Ozaki to Nahari 

(54 KMs)

Tuesday 17th October

Ozaki - Nahari

Monet's Garden

We agreed to meet for breakfast at 8am and most of the pilgrims had departed by then.  It had been a full house, and the owners were delighted.  She was from Tokyo and had been on a pilgrimage when she stayed at Minshuku Tokumasu and met her now husband.  That was 7 years ago, and they appeared to have built up a thriving business.  One of the reasons we had chosen to stay was the advertising that his grandmother was cooking the meals at aged 88.  She had died recently aged 102 so the advertising was a little out of date. Breakfast was an interesting mix of Japanese dishes including tofu, salad, squid, seaweed accompanied by a fried egg and ham.  There was also a weird dish that looked like pale coffee beans and had a slightly coffee flavour - not a dish we were keen to try again.

As we were taking our bikes out of the storage shed, Julie discovered that she had a travelling companion.  The husband advised that it was not poisonous and picked it off the bike and let it go in the garden. 

The early signs of the dramatic Geopark coastline were just ahead as we left the guesthouse.  Our first stop was the Muroto Geopark Information Centre to find out a little more about available walks.  I was communicating with the information staff via Google translate when they called for another lady who spoke good English.  It turned out she had been to Australia twice and spent time in Sydney and Wollongong, whilst her husband had spent 11 months cycling round Australia. She had just moved to the area from Tokyo and her challenge was to settle into Japanese rural life.

We passed the statue of Young Kukai, a Buddhist monk, born in Shikoku and credited for establishing the Shikoku Pilgrimage.  We saw a lot of pilgrims during the day - far more than we had seen previously. We passed a group of Buddhist statues wearing red bibs. The colour red, in Japan, wards away illness and danger.

We parked our bikes near an observation tower and wandered some of the winding paths to admire the rock formations.  We are rather spoilt by the Australian coastline, so it was a quick visit.  Julie spent the time paddling in a rockpool.  Andrew and I then climbed the observation tower, whilst Simon made coffee in the information centre below - the staff seemed delighted to have company and were happy for us to use their benches, where it was nice and cool.  We shared our snacks and they gave use something called “ginger” to try - it was like a sweet potato crisp. 

We continued on towards Muroto, rounding the cape and heading north.  The shoreline was dirty and uninviting, though we did pass through the occasional picturesque fishing village.  We stopped for lunch at Kiragawa - with its streets lined with traditional buildings. We found a little grocery store and gathered supplies for lunch including sashimi tuna, salads, and a few treats from the little bakery across the road. 

It was only another 10kms or so to our accommodation at Hotel Nihari, where we were able to check in early and leave our panniers in our rooms before heading on the Monet’s Garden just 3kms up the road in Kitagawa Village.  The Garden is designed to capture the spirit of Monet’s gardens at Giverny in France.  Unfortunately it was up a long, steep hill, so we were hoping it was worth it.  It definitely was! There was a beautiful water pond and the Bodighera Garden which included yuzu trees as well as some Mediterranean plants.  We stopped for a refreshing drink of Yuzu juice before returning to our bikes via the Forest trail. 

It was a quick trip back and Simon and I decided to try our first Japanese bath - which was a real treat after a few days cycling. 

Our first public bath (this was not an onsen as its water source was not a natural spring) was an interesting experience as I wasn’t quite sure exactly what to do.  When I entered the baths, there was one woman dressing and no one in the bath area.  I had read that you had to be careful not to splash when washing but with no one to see, I could use the shower and little bucket with abandon.  The bath was delightful with jets ideally positioned to massage tired shoulders.  A few minutes later another woman entered the bath so I could surreptitiously watch the correct washing and bathing procedure.  There seemed to be a lot of washing, as she cleaned herself, hopped into the indoor pool for a minute or two, washed again, then visited the outdoor pool, then washed again and finished in the indoor pool.  I couldn’t go wrong following her approach and was nice and clean by the end. 

We had opted for the Tuna Tosa, given that the area was renowned for its deep sea tuna fishing .  The hotel was founded in 1980 to accommodate workers on fishing boats.  We had opted for the Tosa Tuna dinner and it was already laid out as we entered our own private dining room.  The meal consisted of different types of tuna sashimi, tuna skin vinegar, negatory, swordfish tuna chilli oil cucumber, fried tuna cheek meat, roasted swordfish, tuna kinumaki, rice, soup and Tosa ice cream for dessert.  It looked amazing - who knew that you could eat tuna in so many different ways.  It was absolutely delicious, with the highlights being the swordfish cooked in its own little dish, the sashimi and fried tuna cheek meat.