I’m out of the guesthouse and onto a bus early again. Today will be from the northwest side of Tokushima clear through to the southeast so I only take my daypack and leave my full pack on the bed – the guesthouse is untended so I fire off an email to the owner to let him know I’d like to stay another night but don’t hear back from him before I leave, I just throw 2000 yen under a little statue like I’d done the night before and hope this is okay with him.
From the bus I beeline it into Kokubunji to get the stamp I missed yesterday and head for nearby numbers sixteen and seventeen, Kannonji and Idoji, both within five kilometres. This is just a walk through the suburbs via sidewalk, it’s not a trail and nothing in the way of scenery, just people doing their suburb things.
By 10:38 I’ve got three temples into my nokyo-cho, but the next one is 20+ kilometres away and the route runs right through the middle of the city. I put my head down and walk and enjoy the sunny weather – a lot of the streets I’m walking down are the same streets I’d been on when I first arrived and was just roaming around.
I’m out the other end of the city by mid-afternoon and my surroundings have turned to fields and orchards, but I’m still walking along a highway until shortly before I reach temple eighteen, Onzanji. It’s reached through a short walk through the woods.
The route from Onzanji to number nineteen, Tatsueji, takes me a bit more off-road. After cutting through a cattle farm I follow a dirt track into a bamboo forest, the wind has picked up and the tops of the bamboo are crashing into each other with violent snapping sounds. I then cut through the middle of an orchard and into someone’s backyard when I hear someone’s voice yelling at me. A little old lady is waving me down. She gives me two caramels and smiles and after asking where I’m from (“America? Deutsche?”) sends me on my way. I reach Tatsueji a few kilometres later.
There’s a train station almost directly behind the temple so I head over to wait for the next ride into the city. I get talking to an Aussie named Paul who’s doing the same kind of thing – walking the whole island with camping gear but staying in guesthouses and hiking with minimal equipment when he’s in the proximity of a city. We shoot the shit on the ride back to Tokushima Station, he’s an interesting guy, a cop in Sydney who’s fluent in Japanese – he lived here twenty-odd years ago for several years and married a Japanese girl. We shake hands as we leave the station, our timelines are similar so we’re sure we’ll cross paths again.
After a big plate of CoCoIchi curry I head back to the guesthouse. No one’s inside but the chalkboard that welcomed me the other day (“Welcome Mr. James!”) now only has Japanese characters on it. Hmmm. I go to the room and all of my stuff is gone. Fuuuuck. I’d left my computer behind today so I can’t even email the guy who runs the place. There’s a phone number in the kitchen that I write down and head out to find a payphone.
The first three phones I try are non-functioning but finally I find one that works inside of Tokushima Station. It’s loud and I can’t understand the guy because of a bad connection but he explains that someone else rented the entire guesthouse for this evening and he had to move my stuff, then he gives me vague directions to something. I don’t know if I’m supposed to meet him or what and before I can figure it out the phone disconnects me and I don’t have any more change. I just start walking in the direction he told me.
Twenty minutes later I’m walking around but I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve already done 30+ km today so all this extra walking is kind of pissing me off. I break a bill and go back to the payphone and try again. Again I can’t really understand him and again I get cut off and run out of change.
Plan B. He mentioned an email so I decide I need to find an internet cafe. There’s a tourist info centre inside of Tokushima Station, I sneak in just as they’re locking up for the night and one of the girls behind the desk gives me a map to the nearest internet cafe. I follow the map and head up the stairs of the building but it looks to be closed down, the only thing inside seems to be some kind of private school. A teenage girl gives me a curious look as I’m wandering back and forth past her with a map in my hand.
Maybe I got the wrong building. Onto the sidewalk I run up the stairs of the next building, then the next. No luck. I pass by the teenager from the school a second and then a third time when she asks me “What are you looking for?” I explain and she laughs and says “Not around here” but she waves down a random guy walking past and asks him, he Googles it and finds one about a kilometre away. He holds out his phone with Google Maps open while I take a picture with my camera, I thank them both and head out.
I overshoot the place but after some further back and forth I find it and get into my email where I find detailed directions to a new apartment where I can find my stuff. Phew. I take several pictures with my camera and head back to where I came from – coincidentally the apartment is in the building I was standing next to when I got directions.
My feet are killing me when I finally arrive and I crawl into bed and pass out. This place is much smaller than the other, only three beds and no real kitchen. I’ve got it to myself until 10:30 when two guys come in and throw their things down and say sorry. They head out then come back in at midnight and wake me up a second time and this time I can’t get back to sleep until almost three o’clock. Sleeping in a tent is looking pretty good right now.