We had an early start so we got up at 6:15, this was painful. Breakfast was much more exciting than advertised ‘Some bread and eggs’, although it wasn’t massive it was tasty and had a good variety. We had decided to knock off the first two hours of walking so that we could get to the finishing onsen town ryokan earlier to enjoy the experience for longer. To do so we needed to catch a bus early. Unfortunately there was no-where to buy food that early and the inn didn’t provide a lunch box so we had bought lots of non-perishable snacks the day before. It turns out the self-guided tour was completely wrong and the inn did provide lunch boxes which we could have asked for. We were not pleased.
Along the way we picked up some other guests from the inn we were staying at, they were winging it with only accommodation booked and no maps and no plans. They didn’t even know the bus was an option. In the end they decided to stay on the bus all the way to the onsen town and do a circular walk there instead of walking there as we did.
Unfortunately there was a typhoon in 2011 which destroyed a chunk of the trail that we would be walking so there is an official detour that takes you round it. Unfortunately <editor’s note – or fortunately> it means that you miss out on 7km of the trail.
Even more unfortunately our self guided tour detailed instructions and map hadn’t been updated. They had only put a small note in the day by day itinerary (which normally just details the accommodation you would be staying) after the accommodation entry so it was impossible to find unless you had read the whole booklet. We felt it wasn’t too much to ask to not give us instructions and a map that was wrong given that they had had six years to fix it. Even a sticker to say ‘don’t follow these instructions go here and read this instead’ would have been better. We were a little vexed when we realised. Worse their instructions had sent us the wrong way so we were 45 minutes behind schedule before we realised and backtracked. Because of the detour we had an unexpected super steep multi-km long climb ahead of us instead of a gentle ascent. Fortunately our rage at the tour guide fueled us to scamper up at speed. So angry we didn’t even realise we had climbed so high <editor’s note – we were quite raged particularly as it was quite lazy of them and it was made worst by them indicating a bento lunch box was not available, this was the first time we have tried a self guided walk and we think we are better off sticking to organising them ourselves so that we can do all the research and have all the information even if it does take us hours>.
Once we were back on track we could enjoy the scenery, it was very beautiful and remote. It was a big change for us as we normally do day hikes near to a city or similar.
There was bit of excitement when In San almost stepped on a snake, it probably wasn’t on the deadly vipers we saw warning posters about everywhere … but we decided to be extra stompy to be sure they heard us coming. If only we had splashed out for the walking sticks with bells on.
We were not able to source lunch (because the guide was wrong) so we had gathered many snacks which we ate along the trail, pacing ourselves out.
These shrines in the middle of no-where were very interesting, many of them had fun stories like an old man dying from fatigue and hunger with a coin in his mouth, or a mother leaving her baby by the road and a wolf looking after it. Interesting times, it was obviously a more hardcore route back in the day.
When we got to a restpoint at the top of the mountain we had our ‘main lunch’ In San had a red bean bun and I had a chocolate souffle, maybe not the wisest choice but it was delicious and seemed like a good idea when I choose it.
Rather than going directly to Yunomine onsen town we decided to go an extra 2 hours onto Hongu, luckily we had enough snacks to fuel this.
Walking through the little villages was really interesting, they grew most of their own food, and had little honesty shops which had random things like home-made charms or ginger/tea/snacks in them with a money box inside a little shed <editor’s note – it was cute but not what we needed so we didn’t purchase anything>.
Because of our starting mis-adventure we were behind schedule and had a choice, give Hongu the time it deserved or blitz through and catch the bus that we had been running for the last hour to arrive in time for (the next would be over an hour and a half later). We managed to see most things at speed but didn’t get a great look at the largest Tori Gate in Japan (it was massive so we saw it from a distance). We did however catch the bus so success of a sort.
Because we arrived so early (other travelers on the trail were not as focused as us) we arrived before anybody else in the Inn and therefore had first dibs on the private onsen. Success. We also had welcome biscuits and tea to put us in a more relaxed mood.
After cleaning up we went for an explore around the town, there wasn’t a lot of town apart from the other ryokan (and randomly a j-hoppers hostel) and a free public onsen.
We went for a wander along the trail that we wouldn’t be taking tomorrow then came back and were faced with a dilemma, to onsen egg or not to onsen egg. It was too close to supper to eat it now and we were not sure we could safely keep it til tomorrow. The decisions were difficult and we obsess about weird food things. After a long time (too long) we decided to go for it and cooked the eggs in the hot onsen water for tomorrow lunch <editor’s note – the shop said to cook for 13 minutes and separately outside it said soft boiled was 9 minutes but hard boiled was 15 minutes, we stuck with the instructions from the shop>.
We cooled them down in the sink (to preserve them in the perfect jelly state) and handed them to our confused host to store over-night in the fridge (initially he thought we wanted them for supper). Hopefully he understood and we will not get them as extra breakfast.
Supper was very tasty, I will let the pictures do the talking.
We are sitting here in our traditional room, full of delicious food and content. Our legs are not too sore and although the start was a little flaky we came through in the end. Tomorrow our walking continues with the most intense day yet.