Japan Day 14 – Matsuyama

Today we taking a train which hugs the northern coast of Shikoku for about 100 miles then heads south, still along the coast, to the island’s largest town, Matsuyama.

First, breakfast, which is complimentary at the Comfort Hotel. Before approaching the buffet, we must be appropriately dressed in masks and gloves.

The food is an eclectic mix and contains a number of items I don’t understand how you’d eat with chopsticks. As the only other option is baby cutlery, I choose that and eat my scrambled egg and veggie spaghetti bolognaise with a teeny tiny baby fork and spoon.

Breakfast Time

Then we set off for the station a mile away. There is a bus which stops just outside the hotel, but the old man says it’s antisocial to take a suitcase on a bus, so we walk to the station through the shopping arcade. At this time of morning it’s a bit like walking down the middle of a cycle super highway.

Takamatsu shopping arcades

The walk takes much longer than expected (thank goodness for the old man’s contingency) and we just have time to board the train and for him to stress about where to put the suitcase on the almost empty train.

Takamatsu Station

Train to Matsuyama

Then we set off for Matsuyama on a trip with is further from the coast and far more industrial than I’d imagined. There are no bullet trains on Shikoku, so it’s a 2.5 hour journey. Add in the constant noise pollution of a Japanese train with the constant announcements and jingles and it’s a long 2.5 hours.

Train to Matsuyama

Matsuyama

We reach today’s destination of Matsuyama. Shikoku’s largest city is famous for its hot springs, namely the 19th Century Dogo Onsen Honkan. We have established that the old man doesn’t do hot springs. Not that it makes much difference as the complex is under renovation and only has very limited public access.

Welcome to Matsuyama

I’m not sure what the city’s theme is. Drain covers; flowery.

Matsuyama drain cover

Station toilet report; the towels from the towel dispenser have been removed from the towel dispenser and placed on top of the towel dispenser to help prevent the spread of covid – WTF?

Covid prevention

Comfort Hotel Matsuyama

We are staying at another Comfort Hotel for the next two nights. This one is also around a mile from the station. There is a tram which stops outside the hotel but the old man says it’s antisocial to take a suitcase on a tram, so we walk.

Comfort Hotel Matsuyama

Matsuyama Castle

Once we have checked in, we head for the city’s second biggest attraction, Matsuyama Castle. The castle sits atop the 132 metre high Mount Katsuyama and can be reached by ropeway or chairlift. On Saturdays there is a parkrun in the castle grounds.

Matsuyama Castle from Matsuyama

Entry to the castle costs Y520 and the ropeway/chairlift is Y270 each way. We opt to take the ropeway up and walk back down along what is described in Lonely Planet as “a pleasant pathway”. From our hotel we must walk round two sides on the castle grounds to reach the ropeway. We arrive to find it is shut, but the chairlift is in operation.

Matsuyama

The chairlift is exactly as described, a chair on a lift. Much to my consternation there is no strap or anything to hold you on as you climb 132 metres up a mountain. Just the gravity of your own arse sitting on a chair dangling in mid air.

Matsuyama Castle Chairlift
Matsuyama Castle Chairlift

We reach the top and after the obligatory photo with the tacky plastic saumurai, enter the castle.

Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle is one of Japan’s twelve ‘original castles’. Which, roughly translated, means it is made of wood not concrete. Hence you have to take your shoes off to enter and walk around the slippery wooden floors and steep wooden staircases in badly fitting slippers that have been on any number of other people’s feet. I opt to walk round in my socks. Not my best decision as I now have a splinter in my toe.

Matsuyama Castle interior

The castle is only three storeys high, so not as many stairs as some other castles we’ve visited. But, as if to compensate, you have to do them twice. In the middle are some VR booths where you can watch mock battles taking place in the castle narrated by a lady fuelled by helium.

Matsuyama Castle VR Booths

From the top, not surprisingly, there are great views of Matsuyama and across to the Seto Inland Sea.

Matsuyama Castle View

We walk back down from the castle via the path, as described in Lonely Planet as “pleasant”. It is hundreds upon hundreds of large, uneven, slippery stone steps. I climb my way way gingerly down the hundreds upon hundreds of far from pleasant steps, cursing Lonely Planet profusely, as I try not to slip or fall or cry. The old man thinks this is all hilarious and videos my distress.

Walking Lonely Planet’s ‘pleasant path’

Once we have reached to bottom of the far-from-pleasant steps from hell, we return to the hotel via the convenience store. Crisps of the day, according to Google Translate are ‘Immoral Garlic Mayo’. It looks like some kind of meat. Maybe Google Translate is vegan and trying to make a point? I briefly toyed with the idea of buying the chocolate coated crisps but decided that really was immoral.

Chocolate Crisps

Drink of the day; white peach and orange.

White peach and orange beverage

Author: Jane's Midlife Journey

Stopped work, started travelling. Sometimes I run - combining the two with some parkrun tourism.

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