People were already walking past our tent before 6am so Chris and I made an early start. Up over the saddle and down towards Beppu. It took a really long time but was helped by fair weather and a friendly traffic control guy. There were two of them letting traffic flow one way at a time around inactive road works. The first gave us a lengthy explanation about how to stay on the left and the second invited us for tea. Well actually he specified that there would be no dinner but we were welcome to stay at his house tonight. All we had to do was reach Beppu station by 5:30 which wasn’t going to be hard.
Once in Beppu we followed the Lonely Planet’s guide to some rotemburo (wild/free hot pools) in the hills. It was quite a trek and by the end of it I wouldn’t have otherwise wanted a hot bath. But it’s what Beppu is famous for and my feet needed some pampering. First a rinse in the water down stream and then the soaking in the main pool. Those that were with me at Deep Creek hot springs may remember I didn’t get into the spirit of things until well after dark and only when neck deep in water. Well I’ve relaxed a bit since then and I’m proud to say I did as the Japanese do. It wasn’t easy. Something ingrained in me was telling me it’s strange to down-trou with people around. But new experiences are what I’m here for. The water did make me feel better and the walk back down the hill didn’t hurt so much. We stopped for a quick carbo-load at Joyfull Restaurant and I’m sure I’ll be doing that again. It’s not cheap by some standards but for Japan it was great. Three burger patties and two bowls of rice later I was almost full.
Exactly on time we arrived at the station and Taketazu-san and his friend Hori-san rolled up. Luckily he lived just 5 mins walk away and I have maintained my no-car rule. He’s 60 but doesn’t look it, and did the Shikoku trail 10 years ago. I guess that explains why he offered his place to two smelly hikers. We’ve spent the evening talking with Chris doing most of the translation. My grammar is still awful but I’m getting better.
Word of the day: jouki = steam (as in Steam Craig)
Distance today: 32 km