My next stop was Ehime prefecture, Saijo city. Saijo was a small equivalent of Kochi in terms of its location except it was located on the northern part of Shikoku. The town was snugly nested between the Seto Inland Sea and a long range of mountain peaks. It is known throughout Japan as the town of natural spring water. Fountains are placed all over the town for residents to enjoy fresh water. I was staying with an American girl from Louisiana who’s been living in New Jersey prior to arrival in Japan. Audra and I clicked well. On our first night together we talked until 2 in the morning and went up to the roof to watch stars. The sky and the atmosphere took our conversation into the world of supernatural, holistic and metaphysical.
My stay in Saijo was very peaceful and relaxing. Audra allowed me to borrow her bike and I got a chance to visit nearby shrines and hike a small mountain. However, autumn weather was finally catching up with me and a few days were quiet windy and chilly. But not for long. Next stop was my last city on Shikoku Island: Matsuyama.
A Temple surrounded by water
I was really looking forward to meeting my next host. He was a Japanese young man. That was a first for me. I’ve stayed with many Western boys and girls, and I’ve stayed with Japanese girls but not once have I “surfed” with a Japanese boy. I was nervous and excited. Ryota met me at Matsuyama station after a got a ride from a Japanese woman (also a first for me; it’s been men or couples so far). His girlfriend and young cousin were sitting in the back seats and looked eager to meet me. The feeling was mutual. Ryota is a 24 year old young man who has traveled the world. He worked as a scuba-diving instructor in Mexico, Maldives, Sicily and Thailand. His English was excellent and he had a great sense of humor. His girlfriend - Eri, who has traveled around with him, was on a quieter side but was very friendly.
Although Dalai Lama was visiting Matsuyama that day, the plan was to go to a nearby town, about an hour away, to visit Ryota’s father who has been stationed there as a detective about a year ago. Uzo town was holding a fair that day and Ryota’s father decided to treat us to a full day of sunshine, fair and delicious food. And, oh boy, did we get it all! It was one of the most wonderful days I’ve had in Japan so far. We walked around beautiful Japanese gardens, ate super bad and scrumptious street food, danced to “Go, Johnny Go”, climbed stairs of old castle, ate cotton candy, competed in games to win prizes, listened to street concert, watched the sun set over a magnificent town of Uchiko and ate a 7 course traditional Japanese dinner complementing it with sake. All the negative thoughts I’ve had due to being alone in Kochi and Tokushima have vanished. Ryota, his father, his cousin Shuske, Eri, towns of Uzo and Uchiko, sunshine, fair, laughter, all shone on me with brilliant light. Sharing their happiness and tranquility, they’ve transformed me. I felt full of life, energy and light.
Laying on a futon on tatami floor in a clean separate room in Ryota mother’s house that night, I was thinking how lucky I’ve been on my journey. Not all of my days bring exciting adventures. I’ve spent some days in train stations, staying away from rain and watching movies on my laptop all day. But then I would be gifted with meeting someone so wonderful, my heart would flutter with just the thought of this person. My heart skips a bit whenever I think of Yukiko of Sapporo, Yufuko of Abashiri, Adam of Kitami, Aido of Sakata, Toby of Higashikawa, Charlotte of Kazuno. And now Ryota of Matsuyama. He has taken a small place in my heart without knowing it. His sparking eyes, contagious smile and cute accent are part of a very special memory.
This perfect day however was not over. I’ve yet to have another very special surprise. Around 12am when I was laying in “bed”, recalling all the wonderful details of the passed day, my phone rang. It was my Kabbalah teacher from New York! Her timing couldn’t possibly be more perfect. Her voice brought back memories of New York which were snuggly tucked away in corners of my mind. I was overjoyed to hear a familiar voice. She said exactly the things I needed to hear, reminding me that Sharing is part of spreading the light to people. I’ve been lucky enough to receive an enormous amount of happiness from Ryota’s family that day and now it was my turn to share.