayers for my aunt here. I hear others approaching and walk down to the landing knowing they have come to pray. It’s their shrine after all. IMG_9812

Here’s the view:

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Walking down is worse than going up. The two men have finished and are moving faster than I, in dress shoes. Next point of interest is the remains of Tankaku Castle. There’s not much to see. The foundation has been converted to a park that offers views of the area. In the distance is the shrine I was at earlier. It looks much higher from here.

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In back is a wooden staircase leading down toward the river. Why not? About halfway down a leaf moves. What?! Looking again, I walk slowly. From the corner of my eye something moves. Inching closer… a crab? Up here? I notice there are several of them hiding among leaves and cracks in the rocks. So cute!

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At the bottom, I take some photos because I can’t get over the blue color of the water. I’m amused by photography because simple framing changes everything. Move the camera slightly more to the right and, oh, hello factory. I don’t know why this surprises me. I mean, Japan is as industrious as the next country.

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Circling back to one more stop– Kumano Hayatama Taisha. Tengu are popular here at least for the charms they sell. I kind of want one… On my way out I buy a bag of mikan (tangerines) instead.

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Shingu train station has tengu painted on the walls. I like the train station themes.

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The train takes me to Nachi Station, where I’ll take a bus to Nachisan and the hotel. I check my directions and find the stop in front of the station. The schedule shows I have to wait awhile so I look over the visitor’s center next door. When I come back out to wait for the bus, a guy walks over concerned that I need help. New theme: Japanese see foreigners outside of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara, and assume they are lost. It’s sweet and kind but sometimes I feel like a child. I point out the bus and where I want to go. See, I got this? This goes on a little while, confirming that I’m okay and know where to go.

On the bus, I go! The bus drives along switch back roads, higher and higher, eventually leveling out, to a one road town. I get off the bus to walk farther up the road to the hotel. It’s foggy and I love it. What I don’t realize until tomorrow morning, is that the waterfall is behind me. I couldn’t tell with the fog! 🙂

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At the hotel, I’m overjoyed to find my backpack waiting for me with my ceramics unbroken. Dinner will be served soon so I get settled in my room till then with tea.

Here’s dinner:

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There’s a lot of people here as there’s very limited choices at the end of the trail in Nachisan. Most of them are foreigners. I meet a few others who were hiking today. I mostly listen to their conversations, feeling left out that I didn’t hike much at all. It seems I made the right choice for today as one group said they had a hard time hiking in the rain. It was slippery in some spots and they opted to walk on the service road although it’s not a shorter route. Still disappointed as this was to be my nature time! Too many cities on my travels.

Some time after dinner, I use the baths. It’s very small but I have it to myself. I’m feeling rather low with the recent family news, all the rain and lack of company in general.

The sun will come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
There’ll be sun

Just thinkin’ about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow
’til there’s none

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