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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

At this time of year, a trip to Hokkaido is the only way to possibly see sakura or cherry blossoms. They are just starting to come into bloom and we are likely to miss them at their peak. Nevertheless, those early bloomers gave us some pleasure today in Sapporo.

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This word is mono no aware (pronounced mono no ah-wah-reh) and its literal translation is “the pathos of things”.

More fully, it relates to the feeling of gentle wistfulness at the brief and transient nature of beautiful things and an awareness of the sadness of existence.

Hi ka raku you is another beautiful word meaning “blossoms fall and leaves scatter – the impermanence of worldly things”

 

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today’s haiku

the coming of spring

beautiful, fragile, short

the blossom’s lesson

 

Tuesday 24 April.

Yes. It’s the start of another trip. We’ll be spending five weeks in Japan, eleven days in Mongolia and a couple of days  in Beijing (as we head homewards) to see what’s changed since we were there in 1994. We’re topping and tailing the Japan chapter of this trip in the capital, Tokyo.

I’ve been hitting YouTube, language apps and books for the past few months so as to, hopefully, give us a head start on day-to-day communication and help with the recognition of traffic signs and the like.

As far as the blog goes, this time I’m taking my old iPad2 to which I’ve added a cheap and cheerful bluetooth keyboard. The Sony A6000 (loaded with some new apps to try) will be the camera of choice, with Snapseed as the editing tool. And I’ve packed a small sketch book and a few pencils and water brushes just in case. Time and fatigue levels allowing, an occasional haiku may appear.

See you tomorrow in Tokyo.

We took a day trip on the water taxi to Stradbroke, armed with only an iPhone as camera.  Back to playing with haiku with these three photographs.

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Bluebottle poses

(with tassels tucked underneath)

as a small pillow.

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Scattered randomly,

beach obstacles in the sand,

– driftwood as sculpture.

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Skipping over waves,

a kite surfer grabs cross-winds

for the love of speed.

kitesurfer-stradbroke-island