Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Day 8: Miya - Chiryu (19.8km)

I got up at 5.30am and breakfasted from seven. I then checked out and headed across to the Meitesu railway station where I caught a train to Jingumae, a journey of around ten minutes. I was afraid the train would be crowded with people heading to work, but there was plenty of room. From Jingumae I walked the few hundred metres to Miya, the point where the ferry from Kuwana once landed and the starting point for my day's walk. There was a monument there and some modern reconstructions of the original port buildings, included the one below, which I presumed was a lookout tower.

I left Miya at about 9.45am and some 45 minutes later, as I was climbing a slope just before the Kasadera Kannon temple, I heard someone call out to me from the side of the road. I looked over to see a middle-aged man standing in front of a tea shop. After a brief chat he invited me in for a cup of tea. As well as selling tea, Mr Hata bought and sold antiques, and his shop was full of old porcelain and other bits and pieces. I mentioned that I liked Imari ware, and he showed me a couple of pieces from his collection, including a nice little soba bowl. Mr Hata also knew a lot about the history of the area. He told me to look out for an ancient shell mound further up the road.

Before I left, Mr Hata reminded me of a Japanese proverb I'd first heard when I was a student: Sode suriau mo tasho no en (Even the brushing of sleeves is due to karma from a previous life), meaning we should value even the briefest of encounters.

I left Mr Hata's tea shop at 10.45am and soon passed the Kasadera Kannon temple and the Kasadera Ichirizuka. I noticed the site of the shell mound (called the Hokonoki shell mound) Mr Hata had mentioned but as it was off the road (and up a slope!) I didn’t take a close look. An hour or so later I reached the post town of Narumi. Just past the town I came across this interesting billboard outlining plans to build two ichirizuka beside an overpass.

A little further on I noticed several distinctive buildings on either side of the road. I was in Arimatsu, a town famous for tie-dyeing. Although I'd done lots of preparation for this walk, I'd read nothing about this place and it came as a complete surprise to me. I love kura (traditional Japanese storehouses), and Arimatsu was full of them.

It was 12.30pm and I was getting hungry. Next to Arimatsu station was an Aeon shopping mall, so I wandered in and found a restaurant where I had a nice shrimp gratin, a salad, and a coffee. I took a whole hour for lunch, making sure I was completely rested before setting off again.

From Arimatsu I followed National Route 1 all the way to the post town of Chiryu, arriving at about 4pm. I had no trouble finding my hotel as it was right on the Tokaido. Although not as nice as my hotel in Nagoya, it was better than your average business hotel. In fact it must have been the best hotel in town, because the mayor of Chiryu was having a meeting in the coffee shop in the lobby.

After a bit of a lie-down in my room I walked down to the station area and found a Mister Donut where I had a coffee and a chocolate and coconut donut. One thing the hotel did lack was a coin laundry, so when I got back to my room I did some hand-washing. Later I returned to the station area and had dinner at an izakaya, including takoyaki, fried potato, and a tomato salad, all washed down with a large glass of beer. Back in my hotel room, I began watching The Dark Knight, but fell asleep well before the end.

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