19&20/5/16. Ayako made us most welcome, preparing us a lovely meal and showing us photos of when she and her husband, Takashita (who we were to meet the next morning – he returned home from work late), went to England in 1979 for him to race in the Admiral’s Cup. We had a lovely time talking to her and, with her help, we located a campsite near the town of Mima that looked to be a possibility for our next night. The next morning she phoned and made the reservation for us.
We also had a Japanese style bath in which we shared the tubful of water (not at the same time!). This was not as yucky for the second person as it might sound since you have to wash your body thoroughly using a shower before getting into the tub filled with very hot water. Stephen struggled with flushing the toilet until he noticed the two little buttons on top of a control panel on the wall. In the morning he discovered that it flushed when you stand up (he didn’t sit down the previous evening!). In case you are wondering the control panel is for the heated seat and directing the built in washing jets. Most invigorating!!!
Finding the road out of Tokushima was straightforward and the ride was beautifully flat, even if it wasn’t particularly beautiful to look at! It was interesting nonetheless. Although it was quite a main road cyclists were able to use the footpath so we kept away from the traffic pretty much all of the way.
Gradually the buildings thinned out and the paddy fields became larger and more frequent. On both sides of us the tree-covered mountains rose steeply but our route was only gently rising as we followed the valley – and we had the added benefit of a tailwind.
Reading the road signs was difficult and, at times, confusing and this, combined with the lack of a detailed map (other than the Garmin which is hopeless for seeing much more than 1 km ahead), meant that we were always a little nervous about finding our way. We had however taken the precaution of marking the campsite’s location on the iPad so it was more of a perception than a reality.
We turned off the main road at what felt like the right place and were happy to see a campsite sign soon afterwards. At checkin we were grateful that Ayako had called ahead for us because their English was only marginally better than our Japanese but at least they were expecting Mr Smith!
The campsite is in a beautiful quiet position away from the main road with the hills of the valley all around us. It was good to be back in the tent for the first time in just over a month and we soon fell asleep.
In the morning Christine went on an “expedition“ to reception to book another night’s stay – which was successful, helped by her remembering the Japanese words for “tomorrow” and “go out” which was sufficient to get the message across. We had decided to stay because we had had to “rush” (in a loose sense of the word!) past a town that Ayako had recommended as a pretty place to visit.
The 15 km to Wakimachi was a bit of a battle against the wind but we consoled ourselves that it would be behind us on the way back. It was. Wakimachi was, as Ayako had promised, a pretty little place full of old buildings – most picturesque.
On the way back to the campsite we stopped to visit a group of four temples within a couple of hundred metres of each other. They were beautifully peaceful and each was set in a garden with some stunning trees. We have seen many, many beautifully clipped trees so far but the ones around these temples surpassed them.
As we were walking up to the fourth temple a car pulled alongside us and a young couple said “Please come in”. They jumped out and opened the doors to the temple (the others had all been locked so we could only peer in through the windows). It transpired that they were a husband and wife team of priests – with him being a direct descendant of the man who converted the temple to the Pure Land form of Buddhism in the 13th century. They showed us round the temple and “made” us lie on our backs to admire a painting of a dragon on the ceiling! Afterwards we took tea with the wife while the husband was called away by his priestly duties.