Tanabe, Wakayama Pref. – “Oh, dear, it’s that Kamakura boy! Welcome, now, honey.” Kazuko Ando, the owner of Jurin Kissa near Kii-Nagashima, Mie Prefecture, has run her kissaten (or kissa, an old Japanese-style cafe) since 1978. She exudes grace, wears a head scarf and intones with the accent of the Kii Peninsula, which features a kind of sing-songy rise at the end of sentences — arigaTŌ!
I order some toast and an iced coffee and tell her I can’t stay long. She scrunches her brow and says, “Honey, I know, you never stay long.” Which is true. I’ve been to Jurin four times over the past two years, always in the middle of a big walk, and I’m shocked and delighted each time Ando remembers me. This time, it’s May 2021, and I’m walking some 435 kilometers around the peninsula, along the Ise-ji and Ohechi Kumano Kodo UNESCO World Heritage routes of Mie and Wakayama prefectures.
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