18/5/16. The dinner was excellent (not “heavy” on sushi as we had thought it was going to be based on Mickey’s questions and comments before they went shopping) and was washed down with a can of beer for Stephen and one of a “lady’s drink” for Christine (which turned out to be similar to but not exactly like a shandy). The effect of the fresh air and exercise after the long layoff saw us turning in at about 7.30 – not unusual for christine but almost unheard of for Stephen! And we had a very comfortable night on the futons.
Once we were all packed and ready to go, we called in at the house to give our thanks and say goodbye. Mickey invited us in for coffee and to tell us that she and Hado had been reading our blog after running it through Google Translate. She then offered to write down the Japanese for key phrases which we might need, such as “Where is the nearest campsite?”, and Hado laminated them for us. She also said that if we called her mobile she would do “distant translating* if we are struggling to communicate. Wasn’t that kind?
As we were leaving we were handed a bag of “emergency food” which Hado had got for us. This included green tea Oreo cookies and green tea KitKats. So far we have only tried the latter and they were surprisingly scrumptious despite their strange (to Western eyes) look.
Having said our goodbyes we set off uphill through the wooded countryside before descending into Wakayama from where the ferry to Shikoku Island departed. As we reached the outskirts of the city a car with a middle aged couple pulled alongside and the lady waved vigorously at us while smiling. There ensued a very friendly conversation in which about one word in a hundred was understood by the other party with much repeating of phrases and hand waving – to little avail unfortunately. It was a real pity that we could not communicate properly because they seemed to be lovely, friendly people.
We made our way to the ferry terminal to buy the tickets (¥2,700 or about £18 each one way including bikes) and then, with a couple of hours until departure, set off to find lunch and Wagayama castle. This looked very impressive set on top of a hill but, as time was short, we did not feel inclined to climb up to look around. Instead we looked round a lovely little garden in the grounds where there was an old bridge for which you had to take off your shoes when crossing.
We have been on smarter ferries but I am not sure we have been on a faster one (if you exclude jetfoils, etc.). This one certainly went at a fair lick. Arriving in Tokushima, a city of ¼ million people, we headed for what appeared on Google Maps to be a campsite even though we could not find it listed anywhere. It was close to a youth hostel so we figured we had a fall back position if necessary.
Most of the 10 or so km were through the city until we turned off towards the beach where we were headed. The road climbed up a “cheeky” little hill and immediately went down the other side through a wood in which the “trees” were actually bamboo. Arriving at our destination there was no sign of a campsite. As we stood looking at an information board a lady approached us asking, in very good English, if she could help. She said there was no campsite but it would probably be OK to stay there although it would get very dark. If we liked we could stay in her house. Although camping would have been fine we were very grateful and accepted the offer.
As we had to go back over the cheeky little hill we hoped that Ayako could take our bags – but unfortunately she was on a motorbike rather than in a car! Ho hum. However, the thought of a kind hostess and a comfortable bed gave us renewed strength and we were soon at the house to be greeted by Peachy, Ayako’s cat who was not particularly impressed by having two strangers in his domain!