Sunday, 24 May 2009

Day 5: Shono - Yokkaichi (15.4km)

I woke at three or four but managed to doze off again without reading my book and slept through to six, when I was woken by my watch alarm.

I was expecting another buffet breakfast, but when I went down to the hotel restaurant at 7.10am I was greeted with an old-fashioned Japanese "Western-style" breakfast of toast, a boiled egg, and cold spaghetti (or pasta salad - I'm not sure there's a difference).

I left the hotel at 8.20am and headed back across the Suzuka River to rejoin the Tokaido at Shono-juku. From there I followed the Suzuka River to the next post town of Ishiyakushi, arriving at 10am. My toe felt good. After a short break, I pushed on towards the city of Yokkaichi.

A few kilometres out of Ishiyakushi I got my first glimpse of Yokkaichi and the smokestacks of the petrochemical plants that have made it infamous. Shortly after this I descended Tsuetsukizaka, considered the steepest slope on the entire Tokaido. The slope is in fact very short, but I was still thankful I was descending it rather than ascending it. I passed a famous well half way down, and I rested there and took some photos.

I continued on and at 12.30pm reached Hinaga no Oiwake, the point where the Tokaido and the Ise Kaido (the pilgrimage route leading to the famous shrine at Ise) diverge. There was a small shrine and a spring at the point where the modern roads meet. There was no one else about, so I surreptitiously filled my water bottle. While reading a sign about the history of the spring, two people arrived with multiple water containers which they proceeded to fill with water from the spring. I thought at first there might have been some religious significance to their actions, but the man I asked said people came simply because the water tasted better than the city water.

A kilometre or so further on I came across a Saizeriya restaurant (another Italian restaurant chain) where I had lunch. I left there at 1.30pm and arrived in central Yokkaichi at 2.40pm. It was too early to check in to my hotel, so I killed time by having coffee and cake at a coffee shop. After checking in I rang a friend who lives in Yokkaichi and arranged to have her pick me up and take me to have dinner with her and her parents.

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