Chris and myself, Jo, a mature English couple, left England in May to travel around the world and our visit to Japan coincided with the start of this project so we decided to spend our two weeks in Itoshima helping clear the garden with Matt and 10 other helpers.
We have now been here a week and the results are amazing. But it is not just about the garden, the surrounding area is beautiful. After spending the morning clearing a terrace ‘jungle’ of weeds, vines and bushes, we decided to make use of the bikes provided to explore the area. We also had a parcel of clothes that we needed to post back to England. The padded jackets, hats and gloves were needed for Siberia but Japan’s climate at this time of year, late October, has been in the low 20’s and as we are travelling on to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam etc, we don’t plan on using them for the next few months.
Biking in Itoshima is a delight using the wide pathways alongside the road. The area is surrounded by hills that are covered in a thick matting of vegetation, however the valley areas are flat, making biking easy.
The Post Office is a 5-minute pedal away where, with much gesticulating and nodding, we managed to post our parcel. The cash point wasn’t so helpful, even though it greeted us in English, it didn’t want us to have any Japanese yen. So we decided to try somewhere else and go for a bike ride. Google maps is very helpful and we took the road to the west side of the headland with the idea we would take the road around the coast and back to the village. On the way we found a pretty little port with stunning views across the bay and the hills in the distance surrounded by threatening rain clouds contrasting with the sunshine across the water – very atmospheric. A short distance from the port we came across the Suga Shrine where we enjoyed a peaceful few minutes wandering around. There was an interesting stone statue depicting the three wise monkeys. Opposite the Shrine we found a random cashpoint in a small building so thought we would have another try to get out some cash, unfortunately this one only spoke Japanese and we couldn’t decipher the buttons so we gave up and continued our bike ride.
Biking back to the main road we took the coast road which turned into a hill. The bikes had no gears so we were shortly walking. There was no traffic and we continued pushing the bikes up the hill hoping it would level off, but unfortunately it just got steeper, luckily the bikes were very light to push! The view at the top was spectacular across the bay and out to sea, well worth the climb. Then came the good part, the bike down the otherside, or so we thought, until I realised my brakes weren’t up to the steep hill and didn’t work very well! Luckily Chris was in front and he grabbed the bike to slow me down. We then had an enjoyable walk down the hill. It eventually levelled off and we had an easy bike back to the house stopping off to use one of the many vending machines for a can of coke. Arriving home just in time to sit down to spaghetti and meatballs prepared by our two volunteer chefs – yummy.