Looong day. Took off from Dubai at 03:20 (08:20 Tokyo time). Landed in Osaka at 17:20, hour taxi ride to the station, then trains for Onomichi. Got to hotel at 21:45, so travelled for 13 hours or so!
Straight to the bar for a couple of drinks (had food on the train) then a good nights sleep…
With weather looking dodgy later in the day, and still feeling knackered after the show, decided to drop the cycling plan and stay in Onomichi to stroll along their temple walk. Fresh start, around 10 deg C, but soon had a sweat going since the temples are scattered up and down the hillside above the town.
Wonderful views, with a surprisingly large number of temples to see – the town was largely unscathed during WWII, and the route leads you past houses and buildings that haven’t changed in a very long time indeed. The ‘Japan snapshot’ image has 3 archetypes of Japan – schoolgirls in pinafores, overhead wires, and the ubiquitous vending machines.
Took the ropeway up on to Mount Senkoji for great views and ice cream. Sakura (cherry blossom) is just starting to come out, this site will look beautiful in a weeks time. Slightly concerned by the cat pictures on the café menu – ingredients? Here’s the panorama video:
Then made it to Tranquillo for lunch – this was the awesome pizza place we found last year. Deep fried whole shrimp on a pizza – heads and all – yum!
Local bus down through the islands, along the Shimanami Kaido highway that would have been my route (see blog entry from last year). Final suspension bridge very impressive indeed.
Then train to Yawatahama via Matsuyama. Near disaster – didn’t realize there were 2 trains in the same platform at my connection point, nearly went back the way I had come. Got the connection with a minute to spare.
So I had a few hours to kill in Yawatahama before my midnight ferry. What a jumping joint it was – not! But did find a great bowl of ramen in a little restaurant. However the sanitaryfacilities were interesting – the further south I go, the more squat toilets I’m encountering. This one was very practical – if you look on the top of the cistern, you’ll see that there is a sink – so once you flush, the incoming (clean) refill water can be used to wash your hands!
Got to the ferry port – deserted. Couple of hours still, not sure if I’ll be traveling alone… Nope, 30 or so fellow passengers, including truck drivers taking their vehicles to Beppu. Glad I booked first class, cabin to myself – not that I slept much with the vibration. They clearly miss summer, as the temperature of the inside of the cabins seemed to be approaching that of the surface of the sun.