Ishiyamadera Eki 石山寺駅 to Uji 宇治

Miki and I trained it to Ishiyamadera, to continue another section of the TSH there. Just off the train, I opened my mouth to say something, only to take a full blast of smoke from some guy walking a few steps ahead of me. I appreciated neither the tobacco, nor the other bits of black sludge that he'd just expelled from his lungs. Truly foul. Today's walk, and the day itself, offered little to better my spirits. It was a long 22km over paved roads. Aside from the pleasant Iwamadera, where Basho supposedly heard the

Old pond's frog splash

(Voila! Revisionist minimalist haiku!)

and the subsequent long steep descent over slippery leaves, we rarely left the hard stuff. Not many cars, but the feet do ache after awhile. Plus curve after curve of garbage laden hillsides. Having recently taken part in the clean-up of a similar hillside, I know how much work it will take to restore this area. Really depressing. We quickly and nervously went past a gun range, and the only real open space we found, where we'd hoped to rest and lunch, was being used as a landing zone by a gang of remote-controlled helicopter pilot otaku. At the very end of the walk we were rewarded with another short bit of forest, but it was the verge of dusk and we lost the light quickly. This is the first time this has happened to us. On two occasions we passed a single lone man walking without a torch, both acting shady. At the end, we were rewarded by a beautiful night view of Uji from atop the mountain behind Ujigami Shrine. Overall, it hardly seemed worth, as we'd done most of this walk already a year ago, though in reverse. If we'd known this this morning, we wouldn't have bothered. Multiple experiences have shown that any hike in or out of Uji involves long stretches of asphalt. I recommend the train...

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