- Day 9 – Michi-no-eki Yayoi to Usuki
- Distance: 36.6km
- Ascent / descent: 406m / 391m
- Weather: sunny and warm
- Accommodation: Usukiya guesthouse, Usuki ¥2,500
I had a restless night sleep with people walking past the tent from around 3:30am. At 4:30am I decided I may as well get up so I packed up and moved over to the 7-Eleven where they had a sitting area inside and wifi (but nowhere to plug anything in). I had breakfast and decided to head towards Usuki for a short day and to visit the nearby Buddhist statues that are a National Treasure.
Komoot was a joy to follow again with its turn by turn instructions, however, it had decided that the most direct way to Usuki was the best (I checked Strava later and it wanted me to take a much longer but flatter route). So sure enough I was pushing the bike uphill again! The backroads it had me on were fantastic and much more interesting than the main road but I also had a very long tunnel with no footpath and as I peddled with adrenalin as fast as I could, I had quite a buildup of traffic behind me when I finally reached the other side.
Arriving in Usuki just before 11am, I dropped my bags off at Nomin Cafe (I had reserved a room at the guesthouse owned by the cafe while in the 7-Eleven this morning). I stayed here for a delicious healthy lunch, then went to the tourist office and picked up a map of the area.
The Buddhist sculptures were a 5km bike ride away and the bike felt great without any luggage on it! I spent a couple of hours at the sculptures and really enjoyed the ambience, the wildflowers and the field of bright pink shiba-zakura flowers that were at their prime.
Back in Usuki I checked into the beautiful guesthouse and had a tatami room to myself. I did some washing, aired out the tent and my wet weather clothes and then went for dinner to an Izakaya called Yufu. I was sat between two men at a counter and the elderly man on my left suggested I have the specialty of the restaurant, the Yufu Yaki – a grilled chicken dish – it was delicious! He left and I got chatting with the man on my right and we swapped various dishes (he didn’t want the pickles which I was happy to have and I didn’t want the liver which he was happy to accept!). He left and paid the bill for both of us before I even had a chance to thank him!
Soon after arriving back at the guesthouse a man in bike leathers turned up, Mori-san. I was sat on my laptop (still) trying to make a plan and he asked if I wanted a beer. I politely declined but he didn’t want to drink alone so I had a beer with him and we ended up chatting late into the night! The universe is obviously telling me that I don’t need a plan but I do need social interaction! It was wonderful to have the company.