Time to say goodbye to Koyasan. We were scheduled to leave at 10:24 am but after being woken up too early for a 7:30 am breakfast there was no point in hanging around. To be honest we were up at 5:30 am and at 6 am there was no way of getting back to sleep as the drums were banging and this went on for half an hour. Then at 7:30 am the smiling, gregarious monks came charging in with another seven course breakfast. So we just packed up and walked across the courtyard to the main office. Don was ages checking out. He said that the head monk was writing out invoices by way of the most amazing calligraphy. Fortunately as we had paid ahead of time via the travel agent, when it came to Don’s turn the printed computer slip was ready!
We sat at the bus stop waiting for the bus and started chatting to a couple of travellers from the UK, Hampstead in fact. Then the bus came and we set off up the winding road to the cable railway station. Going down in the cable train car was more hairy than going up as you could see just how steep the mountain is.
Eventually (5 minutes) we were at the railway station. This time as we knew that we wanted reserve seats and that the train was only for passengers with reserved seats we upgraded our tickets before boarding. We followed the other passengers, and the sign, to the platform. There was a train in the station but the doors were only open on the opposite side. I was a bit suspicious that we were on the wrong side of the platform, when it was announced that the train standing on platform 3 was leaving. Everybody made a mad dash to the other platform to catch the train. Why they misdirected us to this platform in the first place is a bit of a mystery.
From Gokurakubashi we went to Hashimoto, where we changed trains to the Nankai - Koya line.
Don was following the route on Google maps. He kept saying that Google was reporting an accident and our train would be affected and that we should change. I said that we should see how far the train was going and then if need be we should change. There were signs up saying that trains were delayed by up to 30 minutes and the loudspeaker was broadcasting abject apologies. In the end our train ran all the way to Namba nearly on time. The trick there though was to find the Midosuji subway line. There were two other lines and these were clearly labelled. In the end we asked a young lady who actually led us to the escalator going to the right platform. At this point I have to say that we have never met such polite, personable and helpful people as the Japanese. Even if we didn’t ask for help we were approached to see if they could help us.
When we reached our platform the train was running two minutes late and again the loudspeaker was apologising profusely for a two minute delay!
When we arrived at Shin-Osaka (we later discovered that shin = new) our ticket for the Shinkansen was for the 13:25 train and we were two hours early. No big deal - we went to the Shinkansen ticket office and changed our ticket for the next bullet train without any fuss nor additional cost.
We arrived at Hiroshima station. Our hotel was the Sheraton Grand which was part of the station complex. Once we were settled in our room I took a nap. We then decided that as I hadn’t walked enough we should make use of the gym. The free weights were a bit too heavy for me to use and so I walked on the treadmill whilst Don did some free weights and exercised on other equipment.
We went into the club lounge and I had a gin and tonic as an aperitif before deciding to have a piece of grilled fish in the lobby restaurant. What appeared on a plate was nouveau cuisine at Tokyo prices (even though this was Hiroshima) but it sufficed for our dinner. We then went up to our room and had an early night. We have a full day’s touring tomorrow.
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