Sunday, 19 October 2014

Day 5: Oyama - Utsunomiya

Distance covered: 29.8km
Weather: Fine

Aware that today was going to be my longest day, I set off early (7.30 am) and at a fast pace, determined to knock off as much distance as possible while it was still relatively cool. I covered 5km in each of the first two hours, slightly less in the third. The scenery was noticeably more rural than yesterday, but once again I spent most of the time on the familiar - and busy - Route 4.

At Koganei I came across a nice pair of ichiruzuka, or route markers, and stopped to take some photos. One of them even turned out alright!

I arrived in Ishibashi around lunch time and left the Nikko Kaido to check out the area around the station, thinking there would be a good place to have lunch. There wasn't. Noticing there was a local fair going on up the road, and wondered around for a bit before rejoining the Nikko Kaido. Not long afterwards I came to a McDonalds. Yes, I know. Inside, I wolfed down a shrimp burger and a Fillet-o-fish, then had a coffee (the food may be crap, but the coffee at McDonald's - at least in Japan, which is the only place I've been to McDonalds in recent years - is surprisingly good).

Soon after setting off again I passed the first of two huge Japan Self Defence Force bases. I was tempted to take some photos of the lines of military vehicles, but decided the risk of being mistaken for a foreign spy wasn't worth it.

I reached the outskirts of Utsunomiya, the capital and largest city of Tochigi prefecture, around 2.30 pm. Check-in at my hotel wasn't until four, so I killed time at a Saizeriya, where I indulged in more coffee and a dessert of ice cream, walnuts and chestnuts - yum!

After several days hiking through the countryside, it was a bit of a novelty to be in a relatively large city, and so once I'd checked in I went for a wee wander around the central city area. There had been a big international cycle race on earlier in the day, and there were lots of cyclists around. On my way back to my hotel I stopped at a Fujiya restaurant for dinner. The oyster and prawn spaghetti dish arrived with lots of little pieces of ham on top. Apart from that it was delicious.      

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