I must confess that I have downplayed my opinions about the dead spots along the pilgrimage when no temples are along the route. Walking along busy highways being buffeted by truck wakes is not pleasant. But these highways and streets oftentimes have silver linings that non-walkers miss as they speed by.
The morning started cool and crisp. The mountains were majestic with clouds rolling up their sides. According to the guidebook, Shikoku runs along the Median Tectonic Line. Thus, Shikoku has the dramatic rise of the mountains so close to the coastline. You can see that in the photo as I crossed a riverbed around 8 AM.
After several hours, I was already thinking about a relaxing bath in the afternoon when a sign appeared advertising the Antique Cafe with crossed UK and French flags. What really caught my eye was the subtext of the “Advanced Coffee Meister.” I thought of the movie Somm in which people are awarded the title of Master Sommelier after passing a very rigorous two day exam. This sign pulled me off the highway. Just what was an “Advanced Coffee Meister?” It was lunchtime. Time for a break from my usual 7/11, Lawson, or Family Mart meal.
Down the side road was a western looking building. Inside I entered a French countryside inn. The menu was limited but the pasta al panna appealed to me. First came a small green salad. The pasta followed with a light cream sauce with Japanese mushrooms instead of porcini. No gooey sauce and just the right amount that coated the pasta. Although a fork and spoon was offered, I chose to use ohashi.
The meal ended with a perfect cup of coffee – rich but without any acidic after bite. Here’s our Master Coffee Meister along with a close-up of his earned pin. I have to find out more about the organization, SCAJ, that appears on the pin.
Back on the road passing colorful signs along the way – Funky Time and Ishikawa Liquor Store. Although most of the cars on the road are either white/cream like or black, the Japanese freely use colors in banners and on buildings. Why not cars? Go figure.
I reached my lodging, Tsutano-ya, at 4:30. The dinner as usual was delicious and ample with sake this time instead of beer. A young woman, wife of the owner, was a big help in making the final hotel and minshuku reservations for the trip. Several choices were already full. Kukai’s help comes in many forms.