Matsuyama and Gogoshima… Starting out in the Shikoku region

This summer I saw stunning sunsets and wonderful landscapes in Japan, and most were in Shikoku and its little islands. I was alone, and I often spent my time sitting down on a rock or on a beach or simply on a bench, just enjoying the view and thinking about my life.

I took a direct train from Okayama city, which has a long bridge that connects the mainland with Shikoku island. The journey took about two hours by bullet train, and I arrived in Matsuyama in the early afternoon. I walked for twenty minutes to reach the Apa hotel, and I was extremely tired because of the weight of my backpack. I really don’t know why it always grows heavier as I move about. Anyway, the hotel was very convenient and in a wonderful location. It was in front of a green park and the paths to the castle. The Apa is a famous Japanese chain of cheap hotels, and all the rooms are fully equipped with many amenities. In the common areas there are some vending machines, a Laundromat and a microwave. It has also a dedicated manga, in which the characters of the story stay at the Apa hotel. My room was on the seventh floor, so I had a wonderful river view, and I could see also the castle.

At five in the afternoon I left the hotel, and went walking through the park. When I saw one of the paths to the castle, I tried to follow it. The slope was a bit steep, but the weather wasn’t hot, and there was a pleasant breeze. I’d stopped in front of a historical building, which was the gardens of the castle, but it was closed because of the late time. I could hear classical music coming from inside, and, considering that there wasn’t anybody around, I started to dance in front of the big wooden doorway. I felt like a princess, dancing for my king… but there wasn’t any king. Then a boy ran through the path, and broke the magical atmosphere! Then another person arrived, and I realized that I wasn’t alone any more. I started to walk again, certain to reach the top of the castle. On the street I met a very strange Japanese man, who was talking with some Smurfs – some plastic miniatures representing the blue creatures from a famous cartoon – which he put on a big felled tree trunk. He really scared me, because he had been having a serious conversation with them, and I found it a very strange behaviour. I started to walk faster and pass behind him, scared he could follow me with his Smurfs. I think that it’s very funny now, I’m laughing while writing it, but in that moment it was very frightening. Anyway, I left him behind, and finally I reached the top of the hill and what I saw was amazing. The view up there was stunning, and I could see through the city till the coast. The sky turned orange and then red… It was the sundown time, a marvellous sunset. The atmosphere turned weird, and a lot of black birds were flying all around and broke into the red sky. Suddenly, everything changed and I found myself moving into a fairytale. The lovely cold wind raised my hair, and I stood on the top of the castle looking down to the sea, where it met with the sky and both turned into one. I had a lump in my throat because I was surrounded by the beauty of nature, and I was completely pervaded by emotions. Even though there were few people up there, I felt thoroughly alone, just me and myself, fighting against my demons and trying to find the answers to my life. With a dark sky I went back through the path, so I was in the wood, and I heard the real sounds of nature, as a beautiful soundtrack for my return downhill. When I entered in my room, I was quite shocked from the sensations I felt, but also reassured.

The morning after I walked through the city for a while, then in the afternoon, I decided to go to the coast and see the sea. I took a train to Takahamako port. The journey was about 40 minutes, but while the train was running it started to rain. I was a bit worried because I wanted to sit down on the beach and breathe the sea breeze. When the train stopped, I was so happy because the rain also stopped. While I was walking through the pier, the sun started to shine and I could feel the warmth of the sun’s rays all over my skin, a pleasant sensation. I climbed over a little wall on the sidewalk, and I fell from a ladder into a white and deserted beach. I went up the rocks, which formed a sort of bridge over the sea. I sat down there – me, the sun, and the wind. I live in a city, so for me it’s very strange to find deserted places where I can sit down and think. I spent about one hour there, dancing and singing, then I went back to the pier and took a little boat, and I reached one of the islands in the Seto Sea. It was the nearest one because it was already 4 p.m. I arrived at Gogoshima island after 15 minutes. It is very little, but extremely beautiful. I walked the road over the sea, searching for an isolated place to sit down. I saw a little, lonely beach under the road, but I should have come down from the top of the street. I held a rope, secured firmly to the railing, and falling down to the beach. I gripped the rope and I dropped from the rocks, even though I had some problems reaching the ground, and I scratched myself on the rocks. I did it and I felt so lucky because nobody could have known where I was, and it seemed I was abandoned on a desert island. I sat on the sand for a while, before trying to reach the top, climbing the rocks with the rope. The wall was very steep, and I found it harder than coming down. Anyway, I loved the adventure and I felt alive when I did something that few people could have done. Sometimes my friends think I’m mad, but I love the way I live, even though it’s a bit unconventional. I went back to the little port and I waited for the boat to the mainland. Another day had passed by, but it was another amazing day!

In my room I planned the boat trip for the day after. I wanted to go to Nakajima island and visited the other islands nearby.

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