We loved our stay on Naoshima but it was all to short and we had a long travelling day ahead of us today. The place we stayed on Naoshima was on the opposite side of the island from the ferry port. A bus took us across the island when we arrived. Wandering around we discovered a much smaller ferry from our side of the island so we decided to give it a try. It seemed to be a boat to take people to work and school on the mainland. It also left at 7.55am so we were up bright and early and down at the quay. Although this ferry was a much smaller affair the attention to passengers, by the staff, was certainly not lacking. Two uniformed gentlemen greeted us, accepted our fares and with white gloved hands escorted us to the boat. It had inside a very plush seating area and a small outside seating area.We opted to be outside as the sea was flat calm.
The trip took about 20 minutes up the other side of the island. We noticed that there was a huge industrial production site at the end of the island. It could have been cement but it was well tucked into a bay so hard to see. A big tanker was pulled up at the quay and lorries were coming and going.
We arrived back in Uno, the port from which we had disembarked, to retrace our steps to Okyama. This time we got a direct train, no change at Chaimaya. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘direct’ on Japanese trains. It just means you don’t have to change but it usually stops at every ‘hitching post’ as we say in Ireland. At each station more and more people got on. Barry really wanted to see the ‘pushers’ at work getting everyone on to a train. But alas this did not happen.
At Okyama we had a bite of breakfast before continuing to retrace our steps as far as Kyoto. But this time we stayed on the train to Nagoya. Here we had to board a local train for Nakasugawa. This really was a local affair with no English translations and puffing along for 1.5hr. But it did arrive and from here we had to take a bus to Magome which is the beginning of the Nakasendo. trail. Almost everyone on this small bus was foreign. Most did not look like walkers. They had huge suitcases!! There was a mixture of nationalities, French, Dutch, American, New Zealand and ourselves. We were to discover we were all at the same Miniusku (guest house)!!! So much for originality…. It was the only place which had a site in English and could be booked through booking.com. There is a great job here for someone out there to translate Japanese web sites into English. However most places were totally booked out as I stood beside a rather alarmed couple in the tourist office who were trying to find a bed for the night. The prices were rising but still no bed was materialising. I left them to their search.
We had dinner offered by the guest house which was fine but not at all up to the standards of the lovely food we have been having and it was expensive. It was just convenient.
Magome, as I said is the beginning of the ancient Edo trail which used to go from Kyoto to Tyoko. Most of it has disappeared now but some parts are still walkable. This is what we wanted to experience. The trail goes right through the center of this village of Magome and tomorrow we will be following it to Tsumago.
The village has grown up around it’s place on the trail and is quite touristic. The old houses have been preserved but turned into souvenir outlets. Our guest house is an original old house. We have to remove our shoes on entering. The rooms have rattan mats on the floor. We sleep on futons with huge eiderdowns and rice filled pillows. On the road like this we are normally so tired that we sleep anywhere. Last night was no exception.
Our guesthouse also had those wonderful Japanese deep hot bathsr called onsen. I had my first one here. This was a stainless steel rectangular bath which is covered with wooden covers. You just lift the cover and step in. Of course this being Japan you have to scrub yourself to within an inch of your life before stepping in. It was a devine experience.