On Tuesday, the 5th of October 2021, I found myself struggling to get a good night’s sleep, perhaps due to either too much food or simply the fatigue accumulated from the previous days. My hand still throbbed and swollen from that horsefly bite.
Just before sunrise, I opened a window, and I saw an astonishing sight, I thought it is quite artificial. It resembled the vibrant images in some Asian restaurant’s walls, or the overly saturated photo prints on the staircase of Yodobashi Camera. Nevertheless, the tranquillity and the cool moisture in the air gave a sense of depth upon this landscape which I felt that almost falling into. I have enjoyed the view for while but when the sun light hit the magic dissolved. There were some time till breakfast so I had tried to sleep little bit more.
My departure was later than my usual schedule, I walked out of this quiet village, and crossed the red bridge which I saw from the window, and returning to the trail, then I began climbing towards Hatenashi Toge. It was sunny and steamy when I walked through the tiny village, which has an iconic view of Kohechi. I wasn’t particularly intrigued by the view, I just wanted to enter the forest pass to escape from the heat.
For the past two days, I didn’t encounter many people on the trail. However, as I got closer to Kumano shrine, I saw more people. I reached the peak in about two hours from the starting point, a bit too early for lunch, so I pressed on. After coming down from the Toge, I arrived at the river that I had seen from the summit. I walked along its banks, looking at the murky yet vivid blue water, wondering why it is so vivid, water should not be so deep, almost as if someone had spilled paint.
I reached a parking area “Michinoeki”, offering not only a “park view” with cars and motorcycles but also a river view. There were seating areas, toilets, and many vending machines, as is often the case. It was the perfect time for a bento lunch. After lunch, I walked on the tarmac for a while, only to realise that I had missed the right turn to rejoin the trail. Backtracking was always painful, especially on foot. It was merge point with the “Nakahechi,” the most common route. From there, the trail changed, looks like more “Kumanokodo,” a gentle downhill path through cedars and ferns leading to Kumano Shrine.
The old shrine, once stood on an island in the river, had been washed away in a flood long time ago. Now, only the gate remained, it is new, and metal. It was still quite impressive, especially after several days of walking to reach this point. I couldn’t spend too much time at the shrine, also I didn’t want to walk around too much, as I had to walk the “Dainichigoe” Pass which is not long, and the shortest route to reach Yunomineonsen, where I had booked a hostel. Glancing at the sun, and I was thinking how much time I have, once the sun goes down, it will be difficult to see the ground in the forest so I was rushing. When I got to the peak which is not high but I was greeted by the sunlight filtering through the trees. I guesstimated that I had about 15 minutes left, and when I got out from the trail in to someone’s back of hose, dusk was settling in.
The hostel featured an outdoor onsen bath, no view but really nice. Yunomineonsen area lacked nearby restaurants, so I bought small curry from the reception. It was a lighter dinner compared to the previous two nights. It was just 3 days, but I felt that I had walked for a week or so.
Kumanokodo Kohechi Section 4 & Dainichigoe. Approx 20km Yunomine Onsen