17/5/16. (Thanks to Ged on Twitter for introducing us to that word which sums up brilliantly what we experienced today.)
With the bikes loaded,our first objective was a nearby camping shop to buy some gas for the stove. We then threaded our way along very narrow roads through what is probably Osaka’s suburbia but which feels very different to suburban sprawl back home. There were many traditional looking houses and the gardens all looked incredibly neat and tidy with trees, in particular, clipped and trained into fascinating shapes. On the way we passed a sign pointing to a large tower block (there are a few) indicating that it was a tsunami refuge (in English as well as Japanese).
After about 25 km of dead flat roads through the towns we reached the countryside and the route turned upwards – not very steep really but more than enough to test four legs that have done only one day’s cycling in the last six weeks. We had been heading parallel to but not in sight of the sea since the start, but we were soon hugging the coast.
As Christine pushed up a hill a car pulled alongside and a lady asked where we were headed (“Wakayama”) and where we were staying (“We don’t know. We’ll find somewhere when we get there.”). She immediately insisted that we stay in their house and would brook no refusal (hence why “kindnapping” is such a great description!) – not that we really took much persuading.
We headed back to the house which was only a couple of hundred metres away and Mickey (“My friends all call me that as my Japanese name is long”) and Hado showed us to a “granny annex” in the boatyard that is next to the house. It comprises two rooms – a living room, with no furniture other than a 9 inch high table and two futons in the corner, and a bathroom with no toilet (there is an outside loo as part of the house).
Mickey and Hado left us to settle in while they went off to the shops. When they returned, they handed us our dinner and breakfast which they had just bought specially for us. It seemed a little odd to us that they did not ask us into the house for dinner when they clearly had many questions and were extremely friendly, but this must be the Japanese “way”.