- Day 12 – Matsuyama to Imabari
- Distance: 47.9km
- Ascent / descent: 231m / 257m
- Weather: hot
- Accommodation: Tokunaga family residence, Imabari
I was in an 8 bed female dorm last night and surprisingly slept very well! I loved the guesthouse, thanks Shinpei-san!
Originally I didn’t think I would be coming to Shikoku (I’ve visited a number of times before as a tour leader and walked the circumference on the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage in 2013), however there’s a very famous cycle route called the Shimanami Kaido that links Shikoku with Honshu, and it just so happens to start in Imabari, where a wonderful family that I met in 2013 live and have since kept in contact with. I sent them an email to see if they would be available to meet up when I passed through and they said they would and invited me to stay the night again. I had such a wonderful time with this couple and their family when we met during the Shikoku pilgrimage (you can see the link to those blog posts here) and I was very excited to be able to see them again, 6 years later.
The cycle path to Imabari took me along parts of the henro path but nothing was familiar to me, not even the below viewpoint! (I should probably reread my blog and see if I have the same photos!)
I was close to Enmei-ji temple (number 54 on the 88 temple pilgrimage) so I decided to revisit it to see if at least this temple would be familiar and bring back memories… nope (I did see 88 of them!) 😉
Meeting Mr and Mrs Tokunaga again however brought tears to my eyes and I vividly remembered the few days I spent with them in 2013. Since I left they’ve now opened their house to warm showers, couch surfing and Air BnB. This time I was there 982nd guest! Akiko is 76 and Tsuneto is 80 and I asked them when they will stop and he replied, “When Akiko can no longer cook!” They are the most wonderful, happy, kind, generous and just all round good genuine people and I was so happy to meet them again. I arrived at 3pm and we chatted until midnight! When I first met them in 2013 I had walked the Camino de Santiago for the first time and told them all about it. They’ve since been to Santiago twice and walked parts of the camino – you can see a scallop shell and gourd from Santiago in the pic below hanging on their wall. We had a wonderful dinner together and I didn’t want the night to end 😦