Day 31 – Isahaya to Nagasaki and Feeling Weak, The Kyushu 108 Temple Pilgrimage, Japan

Day 31 – Isahaya to Nagasaki and Feeling Weak, The Kyushu 108 Temple Pilgrimage, Japan

We left the guesthouse in Kashima early in the morning.
We didn’t get breakfast there, so we planned to buy some onigiri (rice balls) and get a hot drink at the Starbucks, located in the Isahaya train station.

I hadn’t slept well last night, and stayed awake for much of the night.
This morning, I woke up feeling like there was something off.
At the train station, we locked our backpacks in a coin locker and sat in the Starbucks to have tea and eat our breakfast.

There is a mountain range with many ups and downs between Isahaya and Nagasaki.
It is not a high mountain range, only about 270 meters at the pass, but it is long enough that there are multiple tunnels for the train that connects the two cities.

I chose a route that does not run along the train line.
Walking along the train route looked like we would be walking on a long urban stretch, with many car dealerships and factories.
Instead, I chose the longer route, going south from Isahaya and then through the countryside going west to Nagasaki.

The country road was narrow and had no sidewalks, and we walked in the sun with many cars nearly brushing against us.
At one point, I started to feel anger bubbling up inside me.
I do not like feeling angry, so I asked myself why, and what was going on.

The anger was a response to the fact that some drivers were not giving us more space to walk, or crossing over the middle line just a little, even when it was clear that no other cars were coming in the opposite direction.
It was as if they were taught never to do it, even when they were risking the lives of others.
Some were driving so close to us, that the wind almost pushed me sideways.

I told myself to calm down.
I didn’t come to Japan in order to spread anger around.
I am walking a spiritual pilgrimage and we are always Divinely protected and guided.
If we were on this road, we were meant to be here, right here and now, and all was going to be well.

But just the act of walking today felt too difficult to me.
I asked Jules if he was experiencing the walk today as difficult, and he said that it was not more difficult than other days.
I think that I was starting to feel sick and that was why I had no energy.

We pushed on.
When we walk a pilgrimage, we walk with whatever feelings arise.
Sometimes it is pain, boredom, anger, joy, restlessness, loneliness, impatience, or fatigue.
It is part of the journey and should be expected.

I tried not to think of all the wonderful diving destinations that I could be at instead, for the same amount of money that I am spending here….

I tried not to think of all the monotonous sprawls of ugly urban Japan with car dealerships, hospitals, and pet grooming salons, or the boring scenery we walk through….

I tried not to think of all the overpriced guesthouses, inns and hotels we have to sleep in along our path, or worse, of all the grey looking business hotels like the one we were heading towards today, that offer just a bed to sleep in, but without any real comforts….

I try not to think of all the busy roads, the many hills, the many speeding cars, the hot sun, or how I was feeling so little and so weak….

We stopped at least three times at bus stops along the way, because they provided shade and a bench to sit on.
At each bus stop I cleaned the dusty and dirty benches before we sat, and we drank or ate something small, a
cup of tea or soda water, a clementine or a small cookie, trying to gain back some of my waning strength.

I should not be feeling this way.
Yes, there are hills and small mountains, but nothing harder than we did almost every day, and we were not even carrying our big backpacks…

After walking through a tunnel, we stopped to eat noodles in a small place that is well known for its Gobo (burdock) Udon noodles.
We had to wait a long while before we were able to even cross the busy road to the other side.

When we entered, we were warmly welcomed and we kicked off our shoes and sat at the low table on the tatami mats.
When I say “we kicked off our shoes and sat,” I mean I kicked off my shoes and sat down.
Jules always acts as if his shoes are glued to his feet and takes a long time to get into and out of his shoes.

I ordered our noodles and we rested and recovered a bit.
The owners and cooks were very interested in us, and happily told us that they have a friend living in Idaho.
Our wide brim Stetson hats were also a hit with them.

We paid nearly nothing for lunch, only $8 for both of us for two bowls of hot noodles and tempura.
Then we walked some more.
As we reached Nagasaki, we had sidewalks and it was nice not to walk so close by the zooming cars.
The scenery also improved, with views of the sea, the canals and the harbor.

We had no destination in Nagasaki.
It was too late to visit the temple and our aim for today was just to cover the distance to Nagasaki on foot.
Tomorrow, we will come to Nagasaki by train and visit the temple.

We returned by bus to Isahaya Station to pick up our backpacks and have an afternoon cup of tea in the Starbucks.
I was so tired, I nearly fell asleep sitting in my chair.

The train to our business hotel in Kikitsu was a very short ride.
Like all business hotels in Japan, it is conveniently located by the train station and offered a utilitarian night’s stay.

The bed is as hard as a rock, but the sheets are clean and the room is spotless and smells good.
I went upstairs to soak in the empty hot springs.
I was so tired I took a nap, while Jules did our laundry downstairs.

In the evening, we went looking for dinner, but the place we had chosen to eat at was closed.
Not many restaurants or cafe choices besides ramen were open in Kikitsu.
Because we had noodles for lunch, Ramen was not an option.

Finally we stopped at a supermarket and bought some fruit, but then we saw a Mos Burger, which is the Japanese equivalent of McDonald’s.
They have a plant based vegetable and soy burger and fries on a green bun.
It was OK, but wasn’t delicious.

I told myself to snap out of it…
I should not be thinking like this….
Think of all the dead, injured and kidnapped Israelis….the war, the poor starving Palestinians, caught between Hamas and the Israeli army….
Think of all the Ukrainians dying for nothing in a war that has lasted now for well over a year….
Think of all the lonely people, the mentally challenged, the poor and miserable…

What do I have to complain about?….
I am rich and healthy and my husband is healthy and strong…
I CHOSE to walk this pilgrimage….
Nobody forced me to do it…
I am not obliged to do it nor do I get paid to do it…

Am I upset because I am not in Bali or Thailand?
Where I can get fresh squeezed juices and plant based raw desserts and healthy foods and smoothie bowls….
Where people are happy and polite, versus decrepit and unhappy, as most Japanese people nowadays are….

I think that I am sick of being myself…
Anyway, I slept all night long on the hard torture-bed, telling myself that, had I grown up in Japan or China, I would have been used to hard beds and would be sleeping like a baby….

Sending you baskets full of blessings,

Stats: 34,315 steps
Today’s walk: 23.5 km
Kilometers walked to date: 533.5
Temples visited: none

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