Tsugizakura – Hongu- Yunomine
Today was going to be gruelling! After discussing the course and various short cut options with our new travelling companions, Kumano Kudo John (his name not ours) and Des (and ex pat Aussie now living in London) we agreed that cutting the first 3.5km really wouldn’t achieve much as it was flat so decided to do the whole 22 km.
I would like to point out that 22km walking around the Tan is nothing like 22km up, down, up, down, up, down mountains. It was hard work. At one point I tripped on a tree root and branch but luckily managed to retain my footing. Even though the girls had charged ahead, it was nice to walk with other “pilgrims” who were travelling at my pace, and chat about Brexit, Trump, or other walks they had done, depending on who you were talking to. I walked for a little way with a Swiss/French couple (they had been on the road for 9 months and had come from India), a British couple and of course John and Des.
After leaving our ryokan at 7am and stopping for approx. 20 minutes for lunch (our provided bento box of three rice balls and some other undistinguishable packets of something) we finally arrived at the Hosshinmon-oji, the start of the downhill run.
Being one of most sacrosanct places for pilgrims to stop and wash away their collected sins, we felt we should pass through the gate and make a prayer. Jenny prayed for wine with dinner and something other than rice and raw fish!
We made it to Hongu and the world heritage Hongu Taisha Shrine at 2:30pm. Our plan was, after a look at the shrine, to get a few supplies in town (aka wine and snacks!) ad catch the 3pm bus to our ryokan so that we could spend the rest of the afternoon soaking in the onsen.
After a seamless check-in, it was great to take off the shoes and socks – for me, no wonder it felt good, I had managed to rip the toenail off my big toe, which must have happened earlier in the morning when I kick the root. That said, as soon as the boot was off, the swelling started. I will save you the trauma of seeing the picture! Wine and sake helped a little with the throbbing, but I was starting to worry about how I would make the next two days.
Falling into bed totally exhausted, I decided tomorrow will just have to take care of itself.