Day 4 was a day of contradictions in a way. By the afternoon my legs were so sore and stiff, getting up stairs was near impossible. And the last 6 km was a real challenge, mostly flat, but because my legs were giving me so much grief I couldn’t move as fast as I would have liked and it felt as if it really dragged out. However, all that being said, it was my favourite day! Mostly because the downhill stretch was so beautiful.
As per usual I left pretty early in the morning, and because I started out in the mountains it was still somewhat dark. But as soon as I got through the pass I had the morning sun breaking over mountains, valleys, and little townships. So very pretty. The sky was a gorgeous blue, and the water in the river was just so clear. Not at all what I am accustomed to in Japan. The scenery in that part of Japan is just right up my alley.
Surprisingly there was only a little bit of off-road path on day 4. The rest of the trail was on roads, which surprised me, but I do have to admit that I prefer the slope of a road to climbing down stairs (which you find a lot hiking in Japan). I think people have a hard time choosing the right kind of shoes to do the Henro trail, because you would think it’s hiking, but really you spend most of your time on roads. I was wearing trail runners, which I found gave me enough grip (although I didn’t have to test that in wet weather) and yet were still comfortable enough for walking on bitumen.
I ended up running into many of the same people again today. Everyone left the lodge around the same time, and we all would catch up to each other along the way, as well as the bus and car pilgrims at the temples. Initially I had only planned to walk to the next temple as that would have been about 19 km, but after talking to all the other Henro the night before I decided to push myself to temple 16. I was kinda glad that I did, because otherwise I would have stopped for the night far too early, but it really was tough going. There were two other Henro who had stayed at the lodge the previous night at the same Minshuku this night, which was nice because we could have a chat over meals. It was also a pretty nice Minshuku as well, I had a room which looked out on a courtyard garden even!
Just a couple of other curiosities worth mentioning from day 4. Passed my first rest hut for pilgrims which was designed for people to sleep in. Very very basic, and probably very cold in winter, but if that’s your kinda thing I guess~ Certainly a great idea for people who get stuck. Also passed a mini truck that had been pimped. It was rather funny. I guess I can understand doing that kind of thing to a big truck, but I just seems a bit ludicrous on a truck that size.