Japan day 4
Japan day 4
Being an inveterate traveller, a belief that sustains me through thick and thin is that we must always travel with hope. When times get tough, always believe that round the next curve lies your mini-salvation. Yesterday was one of those days.
The Zen rendition was about to start. The wind had changed direction (damn it)….it was now coming from the north at 20mph, and guess my direction? For the next 93km, I was heading directly into the teeth of the chilly blasts. It was cold, it was dispiriting, it was slow…
To cheer myself up, I stopped by a photographer’s and they gave me materials to make this sign for the back of my bike
primarily to avoid answering the same question (where you go?) 100 times a day, and just to stand back and watch them reading the sign, shaking their heads and sucking air in disbelief. However, an unexpected bi-product at my first refreshment stop was a young lad who thrust a bar of chocolate in my hands, punching the air in encouragement. That helped to lift my spirits.
When I got to Nobeoka, very tired and very disgruntled, I found an information office, and a young man, Nobutake, took on my case of looking for a pitch for my tent. And so began the final, and very unexpected, act of the day’s drama. He and his boss, Seizou, personally accompanied me up a steep hill to a beautiful little secluded garden belonging to a Shinto shrine, where I pitched my tent next to a public bathroom….very convenient!
Nobutake then took me to the shrine to pray for the success of my trip, and then grabbed an official car and whisked me up to an onsen (hot spring), where I was inducted into the ritual of naked bathing in the hot natural springs.
After four nights of free camping and no showers, I had almost become a signed-up member of that global community of the “great unwashed”. These hot springs were, therefore, pure bliss….
But that wasn’t all. Seizou and Nobutake had other plans
……they took me to their favourite restaurant where we sat cross-legged on cushions at a low table, and dish after dish of mysterious-looking food appeared, most of it fish and most of it raw, washed down by liberal meaures of beer and sake (rice wine).
Having accompanied me back to my tent, we said our goodbyes, I thanked them profusely, and they simply said: “we hope you leave with happy memories of Nobeoka”.
What do you think?