For the first time a while, I slept in…well, slept in until about 8:30, which to me, is sleeping in. My two other roommates were up earlier and packed up their things and checked out. I took my time waking up, waited til they left, and then got up and ready myself.
I didn’t end up leaving until about 9:30am. Despite the extra sleep, I felt a bit sluggish. I made my way to Imabari Station, which was practically next door, and went into the bakery/café there. I picked out a variety of pastries and ordered some milk tea, then sat down and enjoyed. I felt happy and relaxed, having nowhere in particular to go and delicious bread in my stomach. Again, any change from the traditional rice, fish, and soup was a welcome change.
I wandered around for a bit after. I entered the covered shopping arcade, but it was still a bit early for most shops to be open. There was a café called Café Warm that was labelled on the map the hostel staff had given me, so I headed there. Thankfully, they were open. They had a simple Bohemian-like design that was appealing to me. I was welcomed by a young woman who gave me a menu and a glass of ice water (restaurants always seem to give you ice water when you first come in0.
Luckily, the menu was mostly in katakana, so I could understand most of it. I ordered some coffee, still feeling a bit sleepy. When I asked about another item on the menu I was unsure about, she said, in very clear English, “Oh, you speak English?” She tried finding the English menu for me but could not, but I assured her that I could read katakana just fine and was happy with coffee. I asked her where she became so good at English and she said her husband was Brazilian, so English was the language they used to communicate with each other.
I sipped at my coffee while surfing the Internet on my phone. When I was finished, a man who was obviously not Japanese took my payment for the coffee. I asked if he was the Brazilian man, and he was surprised that I knew. I told him I had asked his wife, haha. We chatted for a bit and he was quite friendly. We talked about our experiences in Japan, about how I was doing the pilgrimage, how he had learned more English while living in Ireland for a while, and was now living in Japan because he had met and married his wife. He told me about how Imabari castle was just a few minutes away, so encouraged, I decided to check it out.
Imabari Castle is one of the few “water castles” in Japan, being surrounded by a moat that uses water from the nearby sea (and as a result, there are saltwater fish that can be seen in the moat sometimes). However, it is a rebuilt castle, being rebuilt only in 1980, so it is not an original castle, like Matsuyama Castle or Kochi Castle. Still, it was quite beautiful and I enjoyed it. I paid to go up the main tower, and some of the historical artifacts, like samurai armor, were interesting to look at. The observation deck on the top level was nice, but it was too cloudy to see much, unfortunately.
The ticket I bought would also grant me access to the four surrounding guard towers along the perimeter, but the main tower had no elevator, so I had already gone up and down several flights of stairs. I was trying to rest my knee, not make it worse, so I decided to skip them.
After leaving the castle, I stopped by a drug store to buy a new knee compression bandage (as my other knee is showing signs of getting sore due to compensating for the irritated left one). I then got a bit lost and ended up taking the long route back to the hostel. Still, I stopped by a convenience store to buy something for lunch, then took it back to the hostel.
After, I was feeling tired still, so I went back to my dorm room, did a bit of reading, then took a much-needed nap. I woke up by about 6pm, but because I hadn’t been particularly active today and I had a bit of a late lunch, I wasn’t feeling too hungry. Instead of going to a yakitori restaurant like I planned, I went to the nearby convenience store and bought a small dinner.
I ate in the hostel’s common area and talked to a woman who was from near Tokyo. She was visiting her daughter, who will be having a school tennis tournament. Apparently, this school’s tennis coach is famous in Japan, which is why her daughter is studying so far from home. I commended her bravery for moving out at such a young age and for her dedication to the sport!
Around 9pm, I said my good nights, showered, and got ready for bed. The temples would be waiting for me tomorrow.