Nakatosa to Tokawa

(67 KMs)

Saturday 21st October

Nakatosa - Tokawa

The Shimanto River

It was a cooler morning but the sun was shining. Simon and I enjoyed our coffee on the deck with views over the town before making our way down to the main building for breakfast. We had the same private room, but now we could see the incredible view through windows that were so clean you wouldn’t know they were there. 

Breakfast was already laid out including a dish of salted salmon with hulien root (which tasted like taro), another with braised bonito, green beans and coloured tofu, a small dish with a salted plum and other pickled vegetables, miso soup, rice and seaweed, and a delicious dish of walnuts and oily fish.  There was also a perfectly poached egg that we mixed with the rice and salted salmon which was a delicious combination.  To finish there was yoghurt topped with a little raspberry jam and all washed down with green tea (non-roasted). 

The 6km hill on the way out of Nakatosa town was long but not too difficult with an average 5% gradient and the views were magnificent as we reached the top.  We could see all the way back to the coast.  We turned off the main road to follow the Pilgrim route but after a kilometre or so the path became too narrow and we returned to the main road. 

We were delighted to find a little cake shop at a suitable time for a morning tea stop.  The cakes looked beautiful and we all chose a different one, as well as some packaged cakes to take away.  A kilometre or so further on we found a Lawson and stocked up on lunch provisions as there were limited food options along the river. 

Soon we reached the Shimanto River, the longest in Shikoku and renowned as Japan’s last free-flowing river. It is also famous for the chinkabashi bridges along the river.  These concrete bridges don’t have any balustrades and are submerged during floods, so debris, like fallen trees, flows over them and they don’t get washed away.  They are also used by lots of vehicles.  We thought we might sit on one for lunch, but multiple cars in rapid succession meant that we had to find an alternative spot on the river. 

We made good time after lunch and stopped at a Roadside station for a sea salt gelato which we enjoyed overlooking the river.  Ever on the look out for routes off the main road, we crossed the river to pick up a quieter path only to find that the road we needed was directly below us so we had to detour back to the main road.  We passed through a few tunnels, including one just for cyclists before arriving at our accommodation at Towa Onsen. Simon’s friend Norico, had booked it for us as no one spoke English and we had to assure them that we were fine with that. 

Bikes parked and rooms sorted, Simon and I headed down to the onsen.  It was very quiet, with just an indoor bath and we both felt most relaxed by the time we returned to our room with its beautiful view of the river. 

We adjourned to the little waiting area near the onsen to enjoy our beer and write this post.  We got talking to two Japanese people who were most impressed with our itinerary and helpfully corrected our pronunciation of the places we were visiting on our route. 

Dinner was served promptly at 6:30 with an array of local seafood delicacies including a whole crab. sashimi, cucumber salad, pickles and fruit laid on the table, This was followed by a whole sweet fish, vegetable tempura and marinated eel (which was surprisingly delicious).  The crab and fish were hard to eat but we did the best we could.  The owner came out with google translate on his phone and thanked us for staying. He also emphasised that all the seafood was from the Shimanto River.  We assured him in our best Japanese that it was all delicious and he seemed delighted with our response.