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Matsuyama

The ferry ride to Shikoku Island from Hiroshima was uneventful. There was almost nobody else on the ferry. I arrived in the late afternoon and got a couple photos as the sun was getting lower in the sky. It gets dark here very early, a little after 5pm.

I arrived in Matsuyama port with no map, no place to stay, practically no information, and no idea where the ferry port was in relation to anything else. A woman at the information booth was very helpful, though she spoke no English. She asked around, but nobody else spoke English either. The good news was that she had some tourist information maps in English. The bad news was that they were actually in German. I showed her the umlaut, and told her with the help of the phrasebook that that was Doitsu (German). She seemed pretty surprised, but glad to be able to tell the difference, and then she found an English map. She pointed me in the direction of the bus destined for the main train station where someone might speak English and help me find a place to stay.

It worked out fine, and the next day I found a great hostel. It was great just to sit and relax. They served dinner and breakfast, which has been about the only time in Japan that I haven’t been at least a little hungry.

On my second day in Matsuyama I took a train down the west coast of Shikoku to Uwajima, which has a very interesting Shinto fertility shrine and an associated museum. Along the way, I shot some photos of the countryside. The population density here is still very high, and every piece of flat land is in use. People here don’t have lawns, they have vegetable gardens, or grow rice. There are also a lot of greenhouses. I’d guess that they grow vegetables in them, but I don’t know. This region also of Japan has a lot of small orange trees, which grow very small oranges. They are the only things that I’ve seen growing on the sides of the mountains, which are normally just left as woods.

The people here have been amazingly helpful. Last night a few of us went to a restaurant and asked if it was the one we were looking for. It wasn’t, but the woman walked us down the street and around the corner and pointed it out to us. This kind of thing happens often. At the same time, it is very difficult to get around when you can’t even read the names of places on many of the maps.

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