Story & PhotosShikoku_Story_%26_Photos_1.htmlShikoku_Story_%26_Photos_1.htmlshapeimage_12_link_0
Nuts & BoltsShikoku_Nuts_%26_Bolts.htmlShikoku_Nuts_%26_Bolts.htmlshapeimage_13_link_0

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Asking a farmer about the route, I was told in no uncertain terms to avoid the mountain pass I was searching for. "You should take the easy way," he said. I told him he didn't need to tell me that... mainly because as soon as I finished the conversation I made a beeline for the pass in question. It was quite gradual and lovely, offering views like this of isolated homes deep in the mountains -- undoubtedly a much more interesting way to go than the crowded major road.

This, believe it or not, is my room in the youth hostel at Ozu, a quiet traditional town midway between Uwajima and Matsuyama. It has a few historical sites, but its main charm is just the fact that it's a really nice town, with lots of quiet back street areas with old buildings and temples surrounded by lush greenery. The hostel doubles as the kouminkan or local public hall; formerly a girls' school, it has creaky wooden stairways and rooms filled with antiques - yet another of Japan's unique YH experiences.