101005Today we went and explored Matsuyama City, which I’ve wanted to do for a while, as it was where I was originally going to be sent to in Japan.  In the JET Programme you get to request certain areas (I requested Hokkaido), but you can end up anywhere.  First of all I wasn’t accepted into JET (and I told them not to bother about considering me as an alternate), then a few weeks later I received an email congratulating me on being accepted…  A short (felt longer) while later, I received the letter with my placement, Matsuyama City, Ehime.  It wasn’t what I wanted, and was slightly disappointed to be so far away from the snow, but the very next day I received an email telling me to ignore the letter and that I was going to Yakumo, Hokkaido!  Of course, the rest is history.

This morning while driving into Matsuyama City my iPhone decided to quit working and wouldn’t turn back on.  It’s amazing how much we have been relying on it, for GPS, music, information (and facebook).  I had to jailbreak it to be able to tether (so that we could update the blog daily while travelling).  Really pissed me off all day!

Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8683 Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8685Anyway, first port of call in Matsuyama was of course Matsuyama Castle (after parking HMAS Delica in a supermarket).  The castle is (high?) up on a hill above the city.  We could have walked, or we could go via a ¥500 chairlift.  I do try and cut frivolous spending, but I hate walking up hills that I don’t need to.  We originally bought a one-way ¥260 ticket, with the intention of walking down afterwards (though, we were far too tired, and bought another one-way ticket to get down).

Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8689 Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8691The castle (¥500 admission) is the biggest/most complete that I have seen to date.  Very impressive.  Originality of the complex varies from a few hundred years, to a few dozen years.  It seems that it was a popular location for lightning to strike… (as well as arsonists…).

Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8714 Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8723Inside the castle, we could read about the history of the town/castle.  It was honestly fascinating.  So, not only was it awesome outside, but it was also awesome inside.  And, to make it totally way cool, only minutes after I was telling Risa how much I want to try on samurai armour (and wear it as a Halloween costume), we found two sets of armour that we could try on.  AND there wasn’t anyone there in front of us!

Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8749We got back on the ‘cub and headed to check out Dogo Onsen area, supposedly Japan’s oldest onsen area.  The building was beautiful, probably one of my favourite old buildings seen thus far.  We had a walk around the area (mostly souvenir shops) before a quick onsen.  There are several options for bathing, from the ¥400 bath only (which we chose), to ¥800 bath, tea/biscuits/bathrobe (to wear only, not to keep), to ¥1500 with multiple baths, tea/biscuits/bathrobe and entrance to view a special private room for the royal family.  The onsen was nice. Old décor.  Slightly busy at times, but generally pleasant.  Sadly, the water didn’t have the wonderful onsen smell.

Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8742 Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8755Something that we’d noticed while we were at Matsuyama Castle was a festival that was going around town.  It was called the Male Autumn Festival (男秋祭), and events included mikoshi (portable shrines) battling and being destroyed.  I was intrigued, so after our bath we headed into central Matsuyama for dinner.

Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO8754There were a few things that Risa wanted to eat, but couldn’t find a shop that she was happy with, so when we both got excited about an Indian restaurant, it was obvious that it was going to be curry for dinner.  At first the restaurant was just about empty (a little after 7PM), but gradually the customers kept flowing in.  We had missed lunch (accidentally, I assure you), so we should have been starving.  I wasn’t feeling all that hungry, but I still wanted to eat lots.  I got some samosa and a lamb curry (though, the flavour I’ve forgotten) and Risa got a different lamb curry.  While not the best curry we’ve ever had, it was certainly the best we’ve had in a while.

From our seats in the restaurant, we could look down to a covered arcade where the mikoshi were occasionally travelling through, though it was still just that, slow gentle travel, none of the aggressive antics that we were wanting to watch.  A quick conversation with one of the older men in on of the groups taught us that tonight wasn’t a major night.  The festival continues for a few nights/days, with things getting more violent/interesting towards the end.  Bummer.

