“Don’t ask me!”
At the end of September I went on a trip with three of my friends: Aya, Motoko and Nakako. We had decided to meet at a station named Mihara and start our journey from there. Actually we live in different places of Japan: Aya lives in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture (western Japan), Motoko in Kanagawa Prefecture (eastern Japan), Nakako in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture and I in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture – Nakako and I live in the region of central Japan, but it takes more than two hours by train to her house from mine. None of us but Aya had heard of the place of Mihara. Why did we decide to meet at the station? I don’t know. Ask Aya.
Anyway we had decided to get together at Mihara Station in Hiroshima Prefecture. Aya came there by the local train, Motoko used a plane and a bus, and Nakako and I arrived there by Shinkansen (the bullet train). Luckily we were able to meet each other at the station at 11:00 in the morning! Wonderful! Thanks to the punctuality of Japan’s transportation system!
I had not known this but Mihara’s specialty food is octopus. So, there were many objects and paintings of that mollusk. Besides, they produce this strange sweet: “Tako-Momiji“– a maple leaf- shaped sponge cake including sweet cheese cream and a piece of octopus. Of course, I tried one from curiosity. Hey! What’s this? Ah…hmm…not so bad…but…I don’t know whether sweet cake goes well with octopus…Why don’t you try one if you have an opportunity to drop by Mihara?
We rented a car by the station and started our journey without deciding where to go. Actually we had three intentions in this trip: to go across “Shimanami Kaido”, to eat chicken in Imabari in Ehime Prefecture, and to see some cats in Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. “Shimanami Kaido” is an alias but its real name is The Nishiseto Expressway which contains ten bridges connecting Imabari in Ehime Prefecture, Onomichi in Hiroshima, and nine islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Imabari is famous for chicken though I hadn’t known the fact before the trip. The mascot character in the town is called Bari-san and it is also chicken-shaped. Onomichi is well-known for a movie location and as a town of cats living.
First we dropped into a michi-no-eki, or roadside station, where there are restrooms, restaurants, many specialty products in the place. The roadside station was selling many octopus goods because it is located in Mihara. Its toilet’s signs were very unique. Mihara has a big festival called Yassa Matsuri. The signs are designed to look like a man and a woman dancing in the festival.
After we left the roadside station, we got on the expressway “Shimanami Kaido”, which was one of our destinations. It was a lovely autumn day and the view from the expressway was beautiful. There are nine islands connected by the highway and we decided to come by one of them: Hakata Island, which is famous for producing salt. The Seto Inland Sea is often called the Mediterranean Sea of Japan and has a warm climate. That is why many of the islands grow citrus fruits. So, we compared some kinds of citrus juices there. Hmm…every juice was so delicious!
In the evening, we went to eat chicken in Imabari. Interestingly they cook chicken and other foods by pressing on the hot iron plate in the area. Yeah, everything was ironed and served. The figures were squashed and flattened, but the taste was so nice with sweet soy sauce.
We stayed in a hotel in Iamabari. They have a big Japanese room and the four of us were able to be in the same room. We chattered many topics, sipping drinks and eating snacks until falling asleep. That was fun…(To be continued later…).