5/15 – A beautiful, sunny day for a hike. We stopped in at the Cultural Center at the beginning of today’s walk, and discovered an old, familiar friend – the Camino shell! Turns out that Tanabe and Santiago de Compostela are sister cities; each hosting a pilgrimage.
Today we saw some beautiful mountains:
Serene wooded paths:
And little shrines along the paths:
Beautiful trees and flowers:
We saw the cultivation of tea:
We walked through an area known for folk wood carvings, which were displayed in front of many houses.
We knew we were near Yunomine Onsen when we could smell the sulphur in the air. A natural hot spring runs through the town, and we are staying three nights at small guesthouses right on the spring, with deep hot-water baths. A new experience!
5/14 – The Takahara Lodge is famous for being the place to witness the Mist on the Mountain. What wonderful grace that the mist greeted us when we arose in the morning, right outside our bedroom window!
Within in a half hour, the sun was up, and the mist was gone.
After a wonderful breakfast that included eating a whole fish – eyes, tail, little bones and all – we set out for our day’s walk. Two couples from Australia kept us company for part of the way. We passed flooded fields with newly planted rice seedlings.
The trail was shady and wooded for most of the day.
There were musical streams:
And we stopped to admire the many small shrines and statues called Jizo that lined the trail. Jizo are bodhisattva who protect travelers, women and children.
By mid afternoon we arrived at our new home, the Nakano Guesthouse.
Here we got a taste of true Japanese living. Of course, we removed our shoes at the door, and were given a pair of house slippers. The slippers had to be removed at the door to our room, as only bare feet walk on the tatami mats. When using the bathroom, special bathroom slippers must be worn. It got confusing pretty quickly. I’m sure I offended within minutes of our arrival. This was our room.
After sitting on the cushions to have some tea, we moved the table aside and pulled our futons out of the closet to make up our beds. I’m too old to sleep on the floor! The little pillows were hard and filled with beans. We had a traditional supper, also sitting on the floor. We chatted with Jenna from Canada, a young girl traveling solo. After about 20 minutes my legs fell asleep, but the food was wonderful!