Day 17 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – From Iwakuni To Yanai

Day 17 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – From Iwakuni To Yanai

Our hotel in Iwakuni was very restful, even though it was a bit old and run down.
Our room was spacious, the food at dinner and breakfast was very good, and the hot baths were rejuvenating for our tired legs.

While dinner was served in our room, breakfast was served on the first floor of the hotel.
We took off our slippers and were greeted warmly by the other guests, who were all seated at narrow tables side by side, facing the window.

The two waitresses were sweet old ladies, and as they served the tea with their shaky hands, they waddled around even worse than me.
When I wanted more green tea, I was afraid to ask them for it, not wanting to exhaust them.

I got up and went to get it myself from the service table, and they smiled and thanked me.

There were two options for the way south towards Yanai.
One was to walk along the coastline, sharing the road with the cars and trucks, and walking along the train line.
The other was to take the mountain road, with narrow farm roads that zigzag along the river and canals.

The coastal road was flat, but it probably did not have much shade, while the mountain road could climb up and down all day, but it also could be shaded and more beautiful.

I took a gamble and chose the mountain road instead of along the coastline.
Before we started our walk, we bought bananas, kumquats and peanuts for our lunch.
We also bought lemon juice to pour into my water bottle.
My map showed no convenience stores along the route, and only one cafe that might be open.

We walked a bit along the coastline road, before cutting southwest into the mountains.
Indeed, the coastal road was noisy with cars and with the train, without any shade and with neglected sidewalks, since nobody walks along it.

I loved the quiet farm roads between the newly planted rice fields.
The farm houses had glorious roofs, and I could see them airing their futons from the second floor windows.

I wondered how do they find the time to farm, keep a good house, cook, raise children, grow a well maintained veggie garden, grow and water beautiful seasonal flowers and trim all the trees in their gardens into all those beautiful topiary shapes.

They sure are not lazy people.
Those who love the land enjoy working outdoors all day long.

The cafe that I had made a mental note to visit turned out to be an amazing, new concept modern complex with a yoga and pilates studio, a shared work space, a bakery cafe and a restaurant serving what looked like a really elegant five course lunch.

Unfortunately both of us were not yet hungry for lunch, but we stopped to enjoy the atmosphere, the air conditioning and good cafe lattes.

The day got very hot again and we walked in T-shirts.
I was hoping that the skin on my arms would not be burned by the strong sun.

We did not stay on the mountain road, we took the local road by the river, and walked on even smaller roads all day.

We passed by a lovely rural hot springs hotel and restaurant, but again it was too soon to eat lunch.
Unfortunately these turned out to be the only two places at which we could have stopped to dine.
The rest of the day we did not pass by another cafe or restaurant.

When it was our lunchtime, we sat at a shaded spot by the forest, and ate our bananas, kumquats and peanuts.

Yes, we did walk up and down a bit for most of the day, but these were not steep climbs, but only gentle ups and downs.

Walking along the canals, we came upon two ducks living in a small pond inside the small canal.

They had some greenery in which they laid their eggs, and schools of small fish were swimming around for them to eat.
They seemed so contented with their life.

I stood there thinking to myself how blessed humans can be, if we followed the example of these ducks.

These two ducks were living in a really small pond.
In fact, it was not even a pond, just a flat place in the canal where the water accumulated into a tiny pond.
They had plenty to eat, no predators and some greenery was growing to shelter their eggs.

It never occurred to them that they could live a better life in a bigger, greener pond, with more fish and turtles and lotus flowers.

One duck was not saying to her mate, “I saw on TV yesterday night, a beautiful pond in Thailand with gorgeous flowers and fish so abundant and so delicious looking.
If only we could move to Thailand and live in a REAL pond….”

They were not comparing their lives to others who seemed to be having more fun, they were content to be themselves, two ducks in a small pond…

Our path joined the main mountain road, and we walked by a large dam made into a lovely lake with huge Carps and Koi fish.
We sat to rest in the covered shade and I lifted my feet up to rest them.

When we got to Yanai, instead of taking the direct route to our hotel, we
walked through the old Machia merchant district of the city, with streets lined with white walls and dark wood houses and shops.

When we looked at the distance we had covered today, it did not look like a very long day, but it felt like a very long day of walking.

In fact, we had no more strength to walk into town to eat dinner.
Adjacent to our hotel, there is a bakery.
We thought we’d buy something to eat in our room.

The bakery was nearly empty of any bread or baked goods.
We bought a few salty buns and a baguette with peanut butter, which was all they had that were not sweets.

The hotel felt to me a bit like “Hotel California,” – you can check in any time you want, but you can never leave…

But the Japanese tatami mat room we got was wide and really nice, although it smelled a bit smoky.

The hotel has no Onsen, which is a bit of a bummer, and no laundry facilities.
We took showers and washed all of our clothes with lots of body soap.

We had to make our own futon beds.
They provided clean sheets, the mattress padding, pillows and blankets, and we made our beds.

I have been looking over the maps and the options for our walks for the next few days.
We have some long days of walking, without any other options or train support.
If a day of 25 Kilometers felt so long, how could we walk 30-35 Kilometers into the upcoming mountains?

I was wondering why when we started walking the Via Francigena, we easily covered 36 Kilometers a day, and here we find it hard to walk 25 Kilometers.

Jules seems to think thot the Via Francigena section that we walked was mostly flat, but I seem to think that it is the weather.
In France we walked in autumn, and the days were cold, which was invigorating.
Here we climb up and down in the heat, and it is sweaty and harder.
Maybe the answer is a little bit of both of our ideas…

Today it was too late to climb another five kilometers up the mountain to the temple.
We will do it tomorrow morning, and then go down the mountain on the other side, and continue along the coast to Hikari.
It will be another long day of walking.

I ask my Higher Spirit for strength and for greater realizations.
It is not the small ‘me,’ the frail body that has any power.
It is the grand Spirit within me, which can do this walk easily.

With love and blessings,

Daily Stats:
Steps: 33,337 steps
Distance Walked: 25 Kilometers
Active Walking: 6 hours
Total Time: 6.5 hours

Total distance walked on the pilgrimage so far: 350 Kilometers

Temples Visited: None

Accommodation: Yanai Cruise Hotel
A large hotel with traditional tatami mats rooms and an onsite bakery.
No public hot baths.
Serves breakfast.

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