Friday, 17 October 2014

Day 3: Satte - Koga

Distance covered: 16.5km
Weather: Fine and cool then warm

Breakfast this morning was in the hotel lobby. It was Japanese style, but nothing like yesterday's feast. Instead, a simple buffet with rice, miso soup, salad and not much else. The attendant, perhaps seeing the look of disappointment on my face, approached me and asked if I wanted some toast. "Yes please!" I replied. Moments later he reappeared with two thick slices of white toast bread on a plate. I found some honey and managed to put together a decent breakfast after all, though I don't think I'll ever really get used to salad first thing in the morning.

Post marking the spot where the Nikko Kaido and Tsukuba-do converge

I left the hotel at 8.30am and rejoined the Nakasendo in the old post-town of Satte. Today I only had to walk 6.5km, so I took my time, stopping frequently to take photos with my new camera. The scenery was rather nice for most of the morning. There seemed to be lots of persimmon trees, and I must have spent about ten minutes photographing one little spot, trying to get the perfect persimmon photo. Whenever I see persimmons in Japan I think back to the time while walking the Nakasendo (mentioned here) when I near-toothless farmer presented us with a bunch of persimmons. I don't like them that much, so my walking partner ended up eating them all.

After walking for a couple of hours or so I stopped for a breather at Gongendo Park, which is beside the massive Gongendo levee. The levee was built during the Edo period to prevent flooding, and must have been quite a feat of engineering at the time. Today it's famous as a cherry blossom viewing site. More than a thousand cherry trees have been planted along the levee, stretching for more than a kilometre. Unfortunately they weren't in bloom, but it was still a pleasant place to rest.

Kewpie Mayonnaise factory

Soon after setting off again I spotted a big Kewpie Mayonnaise factory. The sites just kept on coming today! I left the road and scrambled round in the bush trying to get a decent photo of it. Not easy without a telephoto lens.

Further on, just before crossing the Tone River, I came across an archeological dig on the site of the Kurihara sekisho, or Kurihara checkpoint. Like the famous checkpoint at Hakone on the Tokaido and the one at Niegawa on the Nakasendo, this was established to prevent the unauthorised movement of people along the Nikko Kaido during the Edo period. Unlike those two, nothing of the original Kurihara sekisho remains.

Taguchi Shoe Shop

After a late lunch at a Coco's family restaurant (not to be confused with the CoCos Ichibanya curry restaurant chain), I arrived in Koga just after 2pm. It was too early to check in to my hotel, so I killed time by walking around some of the local sites, including the ruins of Koga castle and some nearby kura. I was pretty tired after this, so after checking in I bought some food (deep-fried octopus, sushi) and a large can of beer at a nearby supermarket and had them in my hotel room before going to bed.

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