Shikoku: Cycling the Shimanami Kaido & a Mini-Pilgrimage (parto ni)

feminist-san interviewed the participants in last month’s Shikoku voyage to find out exactly how extreme the far away (is)land really is. Check out their never-before-seen answers in this exclusive interview.

  1. Describe Shikoku in one word.

Whitney: Foreign (said in distress – “We’re in another country!”)

Kwame: Express… what? You have to take express trains everywhere!

Cyndi: Wild

2. Shikoku is famous for haiku. What’s your haiku about Shikoku?

Cyndi:

City of haiku
built upon castle ruins
It’s Matsuyama

Whitney:

Hot water feels good
The humid air not so much
Shikoku balanced.

C&W for Kwame:

Express trains – choo choo!
I am the biking badass
My name is Kwame.

Kwame:

Biking was awesome.
Hot days, taxis, two old shrines
Would do it again.

3. You’re stuck on Shikoku, and Shikoku is the island in Lost. Do you understand the plot any better?

Whitney: I’ve never watched Lost. So… yes.

Kwame: I’m not bothered.  There is no plot to the damn show.

Cyndi: It’s five minutes ago. This question hasn’t been asked yet.

4. You’re deserted on Shikoku for the rest of your life. You get to bring one foreign food, one friend and one anime character.

Whitney: Gerard – he’s a strong, fast dude that can speak the language better than me.  (3 minutes later) …but maybe Kwame instead. G-man couldn’t be fun in some ways. Fajitas and the river dragon god from Spirited Away – because you can ride it!

Cyndi: Pam (she speaks Japanese! and, you know, I could sleep with her in a pinch), raisin bran and Dora the Explorer.

Whitney: You could bring Doreamon.

Cyndi: because everyone needs a robot cat?

Whitney: He could translate for you! You know that dish honyaki-konyaku? He eats it and then can translate. Plus, you’d automatically make friends with any Japanese girl!

<<SOUND EFX: CRICKETS>>

(at this point Kwame fell asleep and Whitney and Cyndi imagined his answer…)

Kwame: Whitney, because I couldn’t imagine a day without her beautiful face to wake up to, British stew or meat pie and ice cream. (W&C: WE SAID ONE KWAME). And Totoro because he’s magic!

(Kwame then woke up)

Kwame: Whitney, lamb and Pikachu (because it can power electricity. I’ll just use it as a slave. It can power my laptop so I can watch some porn.)

5. Would you rather re-do the bike ride or walk alone to all 88 temples?

Cyndi: Walk, full stop.

Whitney: Walk.

Kwame: The bike ride. And then I’d just cycle to the temples.

6. What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back (to civilization)?

Whitney: Plan my next great exercise adventure to burn all the calories I gained after burning them off on this one…. or go to an onsen.

Cyndi: skype Jamie. I’ve been too long without him. Change my socks – I’ve been wearing the same pair for three days.

Kwame: Go on skype and see if Whitney is online.

(Cyndi:: fights nausea)

I love pagodas.

7. You three managed to get to 8 of the 88 temples, a pathetic attempt, but we understand taxis were necessary in the time crunch you faced. Which was the best temple you saw?

Whitney: #51 – naturey and lots of incense.

Cyndi: #51 – Ishiteji. PAGODA. If there had been a man with a beard there, I might never have left.

Kwame: ……

8. You’re writing the wiki page on Shikoku. Give us one paragraph.

Whitney: If you want to do the pilgrimage, take the time (about 60 days) to walk it. There’s a lot to see and learn, but if you do it rushed it feels like you’re just collecting stamps. It’s worth it to work for it!

Cyndi: See previous post for her long-winded answer.

Kwame: Buy the lemon juice thing at #57 –

Whitney & Cyndi: Ohhhh that was delicious!

Kwame: -You get free postcards from the taxi driver if he likes you. Accept the free yakimochi from the drunk lady at the Family Mart near #51 while getting a taxi. Say hello to every one you se because they might be your friend later. If you’re pretty and beautiful, beware of old men on trains who will call you their wife.

Cyndi: I think they’d delete that weirdly particular paragraph.

(Kwame: <<glare>>)

9. If you had more time in Shikoku, where would you go and why?

Cyndi: Iyo Valley! The biggest gorges in Japan, world class white water rafting canyoning, cliff jumping, vine bridges, hiking – it’s my heaven on earth. A car is almost necessary, unless you book tours with a rafting agency. To hike, you need a car and a grasp of Japanese and money (it’s about 6000yen from from Imabari Station to Awaikeda Station).

Whitney: Takamatsu – one of my favorite books, Kafka on the Shore, is set there. Or I would do the full 88 temple pilgrimage.

Kwame: I’d rather to go a nice beach somewhere after cycling if the weather is quite nice.

10. Best memory?

Whitney: Finishing the bike ride!

Cyndi: Our taxi driver in Imabar/ Dogo Onsen

Kwame: Watching the sunset as we were about to cycle over the last bridge onto Shikoku.

—–

pics or it didn’t happen? feminist-san’s on top of it.

#46...? Imabari. The first ancient temple we saw, and it was under construction. Awesome irony.

"Am I allowed to sit here?" "I don't think so... hurry and do it fast!"

Pilgrims carry a book that they have stamped with the seal of each temple. A monk at each temple does the stamping and then writes the temple name and the date (sometimes) in calligraphy. It's beautiful. Whitney and I both have books. One of my favorite sourveniers from Japan.

My second favorite temple, after the one with the pagoda. This was so green and so beautiful. This one's in Imabari wayyy up in the mountains.

Let's play a game of "Where's Cyndi?"

View of Imabari from nearby the temple. We saw pilgrims hiking up here. That's a pursuit of zen death by heatstroke.

We get to Matsuyama and I walk into a friendly neighborhood Lawson's (convenience store) to ask directions to my hostel. They say, oh, it's close. Just walk outside to the left and go up the stairs. They meant THESE stairs.

The Dogo Onsen station and area of Matsuyama is the quaintest place I've seen in Japan. It's a refreshing difference to the other concrete, neon Japanese cities.

Matusyama Park. I took a book and pretended not to care when gnats tried to eat me.

Dogo Onsen! Featured in Japan's (arguably?) most famed movie - Spirited Away.

Last temple, shrouded in green. It was love at first post-rain mountain air sniff.

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~ by C on July 11, 2010.

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