Please start at Day One

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Day 23 - Fish

In the hotel`s restaurant at breakfast I was drinking green tea and eating the Japanese style food that I had ordered (rice, miso soup, a little fish etc), I looked over to the table next to me and a group of about ten Japanese people were all tucking in to western style toast, scrambled egg, croissants and coffee with cream.

Today was remarkably uneventful, I took a short train journey from Uwajima station to Iyo-Miyanoshita which was a 15 minute walk from Temple 41, then I spent the rest of the day plodding, to Temples 42 and 43. My days on the pilgrim road have fallen into a routine already. At Temple 43 I met an Austrian couple who are doing the pilgrimage by car, they have been living in Japan for over 40 years and are retired now. Their daughter usually lives and works in Japan, for an Austrian company; but the company had ordered her back to Austria - for her own safety - as the company was concerned about Japan being too dangerous at the moment. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office - with whom I registered before coming to Japan - are sending me emails warning against non-essential travel to north-east Japan and Tokyo, but I am still planning to go to Tokyo once I have finished the pilgrimage, which should be around the middle of April. The Austrian couple also gave me their business card with contact numbers on, and told me to call them if I needed assistance with anything.

I have eaten a small amount of cooked fish a couple of times already now, and enjoyed it. When booking the next hotel or ryokan, the `vegetarian` food issue was causing a lot of confusion and a few places refused to take me, so when booking this evening`s ryokan I just said no meat, but fish is ok, in the knowledge that I would be served sashimi - raw fish. I chose a decent ryokan to start eating more fish, this was apparently a very well established ryokan with a good reputation, and the food was excellent, including the sashimi. The ryokan had a little star next to it in my guide book which means it is recommended by the Japanese National Tourism Organisation.

On my dinner table there was a pot of soup stock on top of an - unlit - small fire / stove thing which I`m sure it has a proper name, but I forgot to ask. Luckily this was still near the start of the busy Henro walking season and there were only a couple of other guests at this Ryokan so the owner had enough spare time to "guide" me around the dinner table. He gave me instructions about the stove, which he lit just as I sat down to start eating. The lid was kept on the pot, and once the stock was boiling, I had to take the udon noodles (which were pre-cooked, but were now cool and waiting on a side plate) and the small pieces of vegetables, and plunge them all into the stock for a couple of minutes to heat them through before eating them, exciting and delicious! One of the other dishes -  cooked Sea Bream - was so pretty I had to take a photo before spoiling it by eating it, presentation is very important in Japanese cuisine. 
  • Distance walked today =  16.1km
  • Distance walked so far = 455.5km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 41; Ryuuouji, Temple 42; Butsumokuji, Temple 43; Meisekiji.
  • Koban visited today = nil.
  • Accommodation = Ryokan and two delicious meals ¥7875, JNTO recommended Ryokan Matsuya, Unomachi, Uwajima City, Ehime-ken 〒797-0015
  • Expenditure today = Train from Uwajima to Iyo-Miyanoshita near Temple 41 ¥210, three Temple Stamps ¥900, bottle of vitamin water ¥150, gift and incense at Temple 41 ¥500. 
  • Settai = box of matches given to me at the incense stand, various offers of assistance

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