About

Kat on Mt FujiHi, I’m Kat.

I’ve always had wanderlust and this was possibly fuelled by growing up in the multicultural surrounds of Melbourne, Australia. I would take a sandwich to school and trade it with friends for spanakopita and baklava, amazed that a boring old sandwich could be traded for such exotic delights.

While studying at university, I took an internship in Tokyo and climbed Mt. Fuji for the first time. ‘A wise man climbs Mt. Fuji, a fool climbs it twice’ is a popular Japanese saying… so I climbed it 7 times. From Tokyo to Toronto to London where I’m now based, I’m searching for many of life’s answers, and hoping to find them somewhere along a trail.

Since quitting an office job in 2013, I’ve walked over 12,000km, cycled the length of Japan (and written a daily blog of each – links above). I’ve also written two guidebooks during this time:

I initially started this blog to provide information on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage as I found it hard to find anything online back in 2013. If you’re planning on walking any of these trails, you’ll find heaps of handy info in the above links and if you have a question I haven’t answered, ask away.

If you need any inspiration head over to my travel quotes page and feel free to add to the list. Or if you want to sit back, relax and experience any of the hikes vicariously, click here for the videos.

Buen Camino, Happy Trails, Solvitur Ambulando!

Kat

followingthearrows@hotmail.com

‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step’ – Lao-Tzu, Chinese Philosopher 604-531 BC

Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage

Ecstatic to be holding the certificate of completion of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage, at Temple 88.

150 responses to “About

  1. Kat!

    Love your 88 Temple blog. I’m walking the full trail October – November, camping out and the occasional bed (hopefully!). I’ve planned, the best I can, roughly how much walking per day and where to stop, averaging roughly 30km a day. Now I see you’ve got a few 50km days. Question – HOW? Also did you find it difficult with your injured knee? Inspire me please!

    Cheers,

    Taryn

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    • Hi Taryn, the long days were along long stretches of road with no elevation gain and my motivation was just to get to the accommodation 😉 My knee was fine along the roads and I just had to take it very slow coming downhill in the mountains. You’ll be fine and I’m sure you’ll have an incredible time!!! Xx

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    • Hi Kat,

      A very kind Sarah Williams (Toughgirlchallenges) pointed me to your site of information. I will be going to Shikoku in September, October, and November to walk the trail… a bit slower than you perhaps. Your information is very helpful on costs, accommodation, etc. Thank you,
      Peter Birkwood

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      • Hi Peter,
        I hope you have a wonderful time! (Just in case you’re unaware though, September is typhoon season in Japan, so if your plans are flexible it might be better to start after this…) Any questions, let me know!

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      • Yes thank you for that advice I will go later in September and visit friends first before embarking. The rainfall can be intense. I seem to get help from all the Adventure ladies! Thanks again your trip details are very useful.

        Kindest regards
        Peter

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Kat, You’re walking passion is absolutely inspiring! I have an interest in walking the route (if there still is one) from London to Canterbury, like the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Tales–telling stories enroute. Have you done that/ or considered it? I’d love to do it with a few other people.

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  3. Hi, Kat

    We are a party of male and female 4 people living in Ise city who met you at Tsuzurato of Kumano Kodo on May 20. Do you remember us? Taking a commemorative photo together, I asked them to talk about the two snakes. I am moved by the power of Kat who is traveling alone all over the world. Have you finished your trip to Kumano Kodo already?

    Please enjoy your journey in Japan.

    Toshio Nakamura

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nakamura-san,

      It was wonderful to meet the four of you and I really enjoyed the break on top of Tsuzurato-toge. Thank you to everyone for all the sweets too!

      I arrived in Shingu yesterday and I really enjoyed the Iseji route but it’s a shame that there’s hardly any signs. I’m planning to start the Ohechi tomorrow from Tanabe and then I’m flying home at the end of the month.
      Thanks for getting in touch!

