Day 13: Shimanami Kaido, Part 2

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After a restful sleep, I woke up feeling rather refreshed…except for my still incredibly sore bum. Words cannot even describe it.

The Ryokan Chaume staff outdid themselves again and served up a huge Japanese breakfast for us – more grilled fresh fish (including some cooked right on our table!), seaweed, pickled veggies, and a kind of savoury omelette called “tamagoyaki.” Oh, and of course, rice and hot tea. After checking out and getting our bikes, the staff handed us each a bottled drink!

At this point, my adventure split with that of Katherine and Jr, both of whom are returning to Tokyo today (a long journey for sure!), while I continued onwards through the Shimanami Kaido, stopping in Matsuyama.

Oh, and for those of you who like pictures, I made sure to take more today!

After leaving the ryokan, I stopped at Oyamazumi Shrine, which is practically right next door to Ryokan Chaume. While Kat and Jr hopped back on their bikes, I procrastinated and walked around the shrine. It’s well regarded for having a huge collection of old samurai armour and weapons, many of them National Treasures. If you know your Japanese history or if you like samurai, then it’s well worth the visit. They had the armour and blades of Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Minamoto no Yoritomo, for example, plus the naginata blades of Benkei and Tomoe Gozen. Super cool!

Top: the entrance to the main part of Oyamazumi Shrine. Bottom: a cherry blossom tree with fortunes or prayers tied to its branches.

Besides that, they also had an interesting collection of old sea plants and of sea creatures (or parts of them in some cases) since Oyamazumi Shrine is dedicated to the god of the sea. There was a case of crabs on display, some of them small enough to fit in the palm of my hand while another was probably around 3 feet long.

I didn’t stay for long, though, because I knew I had a lot of cycling ahead of me. I hopped back on Rust Bucket again and went on my way.

Luckily, the weather was beautiful – sunny with enough of a breeze to keep one cool. My face is a bit burnt from yesterday, though, and I could feel the sun’s intensity on my skin at times. I wished I had brought a hat!

After clearing Omishima Island, I got to ride on its Omishima arch bridge, a nice change from all the other suspension bridges. The incline towards it wasn’t too bad so I stopped for some pictures. There were some lovely cherry blossoms around the area, too.

Top: the Omishima bridge. Bottom: some cherry blossoms overlooking the sea.

I continued on, feeling rather good. Must have been that drink the ryokan ladies gave me. I stopped at a little seaside park on Hakatajima, the next island after Omishima, to have a snack (the orange the kind old lady gave me yesterday) and some water, and also to get some shade, as the sun had been beating down on me. I had a nice view of the next bridge, the Hakata-Oshima Bridge, from my bench, too.

After, I missed a discreet turn that would take me to the bridge and instead kept going straight up a hill and down it. I then realized the bridge was rather far behind me, so I once more made the strenuous climb up and found the turn. My poor legs! On the bright side, I got a nice view at the top of said hill.

Top-left: the Hakata-Oshima Bridge (or rather, half of it; the far half is obscured by trees). Bottom-left: the view from the hill where I got a bit lost. There were whirlpools in this area, too, which I thought was pretty cool. Right: gifts! The drink and toothpicks from the ryokan staff and the orange from the lady we met yesterday.

Next came my shame. I biked a couple of kilometres into Oshima and gave up, returning Rust Bucket to one of the bike rental terminals around the Shimanami Kaido, then took a couple of buses the rest of the way to Imabari. My pride took a hit, but my bum is thanking me immensely. According to my map, I biked about 25 km today, which I still think is respectable for someone who never bikes.

At Imabari Station, I picked up some melon brad and a drink, then waited on the platform. While waiting for the train, I bumped into a Japanese cyclist who had also cycled the Shimanami Kaido. He had a basic command of English and between that and whatever I knew of Japanese, we were able to converse a little. He gave me some more gifts, another orange and some candy. Man, people here are so nice!

I took the train to Matsuyama Station, then a streetcar to the Dogo Onsen area, where my next hostel is near. The Sen Guesthouse Matsuyama is run by a couple where the wife is Japanese and the husband is American. I gotta say, after hearing nothing but Japanese for the last 13 days, it’s a bit weird hearing North American English again (that is, aside from Kat and Jr). I got a pretty good run-down of all the interesting places around here, though, which I will tackle tomorrow.

For now, it’s nothing but rest for me! Oh, and a trip to Dogo Onsen of course!ni’ll write about Dogo Onsen tomorrow though.

And one last picture:

Rust Bucket, meet the readers. Readers, meet Rust Bucket, my rusted sidekick through this part of my adventure.

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