Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A Confusing End, but an End Nonetheless - 7th June 2015 (Day 53)

I awoke early quite early, conscious that people may be coming up to this place in droves on a Sunday, and went to unzip the outer fly of the tent and found it was sopping wet. I was sure it hadn't been raining, but when I got outside everything was drenched. I thought about it and reasoned it must have been dew caused clouds rolling on through throughout the night. So I had to spend extra time drying everything, including my backpack, which I had left outside to act as an anchor for my tent fly. It didn't matter though, I only had twenty kilometres or so to go today, and then I would be done!

I finished another pack of noodles and curry for breakfast, with the two mandarins I bought the day before, and after my stuff had sufficiently dried out I packed it up, had one last look at the view, and set off for the final push:

Definitely one of the best spots I stayed at
The trail led me down the mountain and then along small trails that passed through rice fields and mountain roads on the outskirts of Osaka.

Such as this
And this
This was on one of the mountain roads I walked along. Thought it was funny that someone had gone to the trouble of putting an umbrella over it.
At one point I rounded the corner of one of these roads and found a van stopped with a family standing around looking at something in front of the car. I moved to the front and saw a boulder about the size of a fridge sitting in the middle of the road, making it all but impassable. There was dirt and smaller rocks all around it, and it had obviously only recently fallen down in a rock slide, maybe due to all the rain the area had the other day. I asked if I could help in any way but the father said there was no way this could be moved by just us. I took a look at it and agreed; I doubted ten strong men could have moved it. Luckily they weren't trapped in and could take the long way around.

I continued on with a feeling of eagerness to get to the end of the track and moved quicker than I think I had at any other point on this trip. My GPS indicated the trail finished at Minoo station, but first I had to pass through the visitors centre at the base of the forrest I was in, then down a mountain road and through the outskirts of the town. What I didn't realise was that the trail actually officially ended at the visitors centre. I had no idea of this, and by the time I got there around noon I needed to use the toilet so bad I ran past all the signs indicating it was the end and rushed straight to the loo. I had a short break there, unaware that I had actually finished the Tokai Shizen Hodo, and then continued on for another 25 minutes before coming to this sign:

It indicated that the entrance to the Tokai Shizen Hodo was 1.8 kilometres back the way I came!
Oh shit! Well... I thought about going back and getting a photo at the trail head, but, to hell with it! I'd finished the bloody thing hadn't I, whether I knew it at the time or not! I felt a bit robbed of the celebratory moment I had planned though, and was not in the best mood. What didn't make it any better was that the final path leading down to the town of Minoo was full of tourists and screaming children I had to dodge left right and centre:

It was a Sunday

And people were out in force to enjoy their weekend
A sign down the bottom did indeed confirm I had missed the finish
So I was in quite a foul mood by the time I got into the outskirts of Minoo. But, as I neared the station the voice of reason spoke up in my head, and I thought bugger it, I had finished the walk whether I knew it at the time or not, and here I was just a few steps from the train station that signaled the true end of my journey. It was like I had suddenly flipped a switch and I felt okay again, and I actually had a big laugh to myself about the fact that I had trekked over a thousand kilometres, over mountains, sometimes through rainstorms and other times through sweltering heat, only to miss the official ending of the trail because I was busting to go to the toilet. So with these thoughts in mind, put aside any regrets I had and resolved to count the station as the real end of my walking trip:

And soon I finally could see my final destination 
It was all coming to an end. Did a big swell of emotion rush over me like I expected?
Nope, I just felt pretty good to be finished and rather hungry to be honest.
So I got someone to to take a photo of me, and then rushed of to find some food!
And so I was finished the Tokai Shizen Hodo, fifty three days after I had started it on the 14th of April. After getting some food at a nearby convenience store, I just sat down outside the train station for half and hour, partly to take in the fact I had finished the trail, and partly to let my sweat dry so I wasn't that slippery guy when I boarded the train to take me into Osaka. I then got on the train, and made my way to the hotel I had booked for the night. For 1000yen a night, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found:

It has had it's highs and it's lows, but it has been a great experience all and all. Everyday I got to see something beautiful, and often met lovely people who helped me in some way. At no time have I had a negative reaction, everyone was polite and nothing but helpful. My gear held up fine, with no major complaints, I even ended up throwing some of it out because I had no need for it. And I feel like all the time to myself without distractions has helped me learn a lot about myself.

I'm going to relax for the next few days and have a holiday from my holiday. At some point in the next few weeks I am going to begin writing a practical guide to walking the trail for those who want to do the trail in the future.

I want to thank everyone who has shown me support in some way, it has all made this goal much easier to achieve in every way.

Distance: 18.5 km


  1. Thank you so much for typing all this out (in addition to your guide). I've been looking for a good long distance trail in Japan for a while and haven't had any luck until I ran across your website. My plans for 2018 are set in stone now, reading about your trek was a lot of fun. I can't believe this trail isn't more well known, it looks amazing.

  2. That was a very enjoyable read. Very well written and so interesting.
    Thank you!

  3. Hi Tom my partner and I go to Japan whenever the funds allow and we generally stick to the backblocks rather than the cities (escape the tourists) lol. Reading your blog reminds me of all that I miss about Japan, the amazing people, awesome food and of course the beautiful countryside. Thank you to a beautiful lady, Jo, for putting me onto your blog. :)
    Thanks for a great read! Rick n Janice