Tokawa to Uwajima

(55 KMs)

Sunday 22nd October

Tokawa - Uwajima

We were given two possible times for breakfast and opted for the later option at 7:30.  Breakfast consisted of more sweet fish (this time cut into small pieces), various pickled vegetables, as much rice as we could eat and the best miso soup we had tasted to date.  When I shared this with the lady running the hotel via google translate, she was absolutely delighted.

It was cold enough for an extra layer as we took the most direct route out of town and along the river.  We soon reached the first tunnel, which was the longest yet, being close to a kilometre in length.  At least the wind wasn’t howling through the tunnel, which had been our experience yesterday.  We passed more submersible bridges and enjoyed the quiet road and river views.

We stopped at our first Roadside station and marvelled at the array of local products on sale.  We didn’t need anything, as Julie already had a supply of snacks but we had about 20 minutes to browse the store whilst waiting for the nearby cafe to open.  We ordered cappucino and cake - then reminded ourselves again that we are better off making our own coffee unless we see an actual espresso machine as we drank our mediocre coffee.  Simon and I shared a yuzu sponge roll and chocolate sponge roll, both filled with excessive amounts of cream.

We continued along the river with our next stop being an aquarium, at Niji-no-mori-Matsuno with fish from the Shimanto river as well as otters and penguins.  There were some very large and impressive fish and I particularly liked the muffler crabs with their furry claws.  We were delighted to find that there was a bakery nearby and we sat out outdoor tables to enjoy a range of buns with various savoury fillings and a cup of tea.  Yet again we appreciate the value of travelling with our lightweight thermos. 

It was another 20kms after lunch, with just one significant hill to climb.  We detoured to another roadside station about 8kms from our destination for afternoon ice creams and sat at the outdoor table near a bench of oversized rag dolls that were dotted in groups nearby.  They were rather weird, and included a group representing Snow White and the seven dwarfs.

Uwajima appeared to be a pretty town with expansive gardens. As we cycled into the Uwajima Oriental Hotel, a young staff member came out to greet us and showed us where to park our bikes.  They also confirmed that they had received the bike boxes for Julie and Andrew and presented them on check in.  There was a bath salt buffet where you could choose your bathing preference as well as free orange juice and mandarins.  Our room was large by Japanese standards with a nice view over the gardens. 

I suggested that we could have dinner at an Izakaya restaurant which is a type of Japanese pub.  Gaiya Izakaya sounded promising based on its reviews, however I asked for a recommendation from the girl at the front desk.  She suggested a restaurant about 12 minutes walk away - which turned out to be the same one I was already considering.  It was quite a chilly walk - the coolest night we have had to date.  We could see Uwajima castle perched on a nearby hillside, reminiscent of Kochi castle.

Our waitress spoke excellent English and it turned out she was a Filipino living in Japan to be close to her daughter. She helped us navigate the online menu and recommended a few local dishes including the local speciality, jakoten, made by grinding up small local fish and deep-frying it like a pattie. We also had a large serve of sashimi, mixed skewers, salad and another speciality that tasted a little like fish cakes. We washed it down with a mix of sour drinks starting with Yuzu sour then trying three different ones - lime, green apple and special lemon (which was the nicest).  We then balanced up our Splitwise spending, with us all owing Julie money thanks to the 38,000 yen she had entered for lunch at the Alice cafe.

The temperature had dropped a little more as we walked back to the hotel, detouring via the Lawsons at the bottom of the building to buy breakfast provisions as well as some salt and blood orange chocolate from the hotel’s reception area.  We then said our goodbyes to Julie and Andrew who planned to head off early tomorrow to catch a train to Matsuyama, then a ferry to Hiroshima before catching their flight from Osaka on Tuesday.