"Karakuri" Botchan Cockoo Clock Tower, Anpanman train, Botchan, Dogo Honkan, Dogo Onsen, Funaya, Mtsuyama, Naoshima, Okayama, Seto Island Sea, Seto Ohashi, Shiki Masaoka, Shikoku Island, Soseki Natsume, The Matsuyama Castle, the Shiki Museum, Uniqlo
After Naoshima we went to Matsuyama City in Shikoku Island, Japan. We first went back from Naoshima to Okayama via a ferry and local train basically to catch a JR express train Shiokaze because the view of Seto Island Sea through the long suspension bridge Seto Ohashi was recommended by a travel guide (I forgot which one). By staying in Okayama overnight we could do some laundry (across from the famous canal) and shopping (my husband needed a pair of pants which we could purchase at Uniqlo in a huge department store near Okayama station – we are amazed that Uniqlo could alter the hem length in less than one hour without any additional cost).
The following day we left Okayama for Matsuyama in an “Anpanman train” (popular children’s comic character). The view of Seto Island Sea was beautiful but after the view from our Oval hotel room it was somewhat anti-climactic. The hotel/ryokan we stayed in Matsuyama was called Funaya, the “best onsen ryokan in Dogo onsen,” (according to a taxi driver) which was recently used by imperial family members. Funaya was not only very close to the famous Dogo Honkan (prominently featured in a comic-satirical novel “Botchan” (Young Master) written by my favorite modern Japanese author of Meiji and Taisho eras, Soseki Natsume) but also close to many popular tourist spots, such as Masaoka Shiki Museum dedicated to the life and work of a Meiji haiku poet, a mechanical “karakuri” cuckoo clock tower and an Meiji era train station. The famous bath house Dogo Honkan was an ancient bath house that had a special bath for imperial family. It was surprising to see so many people were still using this bath house and its several accoutrements, such as resting rooms (one of these was commemorated for Soseki, his poet friend Shiki Masaoka and others who used it to have get-togethers after bath). We had a tour there to see the imperial family’s bath as well as Soseki/ botchan room. We had a French dinner (decent) as well as Japanese “Kaiseki” dinner while we stayed at Funaya.
On the second day at Dogo/ Matsuyama we visited the Shiki Museum and the Matsuyama Castle. The Matsuyama Castle which was rebuilt in mid-19th century was a huge complex of several buildings located at the top of a hill. It was quite breezy but we enjoyed walking around the castle compound which was still evocative of pre-modern Japan. In order to get to the Matsuyama Castle people can either walk or take a cable car or a ski-lift. We took a cable car to go up the hill and the open chair-lift to go down.