Posted on 2013/03/11 12:29:19 (March 2013).
[Monday 11th March 2013]
Day two of our trip to Dogo Onsen and Matsuyama.
We had breakfast at the hotel (a "baikingu" which is Japanese English for a self service eat-as-much-as-you-want buffet), then Hirofumi-san, Erika and I walked down to the Dogo Onsen centre to give the girls a bit more time to get ready. After meeting up again at the Dogo Onsen building, we went for a short tour around the inside, to see the special room used by the Emperor for bathing when he visits Dogo - I think I head them say this is the only onsen which has one of these, which says something about its status and fame. I was surprised by how narrow and steep one of the staircases apparently used by the Emperor was - apparently this was partly for security purposes(?!).
Next we got on the "Botchan" train into the centre of Matsuyama proper. This had been replaced by a replica with a diesel engine now, but I think the original was one of the very first steam trains in Japan. It's interesting that steam trains were first used in the UK for freight, and passengers were something of an afterthought - whereas right from the word go in Japan they were about tourism. This may partly explain the Japanese affection for trains. That or the fact they actually run on time.
Just before lunch we went for a walk up the hill to Matsuyama castle. The sun had really come out by this point, and I managed to get some nice pictures of the castle, the blue sky, and some of the early blossoming trees in the grounds (again, not yet sakura / cherry blossom).
The Moriwakis had lunch at a local udon place (udon is a speciality of Shikoku) whilst I went for a not particularly fruitful walk to try and find something to eat. Then we all got in a taxi and headed for the ferry port.
The ferry on the way back to Hiroshima was more crowded than it had been on the way there, and seemed even more boroi. So it wasn't really as pleasant as the outward journey had been, but at least the weather had improved so I was able to take some slightly nicer pictures.
Back in Hiroshima in the evening we had okonomiyaki for dinner, made as a joint effort by Chie's parents, which was very tasty as always.
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