Please start at Day One

Monday, 7 March 2011

Day 7 - First Koban

After getting up late, having a breakfast of green tea and bananas, and leaving the hotel at around 10am, I headed for the central Tokushima Post Office. I had decided that my bag was too heavy, and certain items were not justifying their carriage. Rex and Rachael had already told me that they had posted home some items and this seemed to me a good idea. The iPad was a heavy luxury, it was good fun in London, but in Shikoku without regular wireless it was as much use as carrying a house-brick in my rucksack, so I packed it, along with a couple of books and other non-essential, but heavy items into a big box and had it weighed in preparation to posting it back home. I had to list all the items on the customs form, and the post office staff told me that I could not post a battery to the UK, as it might explode, but the iPad battery is integral and I had no way of removing it. I had nearly started crying, when I had the brilliant idea to post the box to my partner's Mother's house in Tokyo, where I would be visiting for a couple of days before I return to the UK, I would have to call her to warn her, in case she thought this was a present, but her English is about as good as my Japanese so this will  be an interesting phonecall.

I found my first Koban in the south part of Tokushima City. As I walked in to Okihama Koban, all three officers present stood up and bowed to me and wished me good morning, this was a good start. I don't know if this was special treatment because I am a Gaijin (foreigner), or dressed in Henro (pilgrim) attire, or whether - as I suspect - they are always this polite. I flashed my warrant card and made my best effort at introducing myself in Japanese. Two young officers Hiroshi Ueda and Mitsuru Fukuzaki posed for photos with me, my camera died again, they gave me four new police issue batteries, and we posed again for the photos. We compared warrant cards, talked about our uniforms, carrying guns, how heavy the stab-vest is etc, all the usuall kind of chat that happens when police officers  from different forces meet up. Later on I passed another police building but it looked like a rather imposing grey office block so I carried on walking.

Walking alone for two hours, I had been chattering constantly in my head, so I took some time at Temple 18 to quieten my mind with meditation. No one else was at the temple, it was very peaceful, especially compared to the hustle and bustle of a temple when a bus party arrives. Just outside the temple I bought some 'mikan' - locally grown small oranges - from an unmanned stall on the road side. These are quite common, bags of oranges on some boards, a price written in chalk - in this case Y100, and a pot to put the money in. This is just one of many sights in Japan that make me say, "That would never happen in London!"

This evening's Ryokan has real character. As soon as I arrived I was welcome with hot tea and mochi at the table. I am sure this table must have a name, it is a large, low square table around an open fire with a grill over the fire. The bathroom was virtually outside, and I shivered while I was showering, but then the bath was so hot I could only stay in for two minutes and I glowed a warm pink for hours afterwards. At the evening meal, we ate Shiitake mushrooms grilled in front of us on the fire-table. The whole building is almost 'open plan' inside, the first floor only covers half the width of the total floor space, and the first floor walls don't reach the ceiling, so I can hear everyone in every room on both floors. Some people arrived and ate late, they carried on drinking, talking and laughing after I had gone to bed. I could hear their chatter, another two different conversations, two TV's, and people gasping in pain as they walk up and down the creaky stairs on tender feet.

  • Distance walked today = 19k
  • Distance walked so far = 102.6km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 18, Ansanji; Temple 19, Tatsueji.
  • Koban visited today = 1 visit to Okihama Koban, 1 Police office building passed by, 1 visit to Koban near Tatsueji Temple but no one home.
  • Accommodation = Ryokan including dinner and breakfast ¥6000, Funa-no-Sato Ryokan, Komatsushima City, Tokushima-ken 〒773-0017
  • Expenditure today = cardboard box ¥140, postage ¥1000, bag of oranges ¥100, call from phone box to partner's mother ¥310, two temple stamps ¥600
  • Settai = police issue batteries for camera
今日の出費:段ボール箱 140円、送料1000円、みかん袋100円、パートナーのお母さんへの電話 310円、旅館(夕・朝食付) 6000円、2寺分の御印 600円

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