      Kat

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  4. Hi Kat,
    Always nice to read the blog – and see the nice pictures!!
    You should start to be a tour guide – would like to be part of it all….
    Thanks Klaus

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kat,
    Just beginning to plan a 2 month walk on Shikoku and your blog is quite helpful.
    If I may I have some basic questions:
    1. Weather: What would you say are the best 2 months to walk to get
    the best weather?
    2. We’re both in our70″s and did 350 miles on the Camino Portugese
    last September ( starting in Porto & including Finesterre and Muxia ).
    Our goal on the Shikoku trail is to do about 400 miles and as that is
    only about 40% of the whole route I wonder if you could rough out
    a Greatest Hits list of temples we should walk to ( we’ve both been
    involved with Tibetan Buddhism for almost 50 years ) and those
    ” in – between ” arras we could / should cover by bus / train / taxi or
    whatever.
    3. On the Camino we made use of the Backpack Transfer services, and
    so didn’t have to carry our packs and we wonder if there are similar
    services on the Shikoku trail ?

    As you probably write answers to similar questions all the time, I’d be happy to call you if you send me your number.

    Regards and thanks
    Jon Gregg

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    • Hi Jon,
      Sorry for the delay, I’m just back from a walking trip to Japan myself and the wet October I just experienced (for a second time) will greatly influence my answers to your questions!

      1. Weather: What would you say are the best 2 months to walk to get the best weather?
      I walked it in October 2013 expecting gorgeous autumnal cool days and instead got three typhoons. I’m just back from Japan having spent all of October there and again got hit with typhoons so I would say spring is a more settled time of year – march/april or april/may. June is the rainy season, July & August is sticky hot, September is typhoon season (and unseasonably October is increasingly getting typhoons too).

      2. We’re both in our 70″s and did 350 miles on the Camino Portugese last September ( starting in Porto & including Finesterre and Muxia ). Our goal on the Shikoku trail is to do about 400 miles and as that is only about 40% of the whole route I wonder if you could rough out a Greatest Hits list of temples we should walk to ( we’ve both been
      involved with Tibetan Buddhism for almost 50 years ) and those ” in – between ” arras we could / should cover by bus / train / taxi or whatever.
      This is the hardest question I get quite a bit and I can never really answer it. I think it will depend how much you like/dislike walking along roads compared to walking in the mountains and you could plan this by looking at the map book. Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama and a night at Zentsuji temple (#75) where Kobo Daishi was born are two highlights not to be missed.

      3. On the Camino we made use of the Backpack Transfer services, and
      so didn’t have to carry our packs and we wonder if there are similar
      services on the Shikoku trail ?
      Not that I’ve heard of but if you’re planning to stay in accommodation then you can pack very light – in minshuku’s or ryokans you’re given a yukata dressing gown that you can wear to dinner and bed, and you can wash your clothes most evenings so you really only need one set of walking clothes (that are quick drying), then a warmer layer like a fleece as well as rain gear. I don’t even take a second pair of shoes to Japan anymore.

      Feel free to ask any more questions you have,
      Kat

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  6. Hi Kat, hitting Temple 67, 68, 69 today on the Shikoku route. Walked most of it and took train or bus due to difficulties finding accommodation or 2 Typhoons! I have been averaging about 25 km per day. Mostly road and pavement walking and dodging cars! Losing weight has been great! It should be called The Shikoku diet!

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  7. Hi kat!
    We met at Shingu city, Wakayama prefecture when you walked Kumano Kodo in May.
    I’m a owner of small private library.

    I told you I’m also walking traveler and I may walk Camino this winter.
    and I’m in France now!

    I have three questions.
    If you have time, please give me some tips^ ^

    1. Which is youre recommend Camino Francés or Camino del Norte?
    My plan is walking Camino,Camino Portuguese and Rota Vicentina about 2 month.
    I’ll start walking in 1 week but I don’t decide yet which route I will take Camino Francés or Camino del Norte.
    I remember you told me about Oviedo and Camino Primitivo.

