Day 11 – The Road To Enlightenment – Walking The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage – Minabe To Inami, Wakayama, Japan


Day 11 – The Road To Enlightenment – Walking The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage – Minabe To Inami, Wakayama, Japan

Today was a cloudy and overcast day, but the rain held off while we were walking.
We had our raincoats and umbrellas at the ready, on the outside of our backpacks, just in case it started pouring all of a sudden.
But it never did.

Breakfast at our onsen ryokan was a humble affair.
Our table was set up with our food.
Other guests had finished and left already.
A man in working clothes sat eating alone.
We ate only what looked good, leaving behind the unappealing foods.
If served a Japanese breakfast, it is always easy to enjoy the miso soup, the rice and pickles, the cooked seasonal vegetables and the tofu.

We began walking along the coastal road, from Minabe towards Inami.
The towns we passed were pretty desolate, not because of the coronavirus or the lack of tourists, but because the older generations are dying out, and the young want to have more exciting lives in the cities of Japan, where services and opportunities are in abundance.

The beaches are rocky, but we did see some brave surfers who had dressed up for the cold sea in their wetsuits and walked up the road to find a good surfing spot.

The fishing marinas are all sheltered.
The boats are docked behind tall concrete sea walls.
Everywhere there are signs of higher elevation shelters, in case of a tsunami.

There were lots of big greenhouses growing flowers and strawberries, but not much else along the coast, just a few convenience shops.
We stopped in one to withdraw some cash.
All the businesses, including the guesthouses, hotels, restaurants and cafes in the past few days, accepted only “Genkin.”
Genkin means ‘cash money,’ ‘ready money,’ ‘cash at hand.’
‘Genki’ means ‘healthy’ or ‘strong,’ and ‘Kin’ means ‘Gold.’
Together, the origin of the word is ‘healthy money’ or ‘strong money.’
Looking at our digital investment account recently, badly wounded by the coronavirus scare, I can understand why they call cash ‘healthy money.’

After about 10 kilometers of walking, we arrived at Coro Coro Café, a seaside gourmet coffee and food place that couldn’t be more out of place.

We needed somewhere to rest, so we took off our backpacks and sat down to have a light lunch.
The day was breezy but the temperatures were mild.
There were no benches to rest on, nor a bus stop to sit in, since we started walking this morning.

The road we walked along, the coastal road, was pretty busy with car traffic and trucks, and often we had no sidewalks.
We simply walked by the sides of the car lane.

We ordered cappuccinos and hot cheese sandwiches.
For some strange reason, the cafe did not carry any sugar or any kind of sweetener to sweeten the coffee.
The owner was against people drinking sweetened coffees, and thus had none.
They did have some in the kitchen, since we ordered for dessert an apple tart.
They made it to order and it came from the oven sweet and crispy.
Very strange….

But their food was good, and they had floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the sea.
The overcast weather made for a very dramatic picture.

After we finished, we had about two more hours to get to Marine Q, a rustic seaside cafe with an accommodation upstairs.

Even though we arrived there at only 1:30pm, they were fine with checking us in.
The place is a very rustic surfers cafe, and I was not sure why I had not detected it when I looked at the photos online.
But it is only one night on a long pilgrimage, and I cannot be too selective as a walking pilgrim.
Sometimes the places we stay at are awesome and very clean, and sometimes less so.

We sat in their restaurant/café, by the kerosene heater, for the rest of the day.
We showered together in the shower room, and ate a high calorie dinner of a fish burger, fried shrimps and fries, and a cheese flat bread, in their restaurant.
It was either this, or to walk to the convenience shop down the road to buy some rice balls for dinner.

I told Jules that I did not find today to be much fun.
This was not the coronavirus or the fact that summer has not yet arrived.
The small towns we passed today were desolate and dying, there were almost no people around, and the shops were basic and almost bare.

Jules reminded me that our other option was to stay home in Colorado, and be under a lockdown.
At home, the shops are all closed except for the essential necessities.
People have been asked to stay indoors, not even to hike or exercise outdoors.

I have read one wise letter to our local newspaper editor, questioning this insane rule.
The letter writer said she likes to walk on a mountain that is four million acres in size, and she wonders how many people she could practically even see, let alone get in close contact with, while hiking in such a large wilderness.

Yes, Jules was definitely right.
It is better to be walking along the coastline, than being in a lockdown that makes no sense…

With blessings and love,
Tali

Daily stats:
Steps walked – 22,176
16.5 km. walked
Active walking time – 4 hours
Total walking time today – 5 hours.
Total walking distance on the Saigoku to date – 186 km

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