The typhoon was over and the weather fine when I went to Cape Muroto (Muroto Misaki). On the way I met “Mr. Very Goodto” a 3rd time. I told him about my plans to go to the mountainous inner parts of the Island and he answered with “there bears (kuma) *raawr*, very goodto!”. I’m kind of glad i did not meet him after that again, so he could not spoil more of my fun with his very goodto storys.
The cape was nice but not too extraordinary, though it was nice that you could see how young the land there was and how it was formed on all the rocks around and the splashing waves added to the scene. From there i went along the coast until Tokushima and then turned west towards Iya Valley/Gorge.
Since i did not want to ride the same way along the valley twice i decided against the easier main route to the valley and went along route 438 which meant i had to cross Tsurugi-san (literally: Mr. Tsurugi, but that does not mean i wronged a yakuza named tsurugi, but that i had to go over a mountain, since they call their mountains like people.
Despite the advice from two local men, who thought of my plan to reach the valley in one day as impossible, i did exactly that. I went up to 700m just to go down back to 350m and then go over the 1400m high pass of Tsurugi-san and made it back down to the valley (400m) before anything near sunset. After visiting the fake vine bridge I put up my tent on a nice camp site (on of those you have to pay for) near the river (with warm showers) for a change. The next day i had the most amazing downhill that went on for almost half of the way, moderately meandering far above the river. Meaning almost no breaking or pedaling at about 25-30km/h, nonstop changing stunning views of the river and the gorge and no traffic to speak of. The second half of the day had some medium hills to climb and after i tried the local handmade Udon (thick buckwheat noodles in soup/broth) in Kotohira, i walked up the over 1300 steps to the Temple which is the main attraction of the small city – well if i am already there, i might as well just do what a good tourist is supposed to do. And i was once again rewarded with a good view, showing the city in the evening light.
In Takamatsu i visited Ritsuin Koen, which is without a doubt one of the nicest gardens in Japan and after that i took the ferry to Naoshima Island. The Island itself is pretty nice and all, but i have to say i was a bit disappointed by how much money i had to pay for how few exhibitions the museums had to offer and even the outdoor sculptures and the likes could have been a bit more numerous for a main-tourist-attraction-art-island. At least the spa/onsen/public bath i went to in the evening was well worth its money, being completely covered in colorful pieces of art, relaxing music and all. Well i ended up saving some money by camping on a small playground just above a beach near the port.
I took the ferry back to the mainland and from there i went back the way i took about two months ago to Osaka, mostly driving through cities, but with a small part (on route 250) of a nice road that winds along the coast and is playground to many cyclists, bikers, race-car drivers. When i stopped there for the night, i met Keith going the other direction, a Canadian bicycle racer who is currently doing a world tour by bicycle. We talked to late in the night about cycle-touring, the cheapest calories to get in japan and all the race-cars that stopped at the Michi no Eki we where at and in the end we didn’t even bother to put up our tents and just crashed some hours on benches, since the wind was to strong for mosquitoes anyways. The next morning we talked some more and went our ways.
Once in Osaka i went to the famous giant aquarium, with its main attraction being a whale shark (biggest known fish in the ocean). The shark itself was a bit of a letdown, since it was nowhere near as big as the 12m grownup whale sharks can reach, but he was still pretty impressive swimming around in his giant tank with other giant fish and manta-/sting-rays. But overall the whole setup of the Aquarium is lovely, letting you dive deeper and deeper in the ocean all around the world while walking the designated path, even showing some of the animals that live near the water (otters, penguins, some exotic giant “hamsters” and the likes). Lonely Planet might be right claiming that it is one of the nicest aquariums of the world.
Today i did and will do some relaxing and planning and i will go eat okonomiyaki in the evening and tomorrow i’m most likely off to Koya-san – yes another mountain. So cheers to all my faithful readers, until next time, probably around the first of October, when i’m back in Tokyo.