Gordon:  Last night, together with two Japanese cyclists, we slept in a small dormitory.  The notable aspect of this experience was that we were sleeping in beds for only the third time on the trip.  Most of the time we are sleeping on the floor on a thin futon rolled out on tatami mats.  I find it comfortable enough, but in some ways it is not dissimilar to expensive camping.  There are occasionally chairs on a surface adjacent to the tatami mats, but usually the only furniture is a low table.  Ruth discretely places her folding camp chair on a futon (to protect the tatami) and I slump down against a wall or a folded futon.  I enjoy the simplicity and cleanliness of the tatami rooms, but it is a bit of an effort getting up and down.  I wonder if it becomes a struggle for elderly Japanese.

In ryokan and minshuku (traditional Japanese inns) we are usually served our multi-course meals at a conventional table.  However, at one ryokan we had dinner and breakfast at a low table in a tatami room.  I was reminded that during my life I should have done yoga, as well as running and cycling, because I found eating at the low table quite uncomfortable.  This is clearly not the case for the Japanese.  The town where we are currently staying, Susaki, is renowned for its version of ramen noodles.  Consequently, we went to a small, local noodle house for lunch.  It was divided in half, with western style tables on one side and low Japanese tables on the other.  As I entered I thought there were no patrons, because the western tables were all unoccupied.  Then I turned my head and saw that the low tables were crowded with diners.  Even if there had been room at the low tables, our preference was clear.  We enjoyed delicious “more bigger” portions of noodles at one of the high tables.

Ruth: Our ride/ walk today was over a corrugated peninsula with spikes of land jutting out in all directions. It was absolutely stunning. The google maps screen shot gives some sense of the landscape here. 

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