I’m out of the big smoke and safely in the pleasant city of Tokushima. It’s particularly pleasant as it’s been dark for a while but it’s still lovely and warm outside. I suspect the local accent is strong but I couldn’t say for sure because most Japanese is still
incomprehensible to me anyway. Nonetheless, Tokushima has a nice river and a ropeway.
My ride today was 90km to Wakayama, where I caught the ferry, and then a short-ish ride into town to my cheap accommodation. Camping starts tomorrow. At about 8am this morning, I bid a fond adieu to my hosts in Osaka (technically Hyogo, the next prefecture) Richard and Akane, and set off along route 2 to Osaka. There seemed to be plenty of commuting cyclists so I just tagged along behind whichever of them was nearest me. I kept following different people because I wasn’t as committed to running red lights as, apparently, the entire cycling community of Osaka. Also the Trucker wobbles a little under the weight of my panniers and so is a little slow to manoeuvre in traffic.
It was fun riding in traffic in the middle of Osaka but on the highway out I grew a bit tired of not being able to relax because of having to be alert to so much traffic around me. A few times I turned off the main drag and had a pleasant pedal through a quiet local neighbourhood before getting back to the main road. After about 50km, some small glimpses of the countryside started to slip in and eventually the road I was on narrowed to one lane- busy but not stressful.
I was lucky to arrive in Wakayama just 20 minutes before the ferry left and when I arrived, there were another couple of cyclists at the terminal so I got chatting to them. One of them, Satoshi, was also catching the ferry and the other was a friend who had ridden out there with him. Satoshi studies acting in Tokyo but has decided go ride his road bike around Japan. He’s doing it on the cheap so he’s sleeping in the open for four nights and every fifth night is in a capsule hotel. He wasn’t sure how far the trip would be but I reckon it must be close to four thousand kilometres, if not more. Of course that may feel short compared with two hours on the ferry trying to make sense of my Japanese.
Tomorrow the pilgrimage begins in earnest and I’ll get up to temple one bright and early to stock up on pilgrim supplies and then race to visit as many temples as I can in the day. There are quite a few temples close by around here so I may be cutting the visits quite short as the day goes on. And I’ll have my first experience of trying to find a camp site to look forward to. And it’s going to start raining some time in the next few days…