Day 19: The walk to Kyoto

I am sitting in back corner of the common area of my new guest house, listening to a Frenchman teach an American woman Japanese words as I think back over the last few days of walking.
The trip to Kyoto was the first of 5 legs of my trip, and was the first time back up and moving since my calamitous first attempt.  And while I regret having to abandon my initial route, I am happy to now be moving again.
The temperature during the past few days was warm, but manageable, hovering around 31C at the height of each day.  This, combined with a less vertical route meant a more achievable goal.
I remember on the first attempt, in that first day, I drank 5L of water and barely urinated.  I was soaked, literally, in sweat, and exhausted after about 10km.  I saw this to illustrate the difference, as each day on this new attempt I was able to comfortably manage with ~2L per day.  
The reduction in heat and humidity has made all the difference, taking things from "serious concerns for my heal…

Day 18: Arrival in Kyoto

After 55km of walking I have arrived at my guest house in Kyoto: the Hanakanzashi Gion.

Frankly, I'm too tired to tell you much about the past few days, as today was very exhausting. But the upside is that was able to walk much further than I expected with my full pack on my back, and now I am in my cozy bunk for the night.

Tomorrow I will take a lazy day, so I will fill you in on all the detail then.

For now... Sleep.


Day 16: The empty guest house.

I am going to be staying in a lot of guest houses, so I am going to get the hang of how they work eventually, but I was surprised when I arrived at my second guest house called 'Sai'.

After a good walk of about 11km I arrived at Sai in the late afternoon.  Tired and in need of a break, it was a well timed arrival.

I approached trode up to the front door, modern glass and metal, and it slid aside for me.  The lobby small, clean and stylish... and completely empty.

This feels like some sort of point and click adventure game.
On the desk a sign in Japanese and English says that there are no staff present, and to call the number below.

My SIM card for Japan is a tourist SIM, meaning it does not have a phone number attached to it, nor can it make calls.  So, I set my pack to the side and sit on the front desk and relax.  I figure someone is bound to come by eventually.

About 20 minutes later an automated email arrives in my inbox with instructions.  I was to check myself in using th…

Day 16: the start of the Tokaido

I am sitting in the common room of banana hammock now, my bag repacked, water reservoir topped up and stomach full.

Today won't be an extremely challenging walk.  I will take the train downtown to the start of the Tokaido road in Osaka.  From there it will be 9-10km to my next guest house, and Kyoto in 3 days.

Once there I will stay for a week to explore before setting out on the next leg to Nagoya.

I am once again walking.  We will see where this new route takes me.

Day 15: Mount Koya and the new plan

Today was my last idle day on Osaka. The weather is slowly falling, and the intense humidity that strangled the city, making 32C feel like 42C, is subsiding.

I have enjoyed my time in Osaka immensely, and made a great friend in Takanori in the process.  But I can't stay forever.  I still plan to reach Tokyo by foot before the end of November, just not on the route I originally and painstakingly researched.

Instead, I have chosen to alter my route to trace the Edo era road that connected Osaka and Tokyo (then called Edo) that runs predominantly through lowlands and the southern coast.

This new route is about 2/3rds the length of my previous one, clocking in at about 600km, and will follow far more urban routes, with less stints into the wilderness than originally planned.

This change in route is a response to the condition on my right knee, strained before I left Canada, and further aggravated in the mountains outside of Osaka.  I could have chosen to stubbornly throw myself back a…

Day 14: The autumn harvest festival

Despite the weather returning to form and it feeling like the middle of summer again today, I attend an autumn harvest festival.

Takanori was kind enough to offer to take me to this festival, as it took place near his home.  Without his suggestion I would never have known of this festival, let alone found my way to it.

For today's trip Takanori, Pak (a Korean guest at the Banana Hammock) and myself all woke up early to make the journey south.  It was a short walk to the train, then a ride on a local train that took us the rest of the way.

Left to right: Pak, Takanori and myself standing at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Mozuhachimangu shrine.
As we arrived, things were already well under way, and thousands of people were all throughout the grounds of the shine.

The shrine grounds had additions for the festival in the way of large "parking spots" built from scaffolding like tubing and festooned with decorations that related to each town involved, marking which spo…

Day 13: Museums, and festivals and spreadsheets - oh my!

Today was unusual in many ways.  Not bad mind you, just unusual.
Last night the rain started at one in the morning and continued without break until noon, having two important effects; The rain itself leeched out a great deal of stored heat energy from the city.  This city has been so hot the last few weeks that leaning on the outer walls of buildings, even late into the night, filled you with the heat of the day all over again.  The city has been bathed in heat, and a nights rain drew so much of that out and let it rundown the drain.The cloud cover itself stopped the sun from penetrating down to the asphalt and starting the convection cycle over again, giving the city a chance to linger in this cool period. By noon the city was only 25 celcius and cloudy. Despite the rain spiking the humidity, the city felt a relaxed shady cool for the entire day. 
With this I set off down the road from my HQ in the south of Osaka to visit the natural history museum.  It was a relaxed wander there, an…

Day 12: A matter of degrees

This morning I strode outside and immediately thought to myself "Oh! It's so cool out!". The morning air felt brisk and different than any of my previous days here.  The first hint of autumn is now in the air.

With this morning surprise I quickly checked the weather report, it was 28 degrees Celsius.  This only a few degrees colder than the scorching days I've had even up until yesterday.  These these facts didn't line up in my 'built for winter' brain.

Confused, I checked my other weather app only to confirm the report.  Had I become acclimated to heat?  Perhaps.  What far more certain was that the humidity had dropped dramatically overnight. 

Where in all the previous days the heat was accompanied by 80-95% humidity, making a 34C day feel like a 42C day, today it was 45% humidity and the difference that made was undeniable.

I came back from my morning stroll and was greeted by Takanori.  He too had noticed the change and commented on how he could feel …

Day 11: Osaka's unreal aquarium

Normally I write these blog entries last thing, just before I go to bed, as a good bookend for the day.  Today though I am writing while sitting in the cafe of the aquarium as I want to capture my experience while it is as fresh as possible.

I hadn't done much research when I arrived at the aquarium.  It had been recommended by a couple of people so I went with that.  At worst it would be a way to spend the day inside, dodging the hot and rainy weather.
A deceiving facade
As soon as I arrived I was a little stung by the ticket price, ¥2300 (~$23) to get in.  Up until now much of what I have done has had little or no admission costs, so this was a jump up. 
Things started off underwhelming, with a long walk to an extremely tall escalator. It's not clear why such a climb is needed, but I was thankful that it wasn't stairs, as it took quite some time to reach the top.
From there you follow a pathway from aquarium to aquarium, all on the left side of the hallway. Each contains …