I reached the temple-complex/town of Koya-san that is located on a 850m high plateau in one day and put up my tent on a small deserted playground in the middle of the town. The next day I visited many temples, walked the 2km long path, seamed with about 200.000 tombs and memorial-/gravestones, that leads to the place where Kooboo Daishi (the founder of Japanese Buddhism) is buried. And after that I tried shoojin-ryoori at one of the temples. It is the special vegetarian (+ no garlic or onions) cuisine of the monks and I have to say I never before ate such tasty vegetables and mushrooms in my life – but to be fair I also never before payed 30 euro for something like this.
I really liked Koya-san, because the whole atmosphere is way nicer than at most of the other temples I have seen, it has still something mysterious and sacred to it and the chance to try the temple cuisine in your own small traditional tatami room in of the 52 temple-lodgings (yes you could even spend the night in one of the temples) really is worth it, so I strongly recommend it if you are in the area.
After Koya-san I zigzagged somehow over Kii-hanto (Kii-peninsula) since I could not go to the southern coast or anywhere on the southwestern half due to heavy damage from the previous typhoon. One of the smaller roads had handprinted bearwarning signs and makeshift scrap metal fortifications but I luckily did not see any bears even though I heard some noises once, but they sounded more like wild boars, not that they are that much better.
On my way to the most sacred Shinto shrine of japan “Ise-jingu” I had two more days of rain (one with heavy wind gusts all day long) and I learned later that it was because of typhoon 16 passing japan not too far away. The most impressive thing about the shrine was the garden around it, with its huge ancient trees and the sheer amount of Japaneses visiting the shrine and waiting in line to speak their wishes at the almost completely hidden main shrine (5 layers of wooden wall and drapery).
In the evening of the day I passed Nagoya it started raining again. Typhoon 15, that had been lingering south of Kyushu for some time, had decided to come and pay me a visit. The first night was still ok but the wind was too strong for tenting so I slept on my mattress tugged against a wall under a not too wide roof at the Michi no Eki, avoiding to get wet only by about 20cm. The next day I decided to stay two more nights, since the peak of the typhoon would not reach me until noon the next day, but in the end it went completely different.
A Japanese man approached me and after he could not get me a better place to sleep at the michi no eki, he urged me to put my bicycle in his car so he could drive me somewhere (it was all pretty vague, since he did not speak a single word of English). After some misunderstandings concerning my travel direction and the place he wanted to drive me to we arrived at a hotel and wanted to pay for me so I could sleep there for two nights. But I refused the way to generous offer and told him to drive me back to the michi no eki. Instead of doing that he drove me to his home and offered me to sleep there until the typhoon was over – and I accepted this time. The next day he drove with me to a hotel to eat breakfast there, showed me the interesting spots of the small town, gave me home cooked/heated curry for lunch and in the evening we went to eat sushi. His son who spoke a few words of English provided me with movies to watch, so I wouldn’t get bored so I had a nice and relaxing day with an amazingly friendly Japanese family while outside the typhoon was raging like mad.
When I came through Shizuoka I stopped by the tourist information center that helped me find a nice park to camp in to say thanks to the friendly staff. After I told him from my plan to go around the Izu peninsula and reach Tokyo in 3 days he said that the peninsula would probably cost me another day. The peninsula was one of the hardest parts of my trip, since it was either going up or down very steep all the way around. So I got the chance to completely exhaust myself for a last time and was rewarded with nice views of the rugged coastline. On the second last day before arriving in Tokyo I had a flat tire, my first one, but I could fix it without any complications. So I got that experience covered too now.
I reached the 5000km mark on my last day of driving before Tokyo. I decided against staying a night somewhere in Yokohama since it was raining lightly but persistently until just before I arrived at the hostel in Tokyo and I did not want to search for a place to sleep in the rain in a city that big.
So now I’m in Tokyo, doing some sightseeing and stuff – and spending lots of money on things I held back on during my trip. But I will write about that after I finally had some sleep longer than 4-6 hours tonight!! so… “mata ne!”