This was probably the most spectacular day of our whole trip to Japan, in terms of scenery at the very least. Tomoko & Nobuko-san met us at our hotel, where Tomoko's friend Yuka-san was meeting us with a rented mini-van to take us sightseeing for the day. Yuka-san & her husband did medical fellowships at the U of R when Tomoko was there working on her Masters', so she speaks English, & as I mentioned yesterday, Tomoko put us in touch with her when we decided to visit Matsuyama. Yuka-san is from here & obviously really loves her home & the Island of Shikoku. She is a researcher, looking into treatments for epilepsy, & took a day off (& rented a van!) to take the 5 of us to some of her favourite places here.
Somehow I ended-up in the front seat, so I got a chance to chat with Yuka-san quite a bit on the trip. Charlie was right behind us, so he could chime in too. Not far into the ride we discovered that we are both knitters! She got into knitting quite a bit while she lived in Rochester & has continued since returning to Matsuyama. We had so much fun talking crafting along the way! Yuka-san also explained that today's trip would take us along the Shinanami Kaido (Shinanami Oceanside Road) which is only reachable by car or bus. We would head north, to the series of little islands that connect Shikoku to the mainland of Japan.
First stop was the Ishitegawa Dam, a very picturesque place indeed:
Next, we took a short hop to a veggie stand and small shop. Our trusty mini van is parked outside:
We hopped back in the van & got on a toll highway, like the NYS Thruway, which led across a series of bridges & through tunnels- destination: Ikuchijima Island.
|The mountains here, being volcanic, are so different from our NYS glacier ones.|
After this we decided to get serious about lunch. Yuka-san drove back toward Imabari to find a good restaurant. We decided to stop at the Gusto Skylark family Restaurant (Charlie had been wanting to eat in a family restaurant here, so he got his chance!). Family restaurants serve mostly western-style food, but with a Japanese spin. Hamburgers come with a topping of grated daikon radish, not a bun, as Charlie found out. Brendan found a yummy pizza:
Our next stop was quite close to home, the Ishiteji (stone-hand-temple) in Matsuyama, not far from the Dogo Onsen. This is not only a working Buddhist Temple, but a major stop on the 88 temples pilgrimage route that Shikoku is famous for. The temple was founded in the 8th century, but some of the buildings had to be rebuilt in the 16th after an earthquake.
Amazing, amazing day!!!