As the sun came up on the second-last day of 2013, I left Tokyo by shinkansen (bullet train) for Shikoku, a route which included a glimpse of Kyoto going past at 300km an hour. In Shikoku, the smallest and least populous of Japan’s four main islands, the striking of the New Year came and went to the sound of wind in the bamboo, and massive crowds of people being somewhere else altogether.
I stayed mainly in a town named Uchiko. The world around this place is deeply submerged in an immense restfulness and, apart from the occasional modern car (Japanese shaken law nudges people toward a new car every three years), the calendar seems to have slowed to a halt many decades ago.
Uchiko (part 1)
Absorbingly serene town where there is very little flat ground to be seen, sitting amid a collection of agricultural communities scattered along a valley. Stayed in a large traditional inn that was (apart from the elderly owners) otherwise completely empty. At some hour long after midnight I was woken by footsteps running quickly up and down the unlit hallway. It only seemed appropriate that the place was haunted.