Day 31 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – From Kawatana Onsen to Ichinomata Onsen, and a Beauty Tip From Japanese Women

Day 31 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – From Kawatana Onsen to Ichinomata Onsen, and a Beauty Tip From Japanese Women

Today we had two choices of how to walk.
One option was a 30 Kilometer day zigzagging around a mountain and arriving in Ichinomata from the south , while the other option was 25 Kilometers, circling the mountain and arriving from the north.

We chose the shorter route.
Neither options showed any places to eat or drink, so before we started walking we bought bananas, nuts and water for lunch.
I also had in my bag a big grapefruit that we had picked yesterday from a tree growing next to an abandoned house.

Breakfast was a mini-feast, so we did not expect that we would be very hungry during our walk.

The weather was also on our side today.
The heat we had experienced yesterday abated a little bit, and there was even a cool breeze.
But best of all, there was almost no traffic on our route today, and often we climbed up and down old, narrow forestry roads that were no longer in use.

In this section of the pilgrimage, we are crossing a mountain range from the Southwest to the North.
This area is full of little thermal Hot Spring towns.
We have allocated four days to walk through this mountain range, with four nights of accommodations in Onsen hotels and Ryokans.

The distance between some of these little towns is not very great, yet each one of them has different qualities to their Hot Spring’s waters.

None of them were sulphuric, so they had no smells.
In our last hot spring town, Kawatana Onsen, the water had a touch of mineral saltiness to it.

The hot springs today in Ichinomata Onsen, was silky smooth and made the skin feel nice and smooth.

The walk was scenic and enjoyable.
We saw a few cyclists, lots of farmers, and people working in their vegetable gardens. It seemed as if almost every car on the road was an identical white Ute, the gold standard for Japanese farmers.
I also saw pheasants running in the fields, and a yellow fox.

We passed by and crossed many rivers and had our lunch break sitting on the steps of a big temple.

We came upon a very unlikely little café.
The owner told us that she has been open for two years, and in her little roadside shop that looked like a converted shed, barely the size of a mini-car garage, she also sold very cute stationery items and little gifts.

She brewed us some coffee and we chatted.
She couldn’t believe we had walked from Bizen.
Then she pointed to the clouds and with a sad face, told us that it was going to rain any minute.

But the Gods of the weather were on our side, and it did not rain at all.
It remained just comfortably cloudy enough to shade us from the sun.

I noticed that I am getting stronger.
The days we carry our full backpacks through the mountains do not feel too strenuous for me, and my ski-related injury to my knee is almost completely gone.
I do not feel my knee while walking, only at night when I wake up from my sleep.

We arrived in our Onsen hotel in plenty of time to rest, shower and take a long soak in the pleasant hot springs.
Our ten Tatami mat room is spacious and it overlooks the beautiful Japanese garden and Koi pond.

The area is surrounded by lush mountains, and it is so quiet and calm.
Our room rate includes a dinner and breakfast.
We asked when we checked in if we can get vegetarian food instead of the fish menu we had asked for when we first made our reservations.

They tried to be accommodating, but they had already printed a whole dinner menu with our names on it, listing more than a dozen dishes they were going to prepare for us.

The Kaiseki Dinner was served in our room.
It was a lovely meal of fresh ingredients, and they did omit some of the fish dishes and gave us more vegetables.

I wanted to mention the way Japanese women take care of themselves in the hot springs.

Of course bathing in Hot Springs pools is considered soothing and healing, and a sure way to have beautiful skin.

In a simple hot springs, which people use as a replacement for taking a bath at home, the women wash themselves quickly and not as thoroughly.

But in the more luxurious Onsens which people use as a vacation spot,
the beautiful and fit women wash their bodies with respect bordering on reverence.

Since the washing is done sitting down on a very low stool in individual shower nooks, they take the time to wash every little toe, every nook and cranny in the body.
It is nice to observe the respect many of these women have for their bodies.
I am so used to seeing people and women who hate their bodies, that it is refreshing to see real care taken to soothe the body.

I have heard it, but did not believe it until I saw it today.
I have heard that many Japanese women, wash their hair leaning down, with their head between their legs, they put the shampoo on the back of their heads.

The whole process of shampooing the hair is done upside down, with the face not looking at the mirror, but down to the floor.
The hair is pulled over the skull, and washed that way.
Only after it is conditioned and well rinsed two times, or until the water runs clear, do they raise their heads and comb their hair back with their fingers.

It is believed that washing your hair leaning down and working from the back of the hair, is a way to circulate the blood to the face, and prevent baldness with aging, something many Japanese women are aware of.

Tonight, as I soaked in the hot springs, I noticed that about sixty precent of the women washed their hair leaning down face to the floor.
ALL of the very beautiful women did it this way, while only a few older out shape women did not. (Perhaps they were afraid of getting dizzy).

Does it makes any difference if you wash your hair from the back of the neck forwards while leaning towards the floor?
I do not know….
But I have been practicing it since I heard about it about six months ago.
It helps the blood in my face circulate and my hair feels less dry washing it this way.

Everything has consciousness in it.
The body is in need of your love and approval.
If you belittle it or are constantly criticizing it and putting it down, it becomes a target for your anger and it will fail you.

Be kind to it, give it your kindness and look at it with tenderness and gentleness in your eyes.

If you have a dog that you always yell at, it will live in fear of you.
Your body is like this dog.
Do not treat it with disrespect and do not disapprove of it.
It will respond better to your love and kindness, than to your harshness and disapproval.

With love and kindness,

Daily Stats:
Steps: 31,206 steps
Distance Walked: 23 Kilometers
Active Walking: 5.5 hours
Total Time: 6.5 hours

Total distance walked on the pilgrimage so far: 623 Kilometers

Temple Visited: none

Accommodation: Ichinomata Onsen Grand Hotel
A lovely Hot Spring hotel.
Spacious Tatami mat rooms, serves a good dinner and breakfast, clean, restful and comfortable.
Has a wonderful, large indoor and outdoor hot springs that are also open for day visitors.

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