Kumano-kodo Nakahechi from Chikatsuyu-oji to Tsugizakura-oji
The target for the day is to walk part of the Nakahechi to Tsugizakura-oji. So, leaving Kuchi Kumano michi no eki we drive to Chikatsuyu-oji. Here, we park in a large, free car park and set off to find the entrance to the Nakahechi route.
Nakahechi was one of the pilgrimage routes to Kumano Sanzan, the three main temples (Hongu, Shingu and Nachi) from Tanabe city. This was the official route for the nobility in Heian times.
(We walked another part of this route, from Gyubadoji ( michinoeki Kumano Kodo Nakahechi) to Chikatsuyu-oji on a previous trip.)
It is a wonderful, sunny day and I am hot in just a T-shirt and shirt. The walk, along the Nakahechi, in this direction is mostly uphill with long sections along tarmac road but here are no cars and the walking easy. Some stretches are through woods but there are also magnificent mountain views.
At Tsugizakura-ogi, there is a pleasant thatched rest house, Toganoki-chaya. Here we sit on veranda in the sunshine and have lunch. This place offers free green tea and gifts, of paper origami dolls, as well as views across the valley. The lady in charge is friendly and tell us most hikers on this section are foreigner, especially Australian.
Nearby, is a small shrine with some huge cedar trees, some showing lightning damage. An impressive now minor shrine, but of some importance in the past, perhaps?
We arrive back at the car around 2pm. after a pleasant round trip walk of around 8 kilometres on a beautiful day.
Kizetsu-kyo Gorge 奇絶峡
From Chikatsuyu-oji we drive back towards Shirahama and Tanabe to visit Kizetsu-kyo. Here we find a rather disappointing river and heavily wooded gorge. We are spoilt by the grandeur of Shikoku. There is a small shrine by a waterfall and if you climb up the path for 200 metres there is a Bodhisattva carved in the rockface. I thought this was some ancient work, but D. tells me it was created in Showa 41 so not very old at all.
Nearby, is a large boulder with an indentation that is reputed to be a giant’s footprint. The bottom of the barrel is pretty thin at this point. Nevertheless, a motorcyclist takes a picture of it.
＊In July 2019, prefecture R.29 near Kizetsukyo was closed due to a major landslide.
Minabeume Shinkokan and Mizu no Sato Hidaka River Ryuyu
Checking michi no eki, to spend the night, we look at Minabeume Shinkokan. This is a very odd place. There is a small car park but there is underground parking as well and it is almost in a junior high school. In fact, a bus pulls in and disgorges a school trip while we are considering our options.
We end up at Mizu no Sato Hidaka River Ryuyu michi no eki. We were attracted by its catchy name. This is deep in the mountains and the toilet primitive.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.