Thursday, the 7th of October 2021.
It had rained earlier, and a patch of blue sky appeared with the morning sunlight, and mountains were exhaling mist.
Just 500 meters from the accommodation, steep stairs suddenly appeared at the side of the road. There was always an invisible border or barrier between the regular tar road and the trail. With one deep breath and a firm poke of my stick into the ground, I crossed the border. Endless green stairs followed, one after another, gradually leading into the clouds. It was quiet, the only sound I could hear, was movement of myself. I felt that I was inhaling the fog, and my body was perspiring, making the fog even thicker. There were several rest areas, but I did not take a break as the benches were either damp or in poor condition, so I continued walking. I lost track of my altitude and sense of time until I reached the viewpoint, Funamijyaya. It must offer a magnificent view of the sea on clear, sunny days, but all I could see were clouds. The bench there was also in bad condition, therefore I did not stop for a break either. Afterward, the trail descended, and while I typically descend quickly on trails, stairs are a different story. Descending stairs is quite challenging for my feet, so I tried to walk alongside them as much as possible.
The trail eventually merged with a road and entered a large park with a spacious car park. There were hardly any people around, I finally decided to take a lunch break as I could see decent benches there. After lunch, I walked through the park and re-entered the trail briefly before reaching Nachi. Whenever I hear the name “Nachi” and see the symbol of a Buddhist temple, my inner childish dark side conjures images of Dr. Strangelove, Peter Sellers. The iconic three-storied pagoda and Nachi Falls came into view. Clouds were moving swiftly on the mountain above, and I was walking beyond those mountains. Thankfully, I didn’t get lost or end up on the other side of the waterfall.
At Kumano Nachi Taisha, I saw a Miko dance. Miko are female workers for the shrine, and I can not quite describe those music and dance whether it could call it rhythm, speed, or slowness, it is unique tempo. That is a ritual they perform at specific times of the day. However, I rarely have the opportunity to witness these dance, which is intended for the gods and the otherworldly.
After spending some time on a bench in the shrine, I decided to walk to Katsuura. I didn’t have a clear plan for what I was going to do, I had contemplated taking a train from Katsuura to the Shingu area, perhaps even having bit of splash at the beach, but I wasn’t sure if I’d make it in time for the infrequent trains. I could have taken a bus since it was no longer a trail but simply a road. However, having become accustomed to walking, I didn’t feel like checking the bus schedule and waiting. Therefore, I made the choice to spend the night Katsuura.
Kumanokodo Ogumotorigoe. 27.08km Katsuura