Japan day 2
Japan day 2
Cape Sata-Kushima 108kms
As I left Sata this morning, the enormity if the journey ahead was thrust in my face….
….except that mine will be closer to 3000kms.
If you intend coming to Japan as a lightweight traveller, you are going to be disappointed. I had heard of the prolific generosity of the Japanese, and for me the present-giving started today, the first day of my route.
I stopped by a roadside orange seller to buy a couple of oranges. The owner, Ken
(probably short for Kenichi) tried his few words of English out on me. With the aid of some writing, I discovered he was a retired maths teacher, and when he asked my age (which happens a lot in Japan), and discovered I was 2 years older than him: “And you bicycle to Soya Misaki……?” He was about to say ‘Are you mad?’ but he just stood there shaking his head and sucking air through his teeth (a common Japanese expression of disbelief). He gave me two more big oranges, and when we exchanged personal cards, he gave me yet another two. If I had stayed another 15 minutes, I would have successfully cleared his stall of all his stock!
As I scouted round for a place to camp in Kushima, these two school chums
(who were hitch-hiking round Kyushu), acted as my interpreter in the train station (best place for local information and maps). They were full of beans…….they wanted to know all about my trip: “All the way to Hokkaido” they said. “How old you are?”…….what is this fetish about age? They just spent the next few minutes jabbering away between them….but the tone was unmistakably one of disbelief.
But I ended up asking a lady, who was raking leaves in what I thought to be the grounds of a Monumental Stonemason’s, and she told me I was very welcome to pitch my tent there. But she was worried that there was only a cold tap in the garden and a long-drop benjo. I’m sure she was thinking that a man of my age should be looking for something a little more comfortable…..but I told her I was delighted with the ‘terms and conditions’. Out of pity she then dived into her car and brought out some sweet potato snacks, and gave me all the coffee she had brought for herself.
Nobe was then joined by Miruko,
and they explained that I was camping in the grounds of a Buddhist temple, (and she showed me how to pray before the Buddha…..a lot of deep bows and clapping) that also served as the site of the cemetery…..but assured me that my neighbours would be quiet.
After they had disappeared for the night, Nobe came back bearing more gifts, including some slippers and fine paper craft.
How we communicated throughout remains a mystery. Nobe had about 20 words of English, and me about 10 of Japanese….and most of those about food and drink.
And this was only day 1 of my journey. I wonder how many more pairs of slippers will make a bid to fill my remaining pannier space?
I will now rest my weary head tonight thinking only sublime Zen thoughts…….
Below, my morning ablution….