The Kumano Kodo Day 1 - Takajiri Oji to Takahara
Getting to the trailhead.
On Tuesday September 5th I woke up around 5AM to catch a train from Osaka down to Tanabe on the Kii Peninsula. I threw everything in my 60l bag and left the hostel, walking about a mile to the station. I was super nervous about missing the train, or getting on the wrong one as any delays in transit meant losing up to 2 or 3 hours of time on the trail. I wanted to make sure I got to my ryokan at a reasonable time so I could rest up for the longer hike the next day.
On the trail.
I spent most of my time on the train studying maps and timetables and being nervous, but somehow I still managed to miss a bus from Tanabe to the trailhead! I eventually got to Takajiri Oji around 10AM and started my journey. I passed through the small tori and was greeted by an almost vertical climb of switchbacks up to the lookout at Mt. Meshimori Yama. For the first leg of my hike I focused on settling into my pack and getting used to the sensations of the forest around me. On the way up I stopped at the Chichi-Iwa rock and "re-birthed" myself.
Arriving at Takahara
Exhausted, and dripping in sweat I arrived in Takahara and took in my first views of the Japanese country side. Arriving at my ryokan I expected to find a busy inn, but was surprised and delighted to find that it was just a small house on a hill. Not knowing any Japanese I must have missed the signs so I accidentally walked straight into my hosts living room through the porch. There I found an older man sitting on the floor watching TV and smoking cigarettes. He was startled, I was startled and eventually he showed me to my room.
The room was a gorgeous traditional design and looked out over the valley. Later my hosts wife would take me to the grocery store to get some food for dinner. When I left they took my photo, and told me I could always come back and insisted on calling them "grandma and grandpa" .