Japan (October 2018): Matsuyama


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Matsuyama is the largest city in Shikoku (pop. ~520,000) and the capital of the Ehime prefecture. It is famous throughout Japan for its large castle (Matsuyama-jo), one of the finest castles that survived the Meiji period, and for its onsens, especially Dogo Onsen Honkan, a luxurious bath house built during the Meiji period. In addition, 8 of the 88 Henro temples (#46 to #53) are located in or around the city.


Matsuyama also prides itself for being the birthplace of Masaoka Shi (1867-1902), who is regarded as a major figure in the development of modern haiku poetry. There are more than 90 haiku postboxes around the city where people can submit their haikus for judgement and possible publication. The one below is located on the eastern slope of the hill where Matsuyama-jo was built.




Matsuyama-jo was built between 1602 and 1628 by Kato Yoshiaki, a lord of the Aizu clan, on top of Kastsuyama-san (132m). It was assigned to the Matsudaira clan in 1635 remained under their control until the end of the feudal era. The current castle tower was constructed in 1820 after the original tower had been destroyed by lightning. One of the 12 castles that survived the Meiji restoration, it was partially damaged during WW II and later restored. It is a complex multi-layered castle with a main and a secondary keep, multiple turrets, and several access gates. Its gracefully curved stone walls are particularly beautiful. The castle provides panoramic views over the plain where the present city of Matsuyama has been built.


Matsuyama-jo seen from the southern side of Kastsuyama-san.


Lower part of the castle.


Midddle part.


Upper part.




Stone fitting in a wall (almost as good as in Inca buildings!).


Samurai armors exposed in the castle tower. They are believed to have belonged to (from left to right): Matsudaira Sadayuki (the first lord of the Matsudaira clan), Kato Yoshiaki (the founder of Matsuyama-jo), and Sadanao (the 4th lord of the Matsudaira clan).


Views over Matsuyama from the castle. Matsuyama′s harbor on the Inland Sea is visible in second photo below.



In Ninomaru shiseki-teien, a garden located below the castle on its southern side.



Dogo Onsen Honkan and around:


Dogo Onsen Honkan is a large wooden castle-shaped bath house built in 1894 over Japan′s oldest known hot spring (mentioned in 3000-year old chronicles). According to the legend the spring was discovered when a white heron was found healing itself in its water. The statue of a white heron on top of the ″tower″ of Dogo Onsen Honkan (see second photo below) reminds us of this legend. This onsen is extremely popular with Japanese visitors and is often crowded. Locals prefer cheaper onsens located in the vicinity.



Some people like to stroll in the area in their yukatas.


Ashiyu (foot bath) near Dogo Onsen Honkan.


Botchan Karakuri clock next to the above foot bath. It is modeled after the white-heron tower of Dogo Onsen Honkan. On the hour it comes to life with animated scenes inspired from the 1906 novel ″Botchan″ by Natsume Soseki, one of the most popular novels in Japan. The novel is based on the author′s experience as a teacher dispatched from Tokyo to Matsuyama in the early 20th century.


In the old sake brewery located on Minakuchi Shuzo (street) near Dogo Onsen Honkan.



Temple walk southeast of Dogo Onsen:


This 6km walk shown in dashed red line below connects three Shinto shrines (Yu Jinja, Isaniwa Jinja, and Kuwabara Hachiman Jinja) and three Buddhist Henro temples (#51 Ishite-ji, #50 Hanta-ji, and #49 Jodo-ji). It starts at the Dogo Onsen tram station and ends at the Kume train station.


Yu Jinja (literally Hot Spring shrine) venerating two deities involved in the origin of the Dogo hot spring.



Isaniwa Jinja, a beautiful shrine representative of the Hachiman-zukuri style of construction.










Ishite-ji, Henro Temple #51, a large complex with many buildings.













Objects exposed in the museum attached to Ishite-ji.



Kuwabara Hachiman Jinja.



Hanta-ji, Henro Temple #50.











Jodo-ji, Henro Temple #49.





Matsuyama harbor:


Fishing boats moored in the port near the Mitsu train station.



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