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Published: April 16th 2017
Japan Day 3 Sakurai to Koyasan.
Stats, Ave speed 16kph, Ascent 1550m, Distance 73km - arrived at 4.15
Yesterday was easy on a relatively flat route. Today, by contrast, was fierce with over 1,500m of climbing but luckily in good weather again with a maximum of 27 degrees and sunny. Perfect for me. The day started by taking the 8am train to Sakourai and collecting our bikes there, having been transported by the van. Sauri, our young female guide, told us to get on the train on platform 1 and get off it at 8.29. Can you imagine that in the UK, predicting when a train will arrive to the minute? It was a very steady start passing quite a number of large sawmills and plenty of timber yards and timber merchants. The roads were relatively quiet and, as usual, we found very polite and considerate drivers. Eventually leaving the valley over the railway track we started our first ascent up the Imoga Toge Pass, a narrow road through a forest of fir trees which were as straight as a die. We did encounter a number of 6 wheeled tipper trucks on their way down which caused the up going cars
to dive for cover and, or reverse. The fast descent (well it was when I passed the slowcoaches) was just up my street with hairpin bends and no potholes. Almost at the bottom we had our tea break supplied by our guides. During this time some of the group hopped into the hedge to discharge their bladders only to find that we had stopped right next to a toilet block - Aghh! More steady miles through quaint villages and lovely manicured tree and gardens before stopping at a restaurant for a nice lunch for 1000 Yen (£7.50) - good value. We crossed over the wide river bridge and followed it for several miles and more sawmills before tackling our second big hill which got a few people walking in places. We encountered two very short tunnels, some steep sections and more hairpins than anyone would ever want to have nightmares about. It became mind over matter, helped by water and biscuits, to tame the beast without dismounting. Eventually just after the second tunnel the road flattened out, and I use this word in relative terms since there appears to be no such thing as a flat road in Japan. 4
km gutter on through the town of Koyasan littered with temples and monks walking along the street with wooden footwear consisting of a flat plank with two lateral bars of wood underneath, to make contact with the ground, and clip clipping like a horse. Up the road was our very own temple where we were invited to stay the night. Our room had 9 tatami mates on the floor, which is a measure of room size in Japan, with each mat being approx 2m x1m. Our beds were made up on the floor with a 40mm mattress and a quilt cover with a bean filled torture instrument for our heads to rest on. Again, I use the word rest rather loosely. I immediately dashed for the cupboard only to find blankets ,and no spare mattress, so I packed three of these underneath to create a more absorbent membrane between the floor and my poor body. Dinner was at 6pm in the dining hall with 60 others, squat on a cushion on the floor. Unfortunate I neglected to go to Yoga this last year and my legs went into spasm and my poor neighbour Phil lay prostrate on the floor. After eating the traditional meal we could then go to the Onsen in our Yukatas and turn our skin to the colour it was the minute we were born. Unfortunately the towels supplied measured only 2ft x 1ft so we had to more or less drop dry for the next hour. As you may expect, a monastery is a hive of activity after dark and so we were off to bed at 7.45 to prepare for another exciting day and praying that our micro towels would be dry for our morning ablutions.
Tot: 0.547s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 14; qc: 58; dbt: 0.0227s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
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