English Guide Practice on the Kumano Kodo
Five members walked in the Chikatsuyu and Nonaka areas to practice English guiding on Sunday, February 26th. There was some very light rain as we drove through Oto, but only light clouds in Chikatsuyu that burned off by lunchtime. It was warm for February, but by the end of our walk in the afternoon the clouds had returned with a cold wind.
After parking in the large lot in Chikatsuyu we walked to Aruki-no-sato, the new complex of tour bus lot, souvenir stores, and cafeteria, and waited for the shuttle bus. The bus runs to various popular trailheads, making walking on the Kodo very easy.
While waiting we saw some displays on local newts and loaches in aquariums, as well as some pets they keep there. We shuttled to the trailhead for Gyuba-doji, the well known statue on this route, and walked back into Chikatsuyu.
Gyuba-doji is a memorial to the retired emperor Kazan that was carved in the Meiji period. More interesting than the Gyuba-doji statue for me was the stone pagoda (宝篋印塔, houkyouintou) that predates Kazan’s visit; legend has it that he buried his robe and sutras under the pagoda.
After descending into Chikatsuyu we returned to Aruki-no-sato for lunch and took another shuttle bus, this time in the opposite direction, toward Nonaka. We were dropped near Nonaka no shimizu, a pure mountain spring where we stretched and refilled our water bottles.
Along the very peaceful path through Nonaka and back toward Chikatsuyu we saw a string of Oji shrines, some huge old growth cryptomerias, the graveyard of local warrior heroes, and a rare flower that a local guide had told us to be on the watch for.