Full and tired, we headed out of town to a michi-no-eki near a mountain that I’ve wanted to climb for quite some time, Ishizuchi-san.  Oh, and this michi-no-eki had the most annoying elevator music blasting out across the carparks and the (super distant) toilets.  It was after 11PM when it finally ceased!  Torture, made worse by Risa signing along to it.



松山と言えば、松山城と坊ちゃんで有名な道後温泉! 松山は、四国で1番大きな都市らしい。 町には、路面電車が走っていて少し昭和なレトロな感じが漂っていて、なんだかすこしのんびりとした感じがあり、函館とちょっと似ている感じがした。



リフトを降りて7、8分程階段を登って歩くと本丸のある公園に到着。松山市を見渡せるので地元の中学生が写生会をしていた。 桜の木がたくさん植えられているから、春の桜並木は、キレイなんだろうなー。 お城の前で記念写真を撮って、入場券(500円)を買っていざ出陣!

松山城は、再建が行われているとはいえ、大阪城や他のお城と違い、残っているのが天守閣以外にも山の中腹にある二の丸などかなり多くを見る事ができた。 天守閣内は博物館になっていて、展示物が歴史を含めた説明が詳しく英語と日本語で書かれているので2人でじっくり勉強できました☆本丸の天守閣は、3層(一番最初は5層だったらしい)で松山市内をぐるりと展望できた。おもしろいことにロスが展示物の一つの甲冑をみてハロウィンとかに来てみたいな〜でも無理だよね。と話していたら何と甲冑をご自由に来てみて下さいコーナーがあるではないか!! レプリカだけど、着方の説明があり、もちろんさっそく来てみることに☆☆ ラッキーな事に観光シーズンでもないので人がいないし最高のタイミングだ。しめしめ。ふふふ。



道後温泉は、松山市内からたった2kmほど。こんなにまちなかにあるとは思っても見なかった。 道後温泉は、夏目漱石が松山に赴任してきた次の年たしか、明治28年くらいに完成。 りっぱな佇まいで、周りは近代のつまらないコンクリートのホテルや店に囲まれ、まるで道後温泉の建物だけが、時が止まったように温泉客を迎えているよう。 目の前の商店街でちょうど遭遇した秋祭りの神輿と坊ちゃんも食べたお団子とじゃこ天を食べ、いよいよ温泉へ。 料金は、3段階あって、入浴のみは400円、浴衣と煎餅、お茶付きは、800円。そして2種類の温泉と個室の休憩所つきは、1500円。私達貧乏旅行カップルは、もちろん温泉だけ。  温泉は、石づくりの浴槽がひとつで周りは、洗い場。観光客のほかにも地元の方もけっこういるみたい。備え付けのシャンプーなどもなく、きわめてベーシックな銭湯に近い。泉質は無色、無臭、透明。温度はすこし熱めだけど、ここちよい熱さ。


温泉を後にし、8時までお祭りの喧嘩神輿は始まらないので、中心部でご飯を食べる事に。 歩いていると、ど中心部の広いアーケードにたどり着いた。御神輿がいくつか通り過ぎて行った。 愛媛らしいなにかを食べようとしたけど、なかなかお手頃な値段かつ、魅力的なものがなく、インドカレーの魅惑に負けてしまった。マズくはないけど、ちょっと甘みが強すぎて私好みのカレーではなかったけど。ポピュラーな店らしく店には、松山のALTらしきグループを含め、まぁまぁ人は入っていた。

そういえばロスは、八雲に赴任先が決定する前、ここ松山市が赴任先だと伝えられていたけど、急遽北海道の八雲に変更されたらしい。 もし松山に行ってたら、会う事ももしかしたらなかったかも知れないし、人生と出会いはつくづく不思議なものだと思った。 ロスも松山を実際に自分の目で見ながら、中々考え深そうだった。でも2人ともなかなかいい場所だよねという結論でした。

待っていた喧嘩神輿は、実は7日だったとわかりそそくさ松山を退散。石鎚山の近くの道の駅で今日はお休みです。 へんなオルゴール調の音楽が道の駅スピーカで爆音で鳴り響く。夜11時になりようやく音が止まった。なんの為なんだか、、まぁ止まってよかった。