Near the end of my trip at Sen, we took the short trip to Kashima Island. It is only a short train ride from Matsuyama, and Matt and Nori had been meaning to check it out. While we had no expectations, it became one of the highlights of my time on Shikoku. A brief walk from the train is a ferry station serviced by a small boat topped with a fiberglass deer, introducing us to island’s claim to fame. We even saw an O-Henro disembarking as we waited for our turn to board the ferry.
We took a nice hike around the island at sea level and walked along the beach in places. All along the beachfront path were these incredible caves cut into the mountain by the sea. Much of our time was spent exploring (and climbing) the interesting rock formations jutting from the sea and sand. The island was filled with campsites and Matt and Nori were already planning to return on an overnight camping trip.
After rounding the mountain from the beach path, we ventured up the mountain. On our way up, we passed a small shrine where some of the island’s famous deer were feeding. Though they seemed a little surprised to see us, they hung around and continued to eat once they realized we only wanted a few photos. After passing under a huge flock of enormous sea birds, we continued up the steep, but short, mountain trail to its summit.
We arrived at the summit right as the sun set over the Seto Inland Sea, the mountains of Miyajima and the ships delivering their cargo to distant places. The view was incredible. A high platform greeted us at the summit and we actually welcomed the extra few flights of stairs. Then we feasted on a few sweets we bought at the Matsuyama train station. We all agreed that this was a fantastic substitute location for Sunset Time. No one complained when we took the long, winding way down the mountain for a different view. Nori’s transportation luck rubbed off on us – we managed to just make the ferry back to the mainland (with a bit of running, frantic yelling and a short jump onto the back of the ferry, which was almost off the port)
After making it back to Matsuyama, we rode the bikes to a second hand kimono shop where I purchased some great fabrics. Snacks and wine at a Brazilian tapas bar followed, with another ride downtown to dinner: yakatori. We ended my fantastic last day in Matsuyama by riding over Dogo Onsen and soaking our tired feet in one of the many free foot onsen around town. We didn’t care that we hadn’t brought towels with us – the steamy water was rejuvenating and gave us just what we needed to take the short ride back to Sen. Although shaking with my bicycle skills when I first arrived, I actually enjoyed speeding down the steep hills back home towards the guesthouse.
Sen actually did become my home away from home during my trip. Since my internal clock seemed to reset with the sun, I woke up every morning at around 5:30. What’s an early riser to do before everyone else awakes? Well, I made breakfast nearly every morning. I miss the tradition of everyone waking up and spending time talking around the communal table sharing biscuits, gravy and eggs. I can’t wait to return to Sen.