Weather: Cloudy then fine then cloudy again
Breakfast at the otherwise unprepossessing Hotel Sun Oak was a delight: a beautifully presented tray of tasty Japanese fare (including a couple of meat dishes, which, being a pescatarian, I didn't touch), augmented in my case by a couple of slices of non-traditional toast and jam and a cup of coffee. Thankfully, there wasn't a raw egg in sight. The other guests were a mixed bunch, including a group of elderly travellers and a couple of Buddhist priests.
I set off at 7.45am. It was cloudy and cool outside, perfect weather for walking. Though later the cloud would disappear and it would get quite warm. For much of the day I was walking along Route 4. It's a busy road but there was a generous footpath and the traffic never really bothered me. The scenery was similar to the day before - lots of rundown, retro-style buildings like those in the photo above. Just before reaching Kasukabe I spotted a Saizeriya and stopped for lunch (if you hadn't realised it before, I'm a sucker for Japanese family restaurants). Kasukabe itself was quite pleasant, with photos in the windows of some of the older shops showing what they looked like in what I guess was the Meiji period.
From Kasukabe onwards the scenery became increasingly rural. There were vegetable plots (including cabbages) and rice fields. I was making good progress, and it looked like I'd arrive at my hotel in Satte before check-in time. Seeing a McDonalds up ahead, I decided to stop for a coffee. I hadn't checked my email or Facebook since leaving Tokyo, and for some reason I assumed they would have free Wi-Fi. Unfortunately they didn't, but I did have a nice chat with an old man sitting at the next table, who saw my backpack and asked me if I was heading into the mountains! He was born in Kagoshima but had moved around Japan throughout his working life. Now retired, he lived in the nearby Satte Danchi. I never got around to asking him how he ended up in Saitama.
Passing Sugito, I came across this monument marking the 36th parallel. The sign nearby informed me that this was the same latitude as Teheran, Nashville and Las Vegas. So there you go. You learn something new every day.
I arrived at my accommodation, the intriguingly named Hotel Green Core +1, just after 4pm. Though there was no Wi-Fi, the receptionist kindly lent me a personal LAN device, and soon after settling in to my room I had it up and running. For dinner I headed back down the road a few hundred metres to a Gusto I'd passed earlier. When I ordered my meal (deep-fried oysters with rice - yum! - and a glass of beer), the waitress asked if I would be alright driving home. I thought this was pretty funny in the circumstances, and an odd thing to ask, but it turns out servers at family restaurants in Japan now ask this of every customer who orders alcohol.