Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Day 5: Nirasaki - Kofu

Distance covered: 12.6km
Weather: Fine and very hot!

Thinking that breakfast was from 7am, I went down to the hotel restaurant a few minutes before the hour to find it was full (it actually opened at 6.45am), and had to wait a few minutes to get a table. It was billed as a "Japanese and Western style" buffet, but the selection of bread and pastries on offer was so poor I went for a Japanese-style breakfast of rice, miso soup, grilled fish (trout, I think), mini omelets, deep-fried squid rings (!?), and salad. I had a small coughing fit in the middle of the meal and felt a bit nauseous for a few minutes, a reaction to the unfamiliar morning menu (at home I'm a toast and coffee man) or possibly to the heat.

I left the hotel at 8.45. My goal for the day, the city of Kofu, was just 12.6km away, so I took it easy and made sure to drink lots of water given that the temperature was forecast to hit 32 degrees. After the sunburnt head debacle of the previous day, I'd switched to my Nike cap.

The scenery grew increasingly urban as the day wore on (Kofu is the capital of Yamanashi prefecture and the largest city in the area), although there were still plenty of nice old kura and other buildings and I enjoyed the views of the surrounding mountains. I even caught a glimpse of Mount Fuji in the afternoon, albeit behind a cloak of haze.

At around midday I passed the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art. I knew they had a substantial Millet collection as well as some Henry Moore sculptures. But I had another reason for stopping, and that was to escape the fierce heat. As I learnt later that evening, the temperature in Kofu reached 35.7 degrees that day. In that kind of heat, any concern for sartorial elegance is abandoned as one's instinct for self-preservation kicks in. In short, I put a towel on my head.

I spent an hour or so in the air-conditioned museum checking out the Millet collection as well as a fascinating exhibition of photographs by Felix Thiollier, a pioneering French photographer whose works (including some of the very first color photographs) have only recently come to the attention of the art world.

For the last few kilometeres into Kofu I was thankful for the shade the taller buildings of the city provided. I headed for the station area and lunched on spaghetti, salad, and iced coffee before booking into my hotel at around 2.45pm. After doing some washing in the bathtub (there was no coin laundry), I visited the basement food floor of the department store just down the road and bought a small can of beer and some deep-fried squid rings and some sushi and salad for dinner. As breakfast wasn't included at my hotel, I also got some yoghurt and bread for the next morning. Back in my hotel room, I checked out the weather on the TV to find rain was forecast, which sounded just fine after the scorching heat of today's leg.

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