Day 4, Kushimoto to Nachi, 35km
Accommodation: Miyoshiya Ryokan in Tanabe, ¥3200
Sunrise is now at 4.50am but it was a cloudy morning and it took a while for the sun to peep out from the clouds. The below photos were taken an hour after sunrise at 5.50am and then I started walking today’s stage.
The first 3.5km to Koza station were partly along the highway and partly along small roads and the small town of Koza was quite scenic. However after leaving Koza, the path was along the highway with no footpath and tight curves and it became crazy scary with many busses and trucks passing. All I could think of was that tomorrow I need to travel back to Tokyo for my flight so I really need to get through this safely. It wasn’t safe at all, so I stuck my thumb out for a hitch and a truck driver stopped and picked me up. He agreed that it wasn’t safe to be walking along the highway and even offered to take me all the way to my destination today as that’s where he was on his way to for work, but after looking at the map I asked him to drop me off around Uragami station as it looked like the trail entered the forest again. I think it was about a 6km hitch and I don’t regret it at all!
From Uragami station the trail did indeed enter the forest and for almost the rest of the 15.5km to Nachi station it stayed in the forest or along small roads. I crossed Uragami-toge pass, Ichiya-toge, Niko-toge (a narrow path with a landslide and steep cliffs) and Suruda-toge pass before arriving at Nachi station. I was really glad to arrive and had mixed emotions thinking about this walk.
I took the 4.04pm local train from Nachi back to Tanabe which arrived at 6.08pm and on the train journey I was trying to decide whether I would recommend the Ohechi walk to anyone else. I think the conclusion I’ve come to is that the ‘best’ section is from Tonda to Susami through the forest and probably the second best section is from Uragami station to Nachi station (part of today’s section) which is also in the forest, but I definitely DO NOT recommend the sections along Route 42 because it’s just plain dangerous for you and for the cars that aren’t expecting anyone to be walking along the road. I genuinely feared for my life and was very glad to be finished today. Sorry Ohechi but if you’re going to be along the highway, you need some safety barriers and footpaths built.
However, all in all, I have just had an incredible 6 weeks in Japan! I walked the Nakahechi twice, Kohechi twice, Iseji and Ohechi (once each) and I would love to come back and walk everything again (except the Ohechi). This is a beautiful part of Japan allowing you to experience ancient traditions and see first hand how people in the countryside live. I have been welcomed into people’s homes and fed the most delicious food. This trip has been very special and these photos are just a snippet of more than 7,000 that I’ve taken. Thanks Kumano Kodo, I’ve had a blast!