Day Five: Kuma Kogen to Kuma Kogan

Today I’m doing a circular route, returning to the same hotel for another night. Which has the awesome benefit that I can leave a bunch of my things in the room, so my pack is super light.

I got a late start this morning, unfortunate because I had the longest and hilliest hike to date: about 20km or 12.5 miles. With several 300 meter elevation changes.

A beautiful start to the morning:

A quintessential pilgrim moment

After an unexpectedly steep and long climb/descent, I encountered my first “osettai” or gift that people give to pilgrims. In this case, an amazing generous snack and beverage. Everything on the plate was local except the orange. img_1731

Local ladies preparing plates for pilgrims
Town guys hanging out at the pilgrim rest stop

A kilometer or two later and I got my second ossetai, from a younger woman who pulled her car over to the side of the road to give me candy. I wish I’d taken a picture with her.

After that … lots and lots of walking. Hills. Paths that were a bit harder to follow than in the past. And a snake!

Can you see the snake tail in the upper-center of the photo?

Eventually I arrived at Temple 45.


Time to start the return journey. A stop for a photo with incredible cherry blossoms, chatting with a new Japanese friend, and another plate full of osettai snacks.

A second stop at the osettai stand

Last but not least … beers at the grocery store with two Japanese guys and two Italian Buddhist monks.

Just having some beers at the grocery store with two other pilgrims and two Italian Buddhist monks

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