Day 18 – 19 October 29th – 30th 2015
Reluctantly left the lovely little town of Yunomine. We caught a local bus to Hitari where the traditional boat ride on the Kumano River to Shingu began. Our day included the boat trip and then walking tour of Shingu.
The trip covered some of the river we paddled yesterday and a new area. The boat crew included a guide – who might have been a beginner but sweet. A woman who assisted the guide and played the flute as a demonstration along the way. We were all required to wear lifejackets and the cone hats. The latter I guess for an authentic look.
After docking at Shingu our tour guide for the Shrine, Akita, met us. A wonderful gentle and knowledgeable guide. We set off for a tour of the Kumano Hayatama Taisha temple, and our final of the three grand shrines. In the grounds is a sacred tree which is over 800 years old.
After our tour Akita took us to a small restaurant with simple but excellent food. We went for the easy menu option “I’ll have what he is having” and it proved a delicious noodle soup.
After lunch we walked with Akita through an old part of town from Hayatama shrine to Kamikura Shrine passing a school at break time. Filled with small children watching. The last part of the walk is a cobbled uneven stairway of some 538 steps.
Kamikura Shrine was the original Hayatama Taisha site. Set on top of a hill is a large sacred rock – the Gotobiki-iwa Rock. Legend says that the gods of Kumano descended to this enormous rock, which serves as an object of worship.
Each year the Kamikura Shrine, and more particularly the steps are part of the Fire ceremony. As Akita explained the festival and ceremony Chris began to plan his visit! Many men with flame lit torches, run down the 538 steep stone steps in complete darkness.
The torches are lit from the sacred flame of the shrine. White clothes are worn, and on the night of the festival, the men eat only white food.
On our descent we spotted a snake languishing on the path below us.
Akita kindly walked us back to the Hotel after the completion of our tour. We checked in then walked to the station to try and pick up our tickets. Spotting a small coffee shop in the station carpark we stopped in. In the midst of coffee had a message from Holly “Mum I think I want to keep travelling and not go to university next year” When you are in the middle of a travel adventure what can you possibly say. “The Mother in me says go to Uni, the traveller in me says travel the world while you can.”
Later we walked around the town trying to find a restaurant listed on TripAdvisor. Got completely lost and in the end went to a small bar in a laneway opposite the hotel. Smokey tiny family run bar. Chris’s meal came with a small handmade Union jack flag in it.
Day 19 Shingu to Kyoto
We felt no reluctance at all leaving our Sunshine Hotel room. After the beautiful Ryokans and accommodations to date is was just a room – small and basic. Bed basic. WiFi patchy to non-existent. It was average.
Heading for the station we looked for brekky on the way. We came across Cafe Joyful – who could resist.
Looking at the menu (in Kanji) a nice man suggested the breakfast set:
Fried egg. Toast. Salad. Cold Spaghetti!!! and Cafe au lait. Hit the spot and off we went to the station.
Train at 1029 on time 😀 of course.
We got free bookmarks shaped like the train and our carriage had the cutest Panda seats.
There was paparazzi-like interest in the engine with people gathering to take photos at Osaka.
We assume it was a significant voyage and this was a famous train but were not sure why the interest.
We had an hour or so at Osaka so wandered the extensive shopping centre around the station. Me on a quest for the perfect travel day pack cum handbag.
Finally stocked up on delicious “baked goods’ then onto Kyoto. The station at Kyoto was overwhelming in its hugeness. Interesting architecture!!
Decided on a Cab to Ryokan Yoshimizu . Our home for the next few nights and one of our all round favourites. Delightful location in the middle of the large Maruyama park. Friendly staff and a delightful room with Tatami mats and futon with outlook onto garden. Shared toilet and bathroom down the corridor. Another challenge remember shoes off in room, shoes on to toilet, toilet shoes on it toilet.
The wonderful young man who checked us in recommended a restaurant for dinner serving a traditional Kyoto dish.
Once settled we walked into town and found the cute little restaurant 一平茶屋 Ippei Chaya. We had trouble understanding the menu and the helpful waitress was struggling to sort us out. A gentleman at a nearby table came over to help. When we asked if we could share the degustation he replied “Only if you are on a diet”!
A delightful degustation menu with exquisite dishes followed. We shared 1 and added dishes including a simple but stunning chicken dish.