    2. If you slept outside while walking Camino, Which place could you sleep?
    I heard travelers may be able to sleep church or gas station.

    3. I will travel Ireland with French friend about 2 weeks next February after my walking travel.
    Do you know trail route and do you have some recommend place in Ireland?

    Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!!

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    • Hi Yudai!!

      Omateseshimashita!

      It’s so great to hear from you!
      Are you carrying a tent, or are you planning to stay in albergues? Many private albergues close down over the winter but I think some municipal albergues are open all year. To answer your questions:

      1. I’ve not walked the Norte and I’m not sure what the weather would be like at this time of year (possibly rainy), but I have walked the Frances in late November and although it snowed and was very cold, there were still enough municipal albergues open to stay in everyday.

      2. I know of some people who have camped along the Norte, but I don’t know anyone who has along the Frances. You don’t pass many gas stations on the Frances and not all of the churches are open. I would plan to stay in municipal albergues where possible.

      3. I’m sorry I haven’t walked in Ireland (yet!), but I’ve heard about the International Appalachian Trail: http://www.walkni.com/iat/
      and it looks like there are 43 National Trails:
      http://www.irishtrails.ie/

      Have a wonderful walk and let me know if you’re visiting London!

      Kat

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  8. Sorry I’m late!
    Thanks for answering and giving tips!!

    I started walking 5 days ago from Irun and I’m in DEBA now.
    It started raining yesterday and will keep over 1 week haha
    but it’s good because night is warmer than sunny day.
    Anyway I enjoy landscape and walking!

    I chose Norte route because it is warmer than Frances (I checked temperature and altitude after seeing your message, really thanks!!) and I want to visit some town on the way of it.

    I have a tent so I slept outside and public albergue.
    As you told me many albergue are closed but some public albergue are open all year👍

    information of Ireland is also thanks!
    I don’t check it well yet but I will do before visiting!

    Maybe I and friend will pass London by car so if we have chance to meet, I want to meet you again!
    I will send message to you at that time😊

    Yudai

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  9. Blimey! 7 times that amazing. I have lately been thinking about hahaha and I shall still admit – I am still thinking about it. But your story really inspires me – however, I am not a tracker – any tips would be appreciated.

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  10. Kat all I can say is that you typify a life being lived.
    My wife Linda and I are off to walk from Dublin to Kerry in June this year having done a few other walks and 2 caminos.

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  11. Hello Kat. Good on you for doing your exploring and a big thank you for writing about it.
    Having been to Japan many times, I will go over you Kumamoto Kodo posts, having taking in only a few small sections and planing to do the whole trail in 2020.
    And only yesterday, my wife and I decided that Scotland is our place for late 2019, with the West Highand Way top of the list. So I will unashamedly pilfer your ideas.
    Tony

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Kat, I loved reading about your TMB trip with your dad! I’m planning on doing it next August with my teenage sons and my husband but he is worried about his bad knees on the descents and doesn’t want to mess up a good family trip. Are there alternative options for descending to town by bus or even taxi and meeting up with us later? It looks like it’s up and down the whole way but if I can find some alternate routes for the bigger descents then maybe we can make it work. Any ideas?
    Ruth

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    • Hi Ruth,
      I understand your husband’s concerns, I was really worried about my knees as well so I taped them each day with KT tape as well as wearing knee braces and also used hiking poles. (Might sound over the top but it worked thankfully!) There aren’t really any taxi / bus options to descend most of the mountains but there are a fair few cable cars and chairlifts that he could use, we used a few around Courmayeur and Chamonix. I can’t recommend hiking poles enough if he has bad knees and just taking his time on the descents.

