Sunday, 22 April 2018

Imabari to Yokomineji

Monday 15 April - The breeze off the sea is welcome  - the temperature is beginning to ramp up now and is in the mid 20s although the nights are still a bit chilly in my summer climate sleeping bag.

We are off the 'official' route and walking along the coastal path. To start with the route passes around a harbour with pleasant gardens but as we head down the coast road the houses disappear and are replaced with a line of derelict hotels, no doubt victims of the fancy new hotels at Yanoura Heights, high on the ridge above us.

We stop to admire this man's beautiful garden

A derelict hotel

The road becomes more overgrown and then turns into a sandy track which is getting ever narrower. Bound by cliffs on one side and the sea on the other, we are just beginning to think - horrors -  that we will have to turn around and retrace our steps when we suddenly find ourselves in a smart campsite with brand new sinks supplied with soap and washing up liquid. Joy! We take the opportunity to wash our smalls in the sinks and hang them in the sun for a while.

Lovely campsite!

We are heading towards Saijo city now; making our way towards the next temple which is inland and up a mountain. We camp in a local park again that evening, and plan to have a quiet day the following day.

A rest day gives us chance to catch up on chores such as  -

Hanging out the washing:

Doing the housework:

And the washing up:

The weather is fantastic for the climb up to Temple 60, Yokomineji. The route heads up a long river valley along a quiet road which eventually terminates at a hut. From here a steep flight of steps are the route on for a 450 metre climb up to the temple which sits near the top of the mountain at 750 metres above sea level.

A few cars are parked here and we talk to one man who tells us he climbs up to the top of this peak every week. He waves to us and sets off briskly up the steps while we labour slowly behind him us carrying our big backpacks.

The path is well maintained and is enjoyable to walk. 

Yokomineji Temple was quiet with only a few pilgrims present when we reached the top. The site is small and serene, and the air refreshingly cool after the heat of the plains below.

At the temple, another pilgrim advises us that the view of Mt.Ishizuchi is particularly good today which spurs us on to climb another 600 metres up the track from the temple to Hoshigamori. The pilgrim was right, the views are breathtaking.

There is a trail down the back of the mountain from here which takes you on to Mt Ishizuchi-san but sadly this will have to wait for another time. 

Instead we follow another trail which leads out the other side of the temple towards Komatsu Oasis. We do not like this trail much. It is narrow and high with vertiginous drops. We are both keenly aware that to topple off here would be an end to the walk and possible an end to everything else as well. Mick, much to my surprise given his vertigo, makes no comment and follows behind me without saying a word. We both know there is no going back now and so we are committed to heading down, come what may.

The route follows what appears to be an old streamway and is uneven and steep. But eventually the path mellows and becomes a pleasant and undulating walk through pine forests. On the lower slopes, bright flashes of azaleas line the route.

At a break in the trees we can see the route we took this morning up through the valley: 

Once down we head straight to Komatsu Onsen and reward our efforts with a long soak in the hot springs in baths with views across Saijo before a tasty meal in the restaurant and a beer.

The final treat of the day is a marvellous sunset as we settle down in our tent for the night. Today has been a good day.


  1. Hi Ellie,
    I’m really enjoying the account of your travels. The change of plan looks to be much more enjoyable for you, given your leg injury.
    We’ve just returned from a six week tour by car and then rail pass from Osaka down to Aso and then up to Cape Soya at the northern tip of Hokkaido and all places in between! Japan is such a wonderful place.
    I look forward to reading more about your adventures. Take care...

  2. Thank you very much Gaynor. Your trip sounds fantastic! Yes I am having to tailor the walk to my fitness but I appreciate having the time to experience sections of the walk at a leisurely pace. :-)