Kintaikyo Bridge, Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen

Trip Start Apr 02, 2006
Trip End May 17, 2008

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Where I stayed
Capsule Hotel New Grand Matsuyama
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Japan  , Shikoku,
Saturday, January 1, 2011

The first destination of the year 2011 was Iwakuni, Yamaguchi. The city is famous for a picturesque bridge, Kinatikyo. It was originally built in 1673 and the present one was rebuilt in 1953 after destroyed by the Kijia Typhoon in 1950. The size is 193.3 meters long and 5 meters wide. Unfortunately, it is a toll bridge, costing JPY 300 for a return ticket.   

Just after I went through the gate of Iwakuni Station, I luckily found a bus for the Kintaikyo Bridge in a second. Kintaikyo was a bit farther than I expected, but the bus stopped very near the bridge. After I listened to an automatic guide machine placed in front of the ticket office, I crossed the bridge. If you just want to cross the Nishiki River, use the other bridge near the Kintaikyo, but to see the details of the old architecture, it can be recommended to cross the Kintaikyo. In fact, there was not much to see on the other bank. Iwakuni Castle seemed to be a tourist attraction, but it didn't look grand, compared with the grand bridge. Incidentally, the statue of Sasaki Kojiro, a famous swordsman, was found near the bridge, since he was born in Iwakuni. In summer, you can enjoy the cormorant fishing in the river.      

Feudal Lord's Procession Video
Iwakuni has a festival on April 29 every year and you can watch the procession crossing the bridge.
The next destination was Matsuyama, Ehime. To get to Matsuyama, I got on a ferryboat at Yanai Minato Port. It was clear and the scenery of the Seto Island Sea was beautiful. It was a bit noisy in the ferry, because some parents don't take care of a lot of children so much. Anyway, it arrived at Mitsu Port at around one in the afternoon. Then I took a suburban train to the city of Matsuyama. The First thing I had to do was to check in my hotel to get a discounted ticket for Dogo Onsen Hot Spring. It had been for the first time in many years to stay in a capsule hotel. Personally, I prefer guest houses to capsule hotels, because I get a chance to meet other travellers. After 10 minutes, I departed for Matsuyama Castle.

World's Smallest Hotel Room - Capsule Hotel Video
If you have a chance to visit Japan, it is an idea to stay in a capsule hotel, The rate is comparatively reasonable.

Matsuyama Castle was located on the top of a mountain. Some locals enjoy climbing the mountain, but I chose to take a lift for JPY 260. I expected very much from the castle. A friend of my mom moved to Matsuyama after retirement and decided to live there for the rest of her life. She said that was just because she loved the castle. The original castle keep has survived for 400 years and been designated as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. Personally, I believed the castle was one of the most beautiful castles of Japan. The main keep was not so high, but the castle complex was large enough. Besides, a view from the top of the keep was outstanding. 

Matsuyama Castle Details 
It seems that Matsuyama wants to make itself famous for literature and writers. Because the novel and period drama "Clouds over the Hill" got popular, they took advantage of its background related to celebrities from Matsuyama and built a museum of the drama, although I skipped the museum. Natsume Soseki, a writer born in 1867, lived in Matsuyama for a while and wrote "Bocchan".  In the novel, he mentioned a small locomotive running in the city at that time as a train like a matchbox. Then the train came to be called "Bocchan Train". It was powered by steam, but by diesel at the present. I caught sight of it in a street, but it didn't stop to get passengers on board. I hesitated a moment, but I ran after the train and finally I overtook it at its terminal. After the crews changed its direction by human power, I got on the train as the first passenger! It cost JPY 300, but still I was excited like a kid as well as a boy sitting next to me... On its way to Dogo Onsen, the conductor talked about the city's tourists attractions. It was only a 16 minutes ride, but I fully enjoyed it. 

Dogo Onsen is said to be the oldest hot spring of Japan, because its name appears in one of the oldest writings, Chronicles of Japan (Nihonshoki), which was written in 720. Actually, there are three oldest hot springs in Japan: Dogo, Arima, and Shirahama Onsens, but Dogo is well advertised as the very oldest hot spring. The main bathhouse was built by the municipality in 1894 and it got registered as an Important Cultural Property of Japan in 1994. I didn't tell the difference between the hot water of Dogo Onsen and the others, but it was a great experience to take a bath in the historic building. I also took a footbath of Hojoen in front of the station. Footbathes are convenient and helpful to ease fatigue you get on cold days. 

Bocchan Marionette Clock 
Just beside the footbath, the marionette clock is performed on the hour every hour.

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