We began today early, because we had to catch a train at 9:04. My breakfast was just as delicious & unhealthy as yesterday's :)
We managed a quick Face Time with Brendan before finishing the packing & cleaning/checking the house. We've been so lucky with the weather this trip, and today was our first day with steady rain. We got geared-up & headed out wearing all of our warm clothes.
In the ten minutes to the station, even with an umbrella, things got pretty soaked.
But we were on time for first train (pictured above)! It was 40 minutes to Utsumiya & our first Shinkansen of the day.
And then 45 minutes to Tokyo station, where we planned to meet our friend Marian, who's been teaching English in Tokyo for 20 years, and who is accompanying us to Matsuyama. We wanted to be seated together, so we had this great idea that we'd buy the tickets together, then meet Marian at the station, hand her her set of tickets & all get on the train. With a 12 minute layover. You know what's coming next, don't you?
We met Marian, managed to get her the right set of tickets, and she set off to the gate, which wasn't where we'd met her. We were looking for her, realized that she was at the proper gate, & got to the Shinkansen gate just as the train was leaving... argh! Another first for us in Japan. We missed a train.
We were able to get new tickets for the next 2 trains to Matsuyama, but Marian was on the earlier train & my vision of a happy time catching up (we haven't seen her since last summer) evaporated :(
We caught the next Shinkansen, to Okayama, which took a couple hours. We had lunch, too, since it was after noon. I ate things that would cheer me up- the senbei I'd cooked myself with the kids, the rest of the yummy marmalade on the rest of the yummy bread from breakfast, & honey-lemon juice.
We saw some impressive scenery on the way south. I played a game for a bit, where I took a photo of the first thing you could see when we'd come out of a tunnel. There were a lot of tunnels!
Once we got to Okayama, we left the speedy Shinkansen for a "limited express" train to Matsuyama, which is at the southern end of the island of Shikoku, a 3-hour trip.
To get onto the island, the train crosses at least 3 bridges connected by small islands. It is pretty impressive scenery, with the ocean & mountains in the background, & which the iPhone just can't do justice to.
Around 4 pm Charlie & I shared a snack of egg salad sandwich, Japanese-style.
We also took another train selfie, for fun.
I spent part of the trip emailing with Marian to compare notes on where we all were. Plus, the limited express train stopped at 13 stations in that 3 hours, so every time we slowed down I hit Pokestops & caught critters :)
We made it to Matsuyama by 7:30 pm & took a taxi (a Prius V!!) to our hotel, where Marian was waiting for us in the lobby. We had them hold our luggage while we went to dinner. The hotel is right downtown in Matsuyama, so there were a lot of places around, but so many were full of cigarette smoke :( My asthma can't handle that, so it took us a while, but we finally found an Italian restaurant that smelled good! We ordered a bottle of Prosecco & a few main dishes to share. They were all very delicious, but thanks to the Prosecco, there are no photos :)
Tomorrow we are planning to see Matsuyama-Jo, the castle on the top of a hill right in the middle of town. The weather should be great & I am really looking forward to it!