Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Golden Week Walk, 2014


It's become a tradition of mine to go for a nice long walk in the countryside during Golden Week, and this year was no exception. I walked a 4 day leg of the Iwami Mandala Kannon Pilgrimage. I have been calling it the Iwami 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, but apparently they added another ten temples and changed its name.

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The first day was the section from Kawamoto to my own villlage, and for logistical reasons 1 walked it in reverse. A good section was following the Gonokawa, a quite beautiful river, the longest in West Japan, but mostly unknown to anyone other than locals. The rest of the day was in and out of the mountains to visit a temple. In the mountains I found this wild boar skeleton. I had driven down this road less than 2 weeks ago and it wasnt there then, so it has been picked clean in a very quick time. It was quite a long day, clocking in at 35k of walking.

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Day 2 was from my village to Arifuku, an onsen resort in the mountains halfway between Gotsu and Hamada. For the first couple of hours I followed the Yato River and then went up Nagatani (Long Valley) before going over the pass and then following a tributary of the Uya River down to Arifuku. What was most noticeable was the damage from last summers storms. There were many landslides, embankments of the river washed away, even a bridge totally destroyed. A very pleasant 25k jaunt.

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Day 3 was Arifuku to Yasaka, much higher and further inland. Just outside Arifuku I discovered a couple of old style potteries that I hadnt known about before dropping into the main valley of the Uya River. Heading upstream I passed several tunnels and half-built bridges that were going to be for a rail line running from Hamada to Hiroshima. It never got built. At Kanagi I stocked up with food and drinks as for the rest of the day there would not even be a vending machine. For a few k I Had to follow the main Hamada to Hiroshima road, but soon cut off and headed across the mountains. I topped out at 450 meters before dropping down into Yasaka. I spent the night at a friends guest house. He is a hunter, so wild boar was on the menu for the evening meal, washed down with home made doburoku, the tastiest sake I have ever drunk. an exhilarating 35k walk.

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On day 4 I headed from Yasaka to Mito through sonme nice, remote country without a single vending machine for 25k. There were some serious ups followed by downs, but for some reason the older I get the less difficult I find it. At the top of one remote valley I found a wonderful mountain shrine. The tengai was old, suggesting they no longer do kagura there, but the shrine was still looked after. What I noticed most on this day was that Golden Week is pretty much a city thing. In the mountains people are far too busy to go off on mini vacations. There were many people working in the paddies. I mnet one old guy with a great collection of bamboo shoots he had dug out of the forest. I saw another couple picking wild food from the roadside, one man tending his bees, and another old gentleman pushing a wheelbarrow filled with firewood for heating his bath. I aarived in Mito Onsen as a festival was under way and enjoyed the reassuring beat of the kagura drums. Another excellent 27k walk.

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2 comments:

  1. Hard core walking there Jake...the boar for supper sounds a treat. Take best care

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very much enjoyed 'walking' with you on this course, thanks....

    ReplyDelete

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