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Published: April 21st 2017
Day 9 Honmachi to Shimanto.
60km. 400m ascent.
What a great Ryokan we stayed in last night, with everything traditional and lovely Japanese food. I never seem to be amazed by the variety of meals and such wonderful tasty food. The soup is a real favourite of mine with the spring onions and tofu. Despite the ’bed’ being wafer thin I slept quite well last night and woke refreshed at 6am. However, some of our group stayed in a rather more basic Ryokan and were kept awake by smokers next door playing loud music. First stop our daily Temple stop with 575 paintings on the ceiling, including Marylin Monroe. At the Iwamatoji Temple we did the traditional washing of left hand, right hand and then the mouth before spitting out before we entered. Following this we rang the big bell, which continued its sound for several minutes, with a heavy lump of timber hanging on two ropes. This weekend is Boys Day and to celebrate this there are hundreds of plastic fish hanging from cables across the valley at one point and also from street lamps. The ride was easy at 60km with one small rise towards the end and
warm at 20 degrees. This valley is slowly moving into tea growing country with small plantations on either side of the river. I am also aware of all the different bridge designs and the lattice designs of the railway which crossed the river several times with often very graceful curves. There are also a few lower local bridges with no side rails and curved concrete edges to withstand the forces of floodwaters. The Azaleas are in full bloom and certainly enhance the roadsides along the way. It also seems to be a bus graveyard with two old buses at various points with engines out and bodywork falling apart. We followed the Shimanto River down a lovely narrow, quiet road into Shimanto before arriving at the hotel at 1.30. Lunch was had at a supermarket in town with a traditional Japanese restaurant and this was finished off with coffee and cake at the bakery. Whilst most people we see look healthy we often encounter old people bent over at the waist horizontally with their heads looking at the floor, unable to straighten up. Most likely caused by working the fields all their life and possibly dietary deficiency. Very upsetting. For a
change we have a proper bed tonight in a great hotel overlooking the river. We are expecting the Onsen to be a little larger when we get into it at 4pm, otherwise people will begin to talk. Some of the group were a bit bashful about the Onsen protocol at first but are now settled into it quite well and enjoying it.
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