Monday, 1 June 2009

Day 13: Maisaka - Mitsuke (23.8km)

After a night's sleep interrupted by the sound of freight trains passing right by the window of my hotel room, I got up at 5.30am and packed my things. I bandaged my toe as I had done everyday since it became infected but left off the antiseptic ointment after reading on the tube that continued application could be harmful. At seven I went down to the lobby and got some bread, juice and coffee and took them back to my room to eat. For some reason the simple meal left me feeling positive about the day ahead.

I left the hotel at eight and headed towards the post town of Maisaka just up the road. It was a lovely fine day, and I took it easy, stopping numerous times to admire the view and take photos of the body of water that separates Lake Hamana from the ocean. I didn’t reach Maisaka until 9am.

After leaving Maisaka I came across another long avenue of old pine trees, probably the most impressive I'd seen so far, with 340 trees spread over a distance of 700 metres. It was noticeably cooler walking along this stretch of road compared to the road by the lake, although once I left the shade of the pines it got hot again. The road was flat and straight, and I took two breaks (one at 10am and the other at 11am) to rehydrate and nibble on Snacking Scroggin. At 11.30am I passed a Gusto family restaurant and decided to have an early lunch.

I continued on through the city of Hamamatsu, which was a lot bigger than I anticipated. Mind you, I did make a wrong turn at one point, and working out exactly where I was and getting back on the right path meant I spent more time there than I should have. I stopped to take a photo of the Okura Act City Hotel, whose appearance has always fascinated me since I first saw it over ten years ago, and which is still a dominant feature of the city's skyline.

It was another long stretch of flat, mostly straight road for the next seven or eight kilometers all the way to the Tenryu River. I took a half-hour break for coffee just after two, eventually reaching the river at 3.20pm. It seemed to take ages to cross the Tenryu, one of four rivers on the Tokaido that were too wide to be spanned by bridges in the Edo period and required ferry crossings. I was actually surprised at the number of major river crossings on the Tokaido. It brought home to me the fact that one of the reasons the Nakasendo, despite being longer and hillier than the Tokaido, was so popular as an alternative route between Tokyo and Kyoto was that it had far fewer such river crossings, which were dangerous if not impossible when the rivers were in flood.

From the Tenryu River it was a further four or so kilometers to my hotel by Iwata station near the old post town of Mitsuke. I arrived at 4.45pm, quite a bit later than planned. I put this down to failing to take into account the extra distance between where I stayed the previous night and the post town of Maisaka, and to spending so much time taking in the scenery around Maisaka. I guess the half-hour coffee stop in the afternoon didn’t help either.

I checked in and took up the offer of a free beer in the hotel lobby before dining in the restaurant adjoining the hotel. Since I'd already broken my "no alcohol while walking the Tokaido" policy for the day, I didn’t feel so bad about having a glass of Australian Yellowtail Chardonnay with my crab and tomato spaghetti.


Lanthir said...

Maisaka is such a lovely town! I was just bumming around google image search, being nostalgic for the summer I spent living in Shizuoka (nearly 6 years ago!), and I found this page.
It cheered me right up! ...Do they still have the little stone statues of the zodiac animals along the road a block or so up from the train station?

Walking fool said...

Maisaka is a lovely town. I remember it was a beautiful morning, and I stopped to take loads of photos. I don't remember any stone statues, though. I don't think I actually passed the station.