I walked a short distance from the ryokan this morning to the train station. Then I became too comfortable on the warm train, and I missed my stop. The next stop was quite a bit further on and I had to wait over an hour for another train to take me back. The rail staff were all very helpful and the conductor marked something on my ticket so that I would not be charged again for the return journey. Eventually I arrived in Uchiko Town, which has an antique street with rows of shop-fronts in the same style as hundreds of years ago. Notwithstanding my false start this morning, I still had a long time for just a short walk today, so I strolled casually and had time to browse in the shops. There were lots of tempting goods, but I had to refrain from buying presents as I was now painfully aware of the importance of keeping the weight of my rucksack down.
I passed another of the un-manned roadside stalls today. The sign advertised that it sold - カキ - (Kaki) but there were none left, and I had no idea what a Kaki was. I consulted my dictionary to look up what delight I had missed out on; only to discover that Kaki has a quite baffling array of different possible definitions. So the roadside stall had sold out of one of the following: Flowering Plants, Oysters, Persimmons, Hedges/Fences, Vases, or Firearms!
As a police officer, I often see people behaving at their worst, obviously because that is usually when people need call the police. I think that over time this has jaded my view of humans slightly. This was redressed today; I received three separate O Settai (gifts / assistance to pilgrims). In the morning a lady in the street had seen me walking past in my Henro outfit and shouted out to stop me to give me some dorayaki (small pancakes with bean jam inside). At lunchtime, I was sitting in a bus stop, I had already eaten a midday snack and I was simply killing time because I did not have much further to walk, but the Ryokan owner had told me not to arrive too early as she had a dentist appointment and would be home late. As I was sitting in the bus shelter, no longer warm from walking, trying to huddle myself into a corner away from the cold wind, I saw an old man using one of those wheeled shopping bags to steady himself as he walked. He walked very slowly and passed me twice, going in the same direction each time, so I think he was just out exercising and had been doing circuits around the block. On his second lap, he stopped for a short break in the bus shelter and I must have looked a sorry sight because he me ￥120 (the usual price of a can of coffee from the vending machines) and told me to buy a hot drink. Later in the afternoon as I was walking slowly alongside a road, a car stopped ahead of me, and a young girl jumped out and ran over to me with a croissant, while her smiling mother waited in the car.
Today had not been so much fun, I planned my day's walking really badly which resulted in having far too much time in the afternoon to walk a short distance on flat roads, in a cold wind, with no temples to visit, and nowhere particularly interesting - or warm - to go. The random acts of kindness I experienced today lifted my spirits enormously. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Shikoku and felt particularly emotional today, no one actually saw me crying though.
- Distance walked today = 19km
- Distance walked so far = 474.5km
- Temples visited today = nil.
- Koban visited today = nil.
- Accommodation = Ryokan and two meals ￥6300, Takahashi Ryokan, Oda, Uchiko Town, Ehime-ken 〒791-3501
- Expenditure today = Train from Unou Machi to Uchiko - partway to Temple 44 ￥1250, coffee at train station while waiting for a train to get me back to the station I had missed ￥120, strawberries ￥220, more Mizumushi cream ￥2000.
- Settai = dorayaki, ￥120, a croissant