Got up at 8 for a traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan. Cold fish (one breaded, one intact with bones and skin; it wasn't fugu this time...at least, the intact one wasn't. I'm not sure about the other one), hot tofu (steamed in broth with mushrooms and carrot), a custard with mushrooms, a local orange and kiwi, plenty of rice with an umeboshi (small, very tart "salt plums", about the size of an m&m. By themselves, they're unbelievably tart, which I hate, but with the rice, it just *works*), soup, and a couple of other items.
Afterwards, I packed up and headed to Matsuyama Castle, accessed via cablecar or individual lift seat. I took the cablecar, since I had a huge backpack on my back. A good part of the castle was made of wood, so part of it burned to the ground when it was struck by lightning, while some of the rest was destroyed in the war. It's been fully restored at this point, and had a fantastic view of the surrounding area. The other highlight was the sword and armor collection, plus some displays showing how they built and assembled pieces of the castle. I tried on the samurai armor - I started taking pictures of me at each step (there were instructions on the wall showing how to do it), but around step 3 (of 8), some local tourists came over and offered to help. Unfortunately, they lengthened the process, and I didn't get any of the other intermediate steps...plus, L's camera ran out of batteries, so I resorted to my cell for the rest of the day. In the end, though, I got my picture in armor - I'm now ready to win Crown!
Had a nice talk on the way down with an Engish language guide - a retiree who volunteers here a few times a week. Then I realized I'd forgotten to go back to the Studio Ghibli store, so I headed there and accomplished my mission. Now it was time to head back. I missed the 12:30 train, so I had to wait another hour, but I made decent time - I got in around 6 PM. In the TMI category, I had to use a squat toilet, because I reaaaally had to go. As with the fugu, it's amazing what one will do when one finds one doesn't have much of a choice - something L pointed out during her Peace Corps stay (e.g. for her, eating habeneros).
I still haven't made it to McDonalds here, though I have had a hamburger with a fried egg, as I think I might have mentioned. But tonight, we're having Pizza Hut. I opted for the weirdest thing on the menu, made even more incomprehensible by Google Translate: "Very horse 4 series of winter only! It is a 4 series premium that combines classic pizza and a popular pizza luxury of winter. Combination: Combination of four types of: Pizza Hut Mayogurume (?), specialized horse bulgogi (M assumes me it's not actually horse, it's a translation hiccup, but she's not sure what it actually is), beef stew luxury melting away!, and Luxury Book Snow Crab". And it's $40.
Tonight, I need to pack for Tokyo. The night temperature's dropped to low 40's, so I need to make sure my long-sleeve shirts are available. Depending on if I can get Wi-Fi to work at the hotels, I may or may not be able to update again before I fly back. If not, I'll still keep a journal on my Mac each day so I can post it when I'm back in the US.
Oops, gotta go - my horse food's here :)