Day 22: Taco or Is It Tako? (25 March 2019)

We started with a sunrise ceremony at 6 AM in the hondo of the temple where we staying. While chanting, the priest took precise rhythmic beats of the taiko drum. Drums certainly play a powerful role in raising emotions. The ceremony ended with a single strike of the alter’s sacred chime.

We left the temple in great spirits. Aoyama-san had a spring in his step that I had not seen before. For several days, he would comment that his feet were dame (bad). A day ago, we reached ma-ma, so-so. Now, we were at good at least at the start of the day.

About 4 miles into the walk, a voice came out of a house that we were passing. Ohenro- san, stop and have something to drink. This fellow had constructed a seating area for ohenro that included a small frig stocked with cans and bottles of various cold drinks. He would make hot coffee or green tea as well on request.

He was really helpful in talking through our next five days – what minshukus had good reputations, which business hotels had larger rooms. He also had timetables for the trains and buses. After an hour and several phone calls to make and change reservations, we were on our way.

A siren sounded off at the same time the one in our stomachs did. Noontime, hirugohan, lunch time but no places in sight. We came around the corner and saw a stand offering one of Japan’s favorite fast food, tako-yaki, fried octopus balls. That’s tako, not taco. No tentacles or bodies. They have been mashed up and blended with flour. 350 yen for a box, about $3.20. How about the VW van as part of the frontage to the shop?

Some people say timing is everything. We were now in search of the train station that would take Aoyama-san to our hotel. It was about three miles down the road. His feet had tired after 8 miles. No surprise.

The tako shop was right next to a bus stop. Buses stop there only three times a day. The next bus, the 12:52. It was 12:53. Did we miss seeing the bus as it passed by. We looked to our left down the road and then right up the road and up the hill that we had just come down. (Note – the Japanese drive in the wrong or should I say different side of the road.). There was the bus at the top of the hill.

We caught the bus and got to the train station just as the train was pulling in. The gates were down to prevent crossing the tracks when a train is in the station. The engineer saw us and the conductor came out to manually open the gate. Ayoyama-san was home free. Later, he told me that he caught the express train that eventually stopped 2 miles after passing the intended stop. However, that was better than the 7 miles that I still had left.

Before leaving the station, I took a quick break. Here is the first English misspelling that I have seen on the trip.

The remaining part of the walk seemed long. After walking 100 miles of coastline, the waves and rocks become all too familiar. I did pass some rice paddies that were being planted. The light was such that this patch was mirror-like. I am told that by May, tall grass fields of green will cover these patches. We’ll see. I’ll still be in Japan.

Just as I was nearing the hotel, I took this image with the faint mountains in the background. Aoyama-san and I will be there in two days. The most southernly point on Shikoku where Temple 38, Kongofukuji, is located. This panorama is what I saw out of my hotel window. The hotel, Umibozu, is named after a bald sea creature. As the story goes, when fishermen see an umibozu, they are in big trouble and probably drown. We didn’t at the hotel. Rather, we enjoyed another delicious dinner/breakfast and warm hospitality. I still can’t believe that the price was 6300 yen excluding my beer. That is about $58 including taxes, tipping not allowed. Highly recommended.

We will be traveling partly by train tomorrow because our next minshuku is 30 miles away. We’ll be walking half of that distance.

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