Day 47 – The Road To Enlightenment – Walking The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage – Walking Along The Coast From Uminpia To Aonogo In Takahama, Japan

Day 47 – The Road To Enlightenment – Walking The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage – Walking Along The Coast From Uminpia To Aonogo In Takahama, Japan

We checked out of our Kyoto apartment early this morning.
Our aim was to catch the early morning train, that goes directly from the station closest to our apartment to Maizuru, without connecting in Kyoto Station.

Jules told me that I should not be too self conscious, but every time we move and carry our full backpacks with us, I feel like we are breaking curfew.
I know he is right.
I see so many other people who are continuing going to work, who ride trains, shop, hike, visit shrines and temples or go to parks to walk, run, picnic and exercise every day.

But in this case, we are not even moving to a different Prefecture, as we are simply going north a few hours towards the northern sea, which still is a part of Kyoto Prefecture.

After arriving in Maizuru, we took the local train that follows the northern coast to our hotel in Uminpia.
It is a beachfront Onsen hotel with beautiful hot springs baths, but they already informed us by email that the hot springs were closed because of the coronavirus.

It is a real bummer, since I had booked this hotel because it is a modern hot springs resort, and without being able to enjoy the hot springs, it is a bit overpriced.
But there are no better hotels that are open in this area now, and we needed a central place to stay that is located along the coast.

We plan to walk each day about twenty kilometers, and along the way to visit temple #28 and temple #29, before walking south towards Himeji.

At the hotel, we were too early to check in, so we left them our bags and started walking.
Right near the hotel, we saw a big market with a parking lot full of cars, and went over to see it.
It was a big supermarket, full of people and good local food.
We bought a packed lunch to take with us, since we assumed that any places along our walk will be closed.

I selected an Onigiri rice ball sandwich, with prawn and pumpkin.
It was a flat rice ball folded over the prawn and pumpkin, all wrapped with a small sheet of nori seaweed.
I love these rice ball sandwiches, but they are not always available to buy.

We walked along the coast, enjoying the oyster shells on the beach, the floating seaweed, the birds, the sun, the blue of the sky and the sea.

We walked along the seawall until the beach became a fishing port, and then we joined the main car road.
We saw a sign for the rest area where we planned to eat our lunch, even if it would be closed.
It was indeed closed, but we walked in and sat on one of the outdoor tables and chairs, and ate our lunch and drank our tea.

From there, we walked to a beachside neighborhood.
We saw closed resorts and camping sites, and beautiful, calm, spacious beaches, that looked like they would be a major tourist attraction during the summer months.

By the end of the walk, it had started to rain, so we stopped at the closest train station and waited for the next train, which we took back to our hotel.

Our luggage was waiting for us in our spacious room, which had excellent views of the water.
We showered and wore the Samue outfits that they had given us.
The Samue originated as the work clothing of Zen Buddhist monks, traditionally dyed brown or Indigo.
It has elastic short pants, and a shirt that ties like a kimono robe.
They are comfortable and look cool.

We were allowed to wear them for dinner, which felt a bit strange to me.
Here we were, coming to dine in their fabulous French restaurant with waiters wearing suits, with wet hair and dressed in our Zen Buddhist work clothes.

We were happy to see that they had other guests.
We counted five tables, all spaced very widely apart in the dining room.
The French cuisine dinner was extraordinary.
Each dish of the seven course meal was beautifully crafted.
The chef had combined French cooking techniques with local seasonal Japanese ingredients, and each dish was perfect.

After dinner, we sat in the hotel lobby where the internet was faster, and reviewed our itinerary for the next few weeks.
We had already heard from our airline, who had made a change to our return flights.
Because of lack of demand, they had canceled our direct flight from Tokyo to Denver, but booked us instead on a flight home through San Francisco on the same day.

Our pilgrimage walk will be over in two weeks, and we decided to spend the last two weeks of our stay in a beachside Onsen and in a remote Onsen hotel in the mountains, where we could hike and where they will prepare our food, so we would not have to worry about closed places.

We rearranged our itinerary to stay in this hotel with its fabulous food and good location, instead of staying in a humble guesthouse that we had booked in Nishi Maizuru in a few days, which offers no food.
In the current conditions, the last thing we want to do is to go out after a full day of walking, to look for something to eat in a rural and closed up area.

Now all we hope is that the two temples we have to visit in this area will be open.
One of them (temple #28) has a sign on their website saying that they are closed, but will reopen at the end of the lockdown in a few days.
Everyone now knows that the lockdown will be extended, so we will have to wait and see if they will open or not.

Wishing you a wonderful day/ night and lots of blessings,
Tali and Jules

Daily stats:
Steps walked – 21,857
16 km. walked
Active walking time – 4 hours
Total walking time today – 5 hours.
Total walking distance on the Saigoku to date – 820 km

Temple Visited:

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