Japan day 7

Japan day 7
Yawatahama-Matsuyama-Hiroshima 80km
As the sun was setting, I headed up to the most prominent Shinto Shrine in town, the Hachiman, located at the top of a fortress-type mound, with commanding views over the town. I selected a small verandah to put up just my inner tent. There was no room for the full tent, and anyway, the surface was concrete and wouldn’t take pegs. It felt like a perfect spot. Quiet and undisturbed.

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Temperatures dropped to just above freezing,  but I was warm enough. Distant barking of city dogs ‘chatting’ to each other broke the silence, as did delivery vehicles until, at 5.30 am, a car drove up the hill and parked just 50 metres away, its headlights blazing in my direction.

Instinctively, I knew I was the target. A figure got out of the car and came in my direction. A split second decision: do I pretend to be asleep or get out of the tent and meet my visitor? What would you do?
Well, I took the latter course of action, opened my tent flap, and as he approached I said as breezily as I could: “Konnichiwa!” (hello!). I expected to be shouted at and told to pack up and leave immediately…..but on the contrary, he returned my greeting giving a slight bow, and walked on by. There I was all prepared to defend my case, and the wind was taken from my sails.

A few minutes later, I heard the creaking of doors, and at 5.45 precisely, the huge shrine kettledrum was made to boom across the city. He left a few minutes later leaving the entire precinct of the shrine open to the public. And I had it all to myself to explore….

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There seems to be a level of tolerance and acceptance in Japan that even we in the west don’t enjoy. And Japanese society seems to tick over quietly with very low levels of crime. At no time in the last week have I felt threatened by any situation, nor worried about the safety of my bike.

My route to Matsuyama was an absolute delight. Most of it followed the coast, on a beautifully smooth road, the hills leveled by tunnels (my longest to date over 2km in length)

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and the sun was shining throughout. Occasionally, the odd shrine caught my attention

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Although I was watching the time for catching the 14.15 ferry to Hiroshima, the going was so fast, I found time to have a relaxing picnic on one of the many jetties I passed.

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My plan is to spend two nights in Hiroshima, hopefully in a hostel, and take time out to learn about the city’s tragic history through the eyes of the people most affected.

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on March 27, 2015, in End-to-End of Japan 3000kms. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I find Japan fascinating and wonder what the tolerance counter balance is? Maybe a more rigid society, less individual freedom. I just don’t know enough.

  2. Andrew Pooley

    Frank. Fascinating insight into a country about which I know little. Always a pleasure to read your blogs.
    May the wind always be at your back.
    Andrew

  3. Hi Frank
    Now well into your fascinating trip – I hope the rest of it goes according to plan. Always interesting to see life as it is really lived rather than through the cosmetic gloss which holiday companies etc always give.
    Interesting that you try to kip down in Shinto temples. As I recall you had little problem nodding off in church services at Ushaw – obviously old habits die hard 🙂
    Have a great time.
    Best regards,
    John

    • John, now it’s in the public arena, I suppose I can’t deny it……but what were you doing watching me instead of being intensely wrapped up in the liturgy?

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