Monday, 14 April 2014

Back in Japan

Shaving my hair before leaving
When we abandoned the Shikoku pilgrimage last year we had no idea we would be returning to Japan so soon. I had anticipated it being at least a couple of years before we'd be able to come back. But Mick is keen to have another go. And as he offered to pay for me to come along as well it seemed churlish to refuse…

So we are heading back to Shikoku to attempt the 88 temple pilgrimage again. This will be my second attempt and Mick's third. I have written previously about my reasons why I think we failed last year and this time we have tried to address the problems by a) not bringing bicycles b) arriving here earlier in the year when it is much cooler and c) allowing ourselves lots (and I mean LOTS) of time, up to 85 days. Frankly, if we can't walk this pilgrimage in that time then it is unlikely we could finish it at all.

My old rucksack
Mick's Osprey Kestrel
As usual I have dragged my old kit out of the cupboard while Mick has used the trip as an excuse to go shopping. I have a rucksack I bought in the St Nicholas Market in Bristol for £20 in about 1982. Mick has a brand new Osprey Kestrel 68 rucksack with Airscape back panel, compression straps, multi-pockets, pole attachment blah blah blah…

Shoes - I am wearing the Merrell shoes I bought last year for the SWCP while Mick has purchased a pair of Salomon Campside mid boots for the trip. I did, however, invest in a new pair of Bridgedale Trailblaze socks. Mick of course had to outdo me and so he bought three pairs. I will write a full kit list when I can be bothered. But right now I'm a little weary, having arrived in Osaka this morning and have now not slept properly for about 32 hours.

At Bristol Airport

The offending curry
We flew from Bristol, rather than travel to London. I like Bristol airport. Heathrow is grumpy and busy and makes me feel tense. Bristol airport is so laid back and good tempered in comparison. Although Mick did get a scare at customs. He had brought a chicken madras curry along for breakfast. (Chicken madras at six in the morning is more than I can face but he seemed to think it was a good idea.) As we walked through security one of the staff enquired as to the owner of the curry.
'Er that's me,' said Mick, embarrassed. 'I suppose it's over the maximum liquid allowance?'
'No it's not that,' said the custom's officer. 'I was going to put it in the microwave, I'm a bit peckish.' He gave it back and Mick tucked into it while we waited for our flight.

My sister had dropped us off. As she hugged us goodbye she said, 'now, may the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back…how does it go? Anyway, whatever, just don't fuck it up, ok?'
Don't fuck it up. Brilliant advice to which I shall do my very best to adhere at all times.

At Schiphol Airport - I want I want I want
We changed at Schiphol where we caught a direct ten hour flight to Kansai International Aiport. Mick had a minor panic when he thought the Osprey had flown but it eventually emerged on the baggage carousel and we made our way across to the station and caught the direct train to Tennoji in Osaka. After the last visit we knew the ropes a little at least and bought tickets from the machine rather than join the massive queue of visitors in the ticket office and before long we were whizzing through the Osaka suburbs.

So, we've now been in Osaka long enough for Mick to buy a trekking pole at Montbell (excellent outdoor shop) and for us to stock up on camping gas. We've filled up on octopus tempura and baked aubergine from the supermarket and we're ready to head back to our favourite little bar, tucked down a backstreet near Tennoji station for a couple of pints of draught Asahi before we head back to our hostel, Tennoji Guesthouse, a small but friendly and spotlessly clean little hostel just down the road.

Tomorrow we will catch the train and then a cable car to Mount Koya, which pilgrims traditionally visit before starting on the Shikoku 88. I'll talk more about that next time but for now I'm off to the izakaya.

Izakaya in Osaka


 Oyasumi nasai


  1. Good luck to you both.

    Oh - and don't fuck it up.

  2. You're there
    with no hair!
    will follow your blog, good luck to both of you
    love yvonne xx

  3. Looking forward to hearing more - Enjoy!

  4. Thanks all! Will try and update whenever I can get online.