Weather: Sunny and very, very hot.
MP3 track of the day: Hot in the city - Billy Idol
Due to wanting an early night tonight, I prised myself out of bed at 5:00am. Though this hotel is – and feels - very cheap, I actually slept really well. Once I'd got ready I finally left the hotel at around 6:45am.
The sun was still young, making a huge difference to the temperature. As I walked towards the centre of town, it was positively cold by Shikoku's standards. Not wanting to waste the cool weather, I put on hold breakfast in order to look around Takamatsu's old castle. Though there is very little left – due to destruction during the Meji era and World War 2 bombing raids – the outer walls did enclose a very nice garden which kept me entertained until the temperature rose. The garden was similar to the one I saw yesterday; beautifully pruned trees dotted around either a building of some sort, or a bit of water. As I roamed around I did see quite a few old men doing, what must be, their part-time job to top-up their pension. I could think of worse ways to earn a living and, maybe when I'm old, I might follow suit as it looked like a lot of fun.
With the sun now high in the sky I went to Mr Donuts for breakfast and my first two drinks of the day. I then bought two bottles of water before heading to the ferry terminal.
Today I wanted to visit Nao-shima – an island famous for it's 'modern art' – and Megi-jima – an island famous for a Japanese child's fairy story (Momotaro) which I know very well through my job. As I arrived at the ferry terminal I watched the ferry to Nao-shima depart. Once inside the ferry terminal, I discovered that the next ferry wasn't for another two hours however, there was a 'speed boat' option which left in forty-five minutes and took half the time to get to Nao-shima; this left from another pier. I also enquired about Megi-jima and was told that the other pier dealt with boats to that island too. I thanked the lady who'd been helping me and walked over to the other pier.
No matter how hard I studied the timetables, there just didn't seem to be a way I could see both Nao-shima and Megi-jima AND get back to my hotel at a reasonable time. The reason for this is because both islands only have between three and five boat journeys per day. What is also annoying is that, even though the islands are on the same route (you have to go around Megi-jima to get to Nao-jima), the same boat doesn't serve both islands. I therefore decided to buy a 'speed boat' ticket to Nao-shima. Out of the two, this was the more important island and, at least, I could see Megi-jima from the boat.
The ride was very, very beautiful. The water between Shikoku and Japan's main island is littered with small islands. Going through these was an absolute pleasure. I paid particular attention to Megi-jima and, before I knew it, I'd arrived in Nao-shima.
Getting the 'speed boat' actually had it's benefits over the ferry. The speed boat dropped me off on the opposite side of the island to the ferry terminal. This side had the biggest village – Homura - and the most 'modern art'. I could look around here for an hour, before getting the shuttle bus to the village – Miyanoura - where the ferry terminal is located. I would then have forty minutes to look around Miyanoura before getting the 11:30am ferry back to Takamatsu. In any other temperature I wouldn't have bothered with the shuttle bus; the island is so small you can walk across it in twenty minutes.
Homura is home to the 'Art House Project'; a large collection of houses with modern art in them. To see them individually cost £3 each or, a full pass could be bought for £12. Not being a huge 'modern art fan', - and lacking in time - I decided to just have a look at one piece. This piece consisted of a temple at the top – which was free to see – and a cave below (which you had to paid to enter). Once in the cave all I saw was the same line of steps I'd seen coming from the temple above. These steps were made of glass letting in some light into the cave. Through this piece I could instantly see what the artist was trying to achieve. He was trying to con innocent people out of £3! I mean … it was just a set of steps! Sure they were in glass however, as human beings, we've had glass for a pretty long time. What really annoys me about this 'modern art' stuff is that, if I made an exact replica of these 'glass steps', it wouldn't be called 'art'. This piece put me off seeing any others.
Once I'd finished photographing Homura, I took the shuttle bus to Miyanoura. I bought a ferry ticket back to Takamatsu and looked around the small village. I saw a giant red pumpkin with holes it (no idea what that is suppose to 'express') before heading back to the air-conditioned ferry terminal. Once back inside the terminal I had a very difficult choice to make. There were two ice creams for sale; both were vanilla however, one was £1.50 more than the other. What made this ice cream special was that the ice cream was suppose to be smoother and the cone was suppose to be nicer. I'd seen it advertised around Japan before however, I'd never bought it due to the price. This time I went for it and the ice cream was really really good however, the cone was just a little too sweet for me. By the time I'd polished off my ice cream - whilst watching a bit of the Olympics – my ferry arrived.
I sat next to a window. My t-shirt was soaked through with sweat and so, it was nice to sit within an air-conditioned area whilst looking out at the beautiful islands which lay before me and, occasionally, watching the Olympics on the TV.
It took an hour for the ferry to dock in Takamatsu. My t-shirt had thoroughly dried out by then however, it didn't take it long to be all wet again. The time was 12:45pm and I was a little at a loss for what to do. I wanted to eat dinner around 3pm therefore, I had two hours and fifteen minutes to kill. I decided to look around the city of Takamatsu via it's massive covered shopping arcade. I stood, peering into the shops which had the best air-conditioning.
At 2pm I'd gotten board of walking around. I wanted to dry my t-shirt before heading to a restaurant for dinner. I therefore went into a small shopping centre where I found a few chairs and tables. I was soon joined by an old couple however, I didn't talk to them much as I was reading my guidebook to make sure that I hadn't missed anything important – I hadn't. Finally at 3pm I said goodbye to the old couple and went to Ootoya for a lovely large meal. Once eaten I picked up tomorrow's breakfast, and supplies, from a convenience store. I made it back to my hotel where I had a lovely cold shower, relaxed, and went to sleep around 6pm.
Tomorrow I will get up at 1am and hopefully leave Shikoku by 3am. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on this small island and I wished that I'd had a couple more days (One more here, one in Tokushima and another in Kochi). Would I recommend people to come to Shikoku? Definitely however, if you are not bothered about seeing Tokushima's summer festival – it was good – then I would certainly recommend waiting for cooler climates (November time). I would also recommend crossing the road bridges to Shikoku during daylight hours as the view is beautiful. Sadly I won't see much on my return journey – I saw a lot of my journey coming here - but the quieter roads are just too much to give up for a good view.