Islands in the Sun (and Mist & Rain)

28-30/5/16. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, the weather over the last few days has been variable – Saturday was cloudy and misty, Sunday started out very misty and rain came in the afternoon, while today, Monday, was gloriously sunny and hot.

We have spent all three days at the same campsite on Omishima island taking the opportunity to go for day rides around the islands sans baggage.

On Saturday we headed back the way we had come over 2 bridges to the first island, Ohshima (not Omishima where we are camping or Oshima which is another island – confusing or what?), where we did a “lap”. The only real stop we made was at a rose garden where there were some beautiful blooms but the planting was a little unimaginative compared to some gardens (if you were being unkind you would say it looked as if it had been designed by 2 accountants!). While we were on an ice cream stop, four young cyclists pulled up, two of whom were wearing kit emblazoned with the name Pearson, which is a bike shop in Sutton – about 5 miles from home. They were impressed and fascinated when we had a chat with them but we were not able to understand why they were wearing this kit.

On Sunday, while Christine had her pill and then went for a walk, Stephen took off for a quick blast on his bike round the island on which we are camping. The mist restricted the views somewhat but what could be seen was rather lovely. Meeting up again, we headed off for a short ride but has barely started when so did the rain. We canned the ride and hid in a nearby cafe before making a dash for the onsen.

This has become a regular ritual each evening that we have been on Omishima, because the onsen is so close and reasonable (¥310 or £2 each). It really is a great way to end to a day’s cycling. The real highlight for Christine was having her back scrubbed by a 90 (yes, nine zero!) old lady who also gave her some origami figures and a hat (just wait for the photo to be uploaded!)

Today, we crossed the remaining bridges, except for the ninth and last which is cars only, bikes and pedestrians have to take the ferry to reach the city of Onimichi on Honshu, the main island of Japan. As we intend passing back this way when going from Hiroshima to Kyoto and Tokyo we turned back “home” without taking the ferry over to the city itself which reportedly has a pretty area of old houses and a castle that we could see on the hilltop.

Not surprisingly, Saturday and Sunday were far busier than Monday in terms of bike numbers on the route. The “Pearson Two” told us that cyclists from all over Japan are attracted to it – and we can see why. The interesting thing about the cyclists who we saw on Monday was that around 50% of them were Westerners, unlike over the weekend when, although there were some, they were vastly outnumbered by the locals. As everyone seemed fixed on enjoying the weather and the cycling, we didn’t catch anyone’s eye to have a chat so we can only suppose that the many foreigners to help out with English language in schools here have Mondays “off”.

The low point for Stephen was being told to put his cap on (helmets not mandatory in Japan) as his scalp was very red. The bald spot is increasing in size!

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