I got out of Utsubo Park as early as I could. The roses looked much duller in the early light, if that hostel had been open I’d not have seen the flowers under electric light. The sun had risen above the eastern buildings but the haze was thick enough that I could stare straight at it.
A few blocks south then I turned east towards Nara and kept going that way for most of the day. Slowly the city became a town, then a village and suddenly as the land swept upwards to the mountains, the buildings stopped and I was huffing and puffing up a tiny one lane alley called Route 308. I was glad for the physical effort required. I enjoy that a lot more than the hours of mind-numbing pavement pounding I did yesterday. Find a way to make an exhausting but painless and fast trail will be hard.
Kuragari-toge (pass) was much gentler on the eastern side where a farmer was out seeding his field by hand and day-trippers were admiring how quaint it all was. A friendly walker that I’d met on the way up wrote “308″ and the kanji characters for Nara on a piece of paper to show people if I got lost. I doubted it at first but 308 is very windy and I did veer off it in the suburbs. Eventually though I reached Nara and, with help from the tourist info place, I found Kotaro the okonomiyaki restaurant where Lorraine and I met Ohashi-san and the reason I came back to Nara. But in a crushing blow echoing of yesterday a note in the unlit window suggested I was 5 days too late and it was now closed. The neighbouring shop told me everything was OK and soon enough Ohashi-san and then his wife turned up. I retold what I could in Japanese and started eating my way through his cupboards. He called the hostel for me but after finding they only had dorm rooms I was invited back to his house. It’s amazing how things change from day to day here. 24 hours ago I was listening to people creeping through the dead leaves of a park in Osaka, now I’m clean and my stomach is full, and I’m inside!
I hardly thought about coming home at all today. Yesterday was the opposite. Regular busses whizzed by, I was near train tracks almost all day and I knew that if decided to I could be back in New Zealand within 24 hours. But luckily I’m stubborn beyond all reasoning so I’m still here and enjoying it.
Word of the day: u-chi = home
Distance today: 35km