After a solid night’s sleep, we woke to drizzling rain which would quickly turn heavy. Zalie was up at 5:30am and had talked with the onsen Manager who advised doing the final walk in light rain would be fine, but it was unadvisable to do so in a downpour.
Andrea, Jenny and I had decided to catch a taxi to the highest point and walk down if the weather held however Zalie was keen to do the whole walk. The weather looked like it would hold until 9am so she headed off with Susan, an American girl who has been on the same organised self-guided walk, at 7am.
By the time we got to the bus stop for the 8:05am to head to Shingu, the rain became heavier and more persistent. Once we had arrived at Shingu, it was downright torrential!!! I seriously believe the rain was heavier than what we had experienced in Tokyo during the typhoon!
Grabbing a map from the nearby Information Centre, we set off in search of coffee. Walking with us were Bill and Lindy, a couple from Seattle. To give you an idea of how much water was on the road, Jenny was walking in front of me as a car came by, showering her legs in water.
By the time we arrived (after getting lost) we were all totally drenched. My NorthFace gortex jacket was doing as expected but it only came down to my bottom, so from there down, everything was wet. My pants are not waterproof and were sticking to me (like parachute material) and even though my hiking boots are gortex lined, even they were full of water!
After a warm coffee and semi drying out, we decided to forget about seeing the Nachi Taisha shrine and waterfall (for me, the highlight of the trip) and hoped we could see it tomorrow before heading back to Kyoto. Besides, the cloud was so low and the rain so heavy, we doubted we would be able to see anything anyway.
Cold and wet, we went straight to the station. The next train was 11:35am so we sat in the carriage, soaking the seats, and waited for 30 min. When the train didn’t leave on time, which was very unusual, we knew there was a problem. All trains cancelled due to weather!
Back to the Information Centre where they had only just finished wiping the floors of our puddles, to catch the next bus to Shingu. Another wait of 30 minutes and we were finally on our way.
Arriving in Kii-Katsuura, the last onsen for the tour, we headed straight to the pier where we were told a shuttle boat would transfer us to the hotel. We arrived around 1:30pm but the boats don’t start until 3pm. By this time, I was shivering uncontrollably but luckily a man on the pier called the hotel on our behalf and the onsen sent a car to collect us.
Check in isn’t until 3pm so we left our day packs at reception, grabbed a yukata (Japanese wrap, like we have been wearing at all the accommodation) and headed for the onsen. The selection of multiple baths is sourced by the natural hot springs under the island and they have carved bathhouses into the naturally occurring caves. It was wonderful to sit in this hot tub and watch the pounding waves and storm just outside the cave opening.
Feeling warm and semi human, we headed back to reception to connect to the Wi-Fi and wait for Zalie and Susan to arrive. The made it despite having to walk through ankle deep water in places, and they too were frozen to the bone and headed straight for the baths.
Our accommodation was quite stunning , with views out across the ocean, it was such a pity that it was still overcast and driving rain. At least we were now warm and dry, even if our luggage didn’t arrive until after 7pm – who says wet undies are uncomfortable??