The early Sunday morning in Matsuyama is as quite as we have experienced in Kochi, and this is good for our mood when we start riding. Few people on the road, mostly students on their bikes or motorcyclist on their motorbikes, getting ready to take full advantage of what seems to be a gloriously sunny day like it was one week ago.
Also the pilgrims we pass along the way seem to be amused by the sunshine and the sea, and during our first stop to buy something to drink we meet an American henro, whose tanned face speaks more than anything else about his progress so far.
Luckily the industrial buildings quickly turn into small houses which are pleasant to see flowing at the periphery of our view field, and even the harbor, once we reach it, has something nice in it.
We struggle a bit to find the right way in the maze of small streets, even though the first of the bridges is clearly floating above our heads.
When we pass the artificial hills rising us from the sea level to somewhere midway of the final elevation, we start cycling in the narrow cycling ramp completing the climb to the bridge level. Our eyes struggle in deciding whether they want to look the narrow road the bike has to follow or past the barrier separating us from the void.
For me it feels like flying while pedaling, for my travel mate and her vertigo is somehow more fearful, but still she manages to continue.
I also cannot avoid the temptation of letting the pixels of my camera try the inane task of converting the scenery before my eyes: a gentle wind which becomes more fierce as we increase our elevation, the scent coming from both the sea, 70 meters below our wheels, and the aromatic bushes growing on the coast, the shimmering surface of the whirls created by the never-resting tidal flow and the warm feeling of the sun rays sinking into our skin.
These are sensations which no solid state technology can convert into memory signals.
With him there is also a green orange which, though I cannot read Japanese, I have the feeling represents the bad habits which should be avoided and probably is a sour orange. We find out later that Mikan is also the name of the fruit itself, which we have already tasted few days ago at temple 37.
The effort the young boy puts in challenging the road leaves an admired smile on our face, and the scene is so perfect that seems taken from a staged set. Midway in Oshima island we take a detour and stop into the Rose park to have lunch: also there we meet a lot of people enjoying the sunny day, and cannot help but reflect on how much the building of the bridge must have impacted, both on the good and on the bad, the lives of these people.
A quick deviation from the main road leads us to the hotel where we have the appointment with the tenant of the guest house. The hotel looks superb, and the woman quickly appears at the reception and shows us the way to the place riding a small scooter.
We take a shower and change our clothes before heading to the onsen, for our first experience in a Japanese public bath. The place is built in the countryside, on the top of a small hill, and it is not a place designated to lure foreigners into it. Therefore we are confident that it will be a more true experience. We separate from each other and head for the designated area according to our gender, where we begin the preparation for entering the bath.
Fully restored we get back to our lodging, but first we stop by a convenience store to buy some food for the dinner. We then sit in the living room of the house, calmly consuming our soba, while outside the door a concert of crickets is the perfect soundtrack for this evening on the island.
The calm of this night on the island sinks into our soul, and the gentle sound of the waves on the shore whisper us the most heart full "good night"we have ever heard.
Omishima, guest house Fujimien-shimanami, 0897 87 2025