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  13. Hi Kat,
    I listened to you on the Tough Girl Podcast and was very inspired.
    I am a full time gypsy adventurer, currently traveling around the world on bicycle.
    I am also a mother, meditator, cyclist, trekker, chef, scuba diver and yogi.
    I take my 12 year old traveling 3 times a year. This summer we have a month in JUNE to do the PCT. I am trying to figure out which part to do. I would be so grateful for any suggestions!!
    Thanks!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rachel,
      Wow, it sounds like you’re leading a truly adventurous and inspiring life 🙂
      Thinking about the PCT in June, the first area that came to mind was Oregon, especially around Crater Lake and one month is a good amount of time to see a lot of the PCT in Oregon. Depending on the snow fall, quite a few other areas might still be snowed in (other than the first 700 miles of Californian desert from the Mexican border to Kennedy Meadows).
      Happy Trails!
      Kat

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  14. Hi Kat,
    loving your blog about the different routes on Kumano Kodo. Looking back at your experience, what would be your recommendation for 2 experienced, trained (so eager to do some challenging walks) and culturally interested people for a 5-6 day trip? Certainly the Nakaheshi route, correct? and additionally parts of the Koheshi? Also, would you recommend going from east to west or from west to east if coming from Tokyo?

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    • Hi Fab,
      I would definitely recommend the Nakahechi (the section between Koguchi and Nachi Falls called the Ogumotori-goe is the most challenging), as well as one day of the Kohechi between Hongu and Totsukawa Onsen – this would be five days of hiking:
      1. Takijiri-oji to Tsugizakura-oji (Nakahechi)
      2. Tsugizakura-oji to Hongu (Nakahechi)
      3. Hongu to Totsukawa Onsen (Kohechi, then you can catch the bus back to Hongu)
      4. Hongu to Koguchi (Nakahechi, this section is called the Kogumotori-goe)
      5. Koguchi to Nachi Falls (Nakahechi, this section is called the Ogumotori-goe)

      If coming from Tokyo and getting the bullet train to Osaka then changing down to Tanabe then you could do it in the above order. Or if coming along the coast through Ise then do the above in the reverse from Nachi Falls, ending at Takijiri-oji. I think the direction will depend on which trains you choose and whether you want to visit Ise-jingu Grand Shrine which in my opinion is definitely worth a visit.

      Have a great time!!
      Kat

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  15. Hi Kat,
    I walked the Camino last year from Biarritz airport to Cap Finisterre, circa 1,000 km, amazing and life changing. The one thing I would change if doing it again is I would consign my rucksack to the luggage couriers for daily transfer to the next stop. I resisted the temptation of using the couriers on the Camino but will walk the 88 temples next spring and would like to ask you if there is a luggage courier daily transfer service available on the 88 temple walk?
    Thank you.

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    • Hi Michael,
      Not that I’m aware of, but it’s been a few years since I walked this trail. If staying in accommodation you can definitely pack light – you wouldn’t need a sleeping bag and would only need one set of walking clothes as you would have the opportunity to wash them each evening. The Nakahechi trail on the Kumano Kodo has a luggage transport service if you find yourself in this area 🙂

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  16. Hi Kat,
    Great blog you have. Just discovered it last night! I’m planning to do the Kumano Kodo (Iseji and Nakahechi and maybe Ohechi – but according to you, the route is dangerous?) + Ohenro this November/December. Is booking accommodation necessary? As I do not know where and when I’ll end up each day. Or is it better to plan where I’m going to stay for each day? And I found the “MightyGoods” link after typing my questions – they recommended booking accommodations. But many of the minshukus can’t be booked online right?

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    • Hi! It’s definitely better to book the accommodation in advance on these trails as there’s not that many places to stay and they can get booked up in advance. The best place to book them online is kumano travel (run by the Tanabe Tourist Office). Enjoy!

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  17. Hi Kat.
    Im planning the full Shikoku for october/november next year. Its going to be my first hike of this lenght. I am wondering if its any use bringing a hammock along the hike. Im guessing there plenty of trees/bamboo along the route? Can you recommend or?
    Regards from Denmark
    Rune

    Like

  18. こんにちはカットさん、お元気でわありますか?Which iOS App did you use for the Camino del Nortè? Any good? Thank you kindly…

    Liked by 1 person

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