Shikoku: Uwajima Exotica

April 20, 2017

Tsushimachō Iwamatsu can be thought of as a suburb of Uwajima. Today’s brief 15-kilometre walk, which takes us from the former to the latter, follows a busy road lined with a non-stop collage of roadside shops and big-box sheds. It’s a utilitarian stretch of car-based enterprises typical of a North American exurban strip. Yet, here in Japan, it is an entertaining journey.

It all seems so familiar, yet exotic. Gas stations, pachinko palaces, auto dealerships, barber shops, 100-yen stores and fishmongers draw our attention as we make our way downtown. We meet a fellow long-distance walker from the Netherlands. Where? At a Lawson’s, of course. Our walk ends, appropriately, at a another Lawson convenience store, this one huddled alongside  the lobby of the Uwajima Orient Hotel. Continue reading

Shikoku: Off the Trail in Nakamura

April 12, 2017

We call them rest days and today is one of those days. Here in the quiet, small city of Nakamura, we plan to do nothing more than see a few sights and, of course, eat.

Nakamura is the perfect place to take a holiday from our daily walking ritual. It’s a small community, just shy of 35,000 souls. So small, I assume, that in 2005 it was merged with another small community, Nishitosa, becoming Shimanto City.

The old town of Nakamura lies sandwiched between two branches of the mighty Shimanto River, Japan’s last free-flowing river. It takes about ten minutes to walk the width of downtown from one river bank to the other and 30 minutes to walk its length. Continue reading