Today should have been my last day of walking the Kumano Kudo, but I developed a blister under the previous day’s blister under the previous day’s blister – yes, a three-layer blister. Just putting my boots on was excruciating, and today’s walk would have taken me at least ten hours with its nine miles, 4,134 foot elevation gain, and 3,051 foot elevation loss. Notes to self: hiking boots can cause blisters no matter how broken in they are; always carry moleskin; don’t take the walking sticks out of the suitcase at the last moment.
Anyway, instead of walking and visiting the most important shine at the end of the walk – so much for my spiritual cleansing, I guess – I took a bus and a train to Kii-Katsuura, which serves as an endpoint for pilgrims. This little town was extra quiet, the previous night’s guests having left and the new ones not yet arrived.
Tonight’s accommodation – a lovely hotel, the Kumano Bettei Nakanoshima – requires a short ferry ride to its private island, and since it was too early to check in, I walked to the island’s summit where a hot, sulphuric foot bath awaited me, all to myself. I felt no guilt in using it despite not officially finishing the pilgrimage.
From my room’s lanai I can see a series of pens in the water, which I assumed at first had to do with aquaculture, but no, I think they must be training pens for aquatic mammals. Although this practice does not sit well with me, I have to admit I have a shiny happy moment each time one of them bursts up out of the water for a fish treat. I watch for hours, waiting for my own dinner.
There are several outside sulphuric onsen here, and again, I had one to myself. Sometimes onsen water is too hot and sometimes too cool for me, but this was perfect. I sat there, in the perfect water, and watched the dolphins (?) jump and the hawks soar, and it was very satisfying, finisher or not.
Among other photos, I’ve included the local wanted poster and questionable tsunami instructions from the train. And how’s this for inclusivity? Beer cans in Japan have Braille.
But gosh, I wish I had some open-back shoes right now.
Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to. And try plum wine!