Uwajima Unyu's ferries run several times a day between Beppu and Oita to Shikoku. The large ferries can also carry vehicles but I had no problems buying tickets on the spot for the next departure. The ferry terminal looked like a relic from yesteryear.
There was plenty of room for today's group of vehicles.
All vehicles need to be vacated and passengers must head upstairs for the duration of the journey. Today's boat looked new, modern, and surprisingly empty. This boat doesn't have rows of seats like a conventional ferry, but large carpeted cubicles where you can actually sleep. Blankets are available for rent at 100 yen each.
Behind the snack bar is a gambling area for adults, and a children's play area in the same room.
We left on time for the 2h45 sailing to Yawatahama. Beppu got smaller and smaller behind us. Oita's industrial chimneys appeared on the right side of the ship soon after.
The ride is expensive but comfortable. After a good rest, we docked at a fairly quiet town. Welcome to Shikoku.
Uchiko is on the way from Yawatahama to Matsuyama. Once famous for its wax, its 600m-long historic main street was empty, with many shops closed. Hard to believe it was only lunch time. The buildings date from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Local merchants were selling their wares using the honour system with a payment box next to the merchandise. Guess there are no scammers in Japan.
On a 132m hill, Matsuyama Castle was completed 1627. For an easier hike, take either the chairlift or the cable car, which runs next to each other.
After a relaxing night at an onsen resort, I was disappointed to see the skies still so grey from my window.
With an annoying drizzle, biking across the Shimanami-Kaido. It would also not be worth paying so many tolls to cross by car when the views were so bad.
Next to the observation area is an information centre with an exhibition on how suspension bridges work and a souvenir shop.
I was a bit surprised when the hotel said the foliage season has finished at Mount Ishizuchi. I barely saw any red around the prefecture, and it wasn't too promising on the drive into the mountains either.
Even at the cable car station, it was still predominantely green.
Unfortunately, the fog rolled in at the hilltop but at least the leaves were very red. In fact, much of it has fallen off the branches already, so the hotel was right.
Back downhill, it was not possible to get a sea of foliage, so I had to zoom in. I arrived in Ehime a bit too early for the fall colours this year.
Across the river and tucked in a side street, the Taga Shrine is dedicated to fertility.
My final attempt to find fall colours on Shikoku was Kihoku just outside of town.
Even wild animals are drawn in such a cute way you won't mind them attacking you.
Uwajima Castle is one of 12 surviving castles from the Edo era. There is a parking lot next to the entrance and you walk uphill from there. At this point, you won't be able to see the castle.
There were few people up here and the castle seems so small, but the setting is very serene and you can see the ocean from up here.
This place is also famous for sumo bull-fighting, something you don't get to see much in the rest of Japan!
You can pay a fortune in tolls to drive into Shikoku either to Matsuyama, Takamatsu, or Naruto. Alternatively, take a ferry, and enjoy the sunset from the deck, and not at the wheel.