Kumano Kodo Day 2; Takehara to Chikatsuya

The second day of our Kumano Kodo hike started with the traditional Japanese breakfast spread at the small hotel we’d stayed overnight. Breakfast included various Japanese pickles, miso soup, steamed rice, a kind of dried fish, Japanese green tea, and quite likely a few other small nibbles. Each served in their own unique bowl or plate.

After breakfast we set out for the day.

Along this walk we’d chosen to carry all our own gear (we did leave some stuff back in the hotel in Shin Osaka though), and so we each had our five days of bare essentials on our backs in our Osprey backpacks, along with snacks and water hydration bladders.

The walking on the second day was equally stunning. The walk itself was longer than the first day, but it wouldn’t be our longest of the walk, that title was reserved for Day 3, or the steepest which was reserved for Day 5 – the final day.

The day started with a slow meandering climb, which throughout the morning levelled out several times, then climbed again, with a handful of small descents thrown in for good measure. The bush and foliage that we walked through changed several times, and was consistently beautiful and peaceful.

The log bridges along the Kumano Kodo

In the latter part of the day we descended down to a creek bed, with several small king bridges to cross, one of which provided a good location for our picnic lunch. A short while longer following the dry river bed which appeared to have been terraced by stone work and felled trees we came alongside the road.

The road allowed a brief detour across to a small Japanese roadside convenience store for an ice cream and a can of hot sweet coffee.

One of many small shrines and statues along the walk
One of many small shrines and statues along the walk

Following this it was back to the trail for the home stretch of the day with a short climb which included a couple more shrines to check out, and then a short descent down into the village of Chikatsuya where we were booked into a small Minshuku for the night.

The view back over Chikatsuya
The view back over Chikatsuya

Chikatsuya, like most of the villages and towns we stayed in and passed through seemed quite deserted. In a way quite sad, and in another quite surreal. It seems that many of the young folk have moved away to the big smoke, chasing jobs and city living, leaving many houses empty, gardens gone to seed, and shops closed down or on their last legs. The towns saving grace, at least for the short term until society releases how lovely life could be in a small town in the mountains with a river running through it, may well be that it seemed to be on main road from some place to some place else, with many Japanese stopping for fuel, food and to socialise.

Having booked late, we hadn’t secured a Minshuku that included meals in Chikatsuya. We were booked into a Minshuku, which was small, cheap, but it did the job. A couple of hundred metres away there was a supermarket where we were able to buy snacks for the next mornings breakfast and also to eat during the next days walk.

We also found one cafe near the supermarket that remained open until 6pm. Wow 6pm! That is as long as you have your order placed by 5.30pm. To be safe we headed there at 5pm, and after politely being told the first couple of choices that we pointed at on the menu weren’t available, we changed the question to ‘what is available?’. This was much easier, turns out we could have anything as long as it was the ramen.

Luckily the ramen was pretty damn good!

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The ramen was pretty damn good though
The ramen was pretty damn good though