While packing, I looked more closely at the hot water pot in our room & discovered a funny bit of Japanglish:
But there was no time to ponder because we had to get our huge luggage to the main lobby to board the mini-van for the station. A couple last looks at the beautiful Hanayshiki Ukifune-en:
Next Brendan & I surfed the ekiben kiosks for lunch, plus a couple more presents for folks back home. And then it was time to go up to the shinkensan tracks to wait for the train. The rain had cooled things down a bit, although it was pretty humid outside on the platform.
|Shinkansen pulling into the station|
The weather became gradually rainier as we traveled south.
The express train seemed to have some trouble at first with the wet tracks. There was a lot of noise & shifting of gears (& lightning & thunder out the windows). But eventually we got going- whew!
|Okayama station from inside the express train|
We saw all sorts of trains as we traveled:
|very oddly decorated train|
|an old steam engine|
You may be wondering why we're in Matsuyama. Well, we had wanted to visit a part of Japan we'd never been to before, plus we wanted to stay as clear as possible of the more crowded summer holiday spots (like Karuizawa, in the "Japanese Alps"). The Island of Shikoku is considered very much "inaka" or "in the country" so we thought it would fit the bill. Matsuyama not only has the castle, but we are staying right across the street from a very old & famous onset (hot springs resort) called Dogo Onsen. The Dogo was the inspiration for the bath house in the Miyazaki movie "Spirited Away", which is one of our favourites, so it was kind of a magnet to the place as well. There's also a village museum that we plan to visit as well, with very old homes preserved to show how people lived back then.
And, as it happens, not only will we be able to meet-up some friends here in Matsuyama, but we'll meet some new friends :) Our first Japanese teacher, Tomoko (who has been working on her PhD in Minnesota for the past 6 years), is back visiting her family, who lives just south of here on the Island of Kyushu. As it turns out, Tomoko's father was from Matsuyama & she has relatives here. So she & her mother, Nobuko-san, whom we've stayed with before on trips to Japan, are on their way to Matsuyama by ferry to spend a few days with us & to visit family :) Tomoko also put us in contact with a lovely woman that she met while she was in Rochester. Yuka-san & her husband both did medical studies at the University of Rochester & now live in Matsuyama. Yuka-san, who is a pediatric neurologist, speaks English & very kindly offered to spend a day with us this week showing us around. I think we'll have a lively time in the place we've never been to before!
From Matsuyama Station we took a 15-minute taxi ride to the Hotel Patio Dogo, which is, as promised, right across the street from the Dogo Onsen. It's amazing what a different feel Matsuyama already has, from the other parts of Japan we've visited. The Dogo is awesome:
|Why umbrellas on a sunny day? They're higasa- sun umbrellas- & no adult Japanese woman is caught in the sun without one :)|
Tomorrow- meeting friends in Matsuyama!