After a 50-minute wait at Kurashiki station, the train for Onomichi finally arrived. On the train I saw an add for something Meitantei Conan (‘Case Closed’) related going on in Tottori (the birthplace of the mangaka). Being a huge fan of Meitantei Conan, I kept feeling disappointed that I didn’t choose to go to Tottori, the prefecture next to Okayama, as well. Conan kept staring at me like “Why didn’t you come and visit me?!”, so much suffering! 😉 I hope this event is a yearly event, so I can still make it some other time. ^^
Onomichi, an hour’s train ride later, had me totally confused. When I exited the station and looked at the map in several directions, I could barely make out where I was. I searched for the rental bikes (with which I could discover the islands between Onomichi and Shikoku, the 4th biggest island of Japan) but gave up after an hour.
There was a hill with temples, of which I’d definitely seen more than enough already, which had an ‘old temple route’. Since I couldn’t go island hopping, I though “okay, why not, nothing to do anyway,” so I started following the route.
After about five temples, I studied the map again and found out that up the hill was a park with observation deck… Change of route! Up to the observation deck! Turned out to be a good plan. ^^ I had a really nice view of the islands between Honshu and Shikoku in the inland sea. Marvelous!
I wanted to return by a different route so took a path that was supposed to lead me to the west observation deck and then just further down. The observation deck (or what I think was the observation deck) had signs saying tachi iri kinshi (do not enter) so I, a bit suspicious though, walked on… and found a random castle. I was told by an old lady who happened to pass by that it was only built in Showa (1926 – 1989) when the economy was going well. The castle was built to show off the town’s prospering economy, but was left to crumble when times turned bad. She told me there are many such castles in Japan… If anyone knows of other abandoned castles overgrown with ivy, let me know!
After that, I walked down and through a shoutengai where I expected to find my guesthouse. I didn’t find it but had to return to the station to puck up my luggage (which I was smart enough to put in a locker after being completely exhausted carrying it around all day the day before) so I used the WiFi there to check the map. It turned out there was a second shoutengai just a little beyond the one I just checked. I found my guesthouse, which was located behind and above a cafe. I was once again shown around by a staff that was more than happy to show me around in Japanese. 😉
I settled in my bed in the female dormitory and then, before going out, asked the check in guy about recommendations to eat. He pointed one out, gave directions and a map, and off I went… to not find it even after an hour’s search. Most places appeared to be closed so I couldn’t find any other place either. I ended up eating in the cafe in the same building as the guesthouse, after not finding a konbini (convenience store) either.
As I sat down in the cafe, the check in guy (I think the staff for both the cafe and the guesthouse were the same) spotted me and asked whether his directions weren’t good enough. I told him I kept searching and everything seemed to be closed so I ended up there. He said sorry and looked quite pained. Poor guy! In any case, I ordered something there and though it wasn’t much, it turned out to be enough anyway.
I spent some time in the common space and chatted with a Japanese lady (most people in the guesthouse seemed to be Japanese or Asian) and then off to bed!