Japan – Matsuyama

We travelled from Hiroshima to Matsuyama today by street car, ferry and train. In no particular order, here are today’s highlights including some of the fun of Children’s Day.

Matsuyama Castle stands on a hill in the centre of the city. It comes, naturally, with its own moat and ramparts. This has been the site of a castle since 1603. The current structure was completed in 1854. We went up by the chairlift without the usual restraints of a safety bar.

Ishite Shrine was showing off the colour red today, with the Japanese Maple in full blush, painted bridges and votives on the small statues around the temple grounds.

Matsuyama’s hot springs have been in use for over 3,000 years. The Dogo Onsen Honkan, an 1894 wooden public bathhouse, is a beautiful building, particularly at night when its watch tower is lit. People come and go to the Onsen wearing the traditional yukata and wooden slippers.

There are a number of delightful finds in Matsuyama, none the least of which is the Botchan Karakuri Clock. The word karakuri means a device that evokes a sense of awe from its concealed inner workings. Only four syllables to derive such a meaning! On the hour, this clock rises up to feature characters from the 1906 novel Botchan by Natsume Sõseki.

The Shiki Memorial Museum is an homage to the poet Masaoka Shiki who modernised the forms of haiku and tanka. Below, one of his haiku is transcribed from a book I have owned and loved for many years. It reads down from the right hand corner.

See the Shinto shrine!

Remote from the garden lights

floating birds sleep

Shiki and Soseki were friends. I got a little excited being there despite not being able to decipher any of the writings on display.

There are also many haiku posted around town and special haiku post boxes. Gotta love a place that honours poets.

today’s haiku

in Matsuyama

if onsens soak the body

then haiku feeds it

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