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October 2nd 2008
Published: October 2nd 2008
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Dogo Onsen at NightDogo Onsen at NightDogo Onsen at Night

A Great Heron sits at top. Rumor has it this Heron found the hot spring when it dipped it's leg in the spring and it was healed. This took place during the age of the gods 3000 years ago, or so the story goes.
I'm currently on my final night here on Shikoku Island. I ended the day soaking in the very renowned hot spring onsen, Dogo-Onsen. This is the oldest one in Japan, about 3000 years old. The structure now was recently built but it's done in the traditional style, very tastefully done. It's got about 6 actual bath areas spread over three floors, not including the private bath for the Emperor and his family (although no Emperor has been here since about 1951). I took the most expensive option, about $13, which includes a tour of the facility, the bath itself, and a chance to relax in a private room overlooking the area below, sipping on green tea and sweets. The bath area is a stone, and the waters have minerals in them said to cure diseases (of course). Amazing experience, great way to unwind after a day. In the area you can see people strolling through the area in Yukata's (light summer kimono type robes for both genders).

A bonus to this is I'm staying in a hotel called Hotel Patio Dogo, which as the name implies is literally across the street. This has the added bonus in that I could take the room supplied Yukata and stroll over there at my leisure, very nice touch. It's a very nice hotel, even supplied free morning newspaper in English. If you stay in Matsuyama this is THE place to stay. And that was cool, I just got back from viewing a drum presentation I heard while typing this out. Looks like a nightly thing they do here.

The city is dominated by the presence of it's own castle, Matsuyama-Jo. It's a hilltop castle, that's high enough you can take a cable-car or chairlift up to the top of it, which I did for the way up. It's a very impressive castle, far larger then the one at Matsumoto. It was originally constructed as a five story structure in the early 1600s, but after a fire and a second one started by lightning, it was rebuilt as a three story structure during the Meiji Restoration Era, late 1800s. It's large enough that you can view the castle from almost anywhere in the city.

Inside they had excellent displays showing the history of the castle and it's several rulers. Included was several Katana blades (which I find exceedingly cool) and an area
Yukata wearing patronsYukata wearing patronsYukata wearing patrons

Lots of people, young and old, wearing their summer Yukata's and enjoying the area after a bath at the onsen.
for you to try on your own Samurai Armor... I watched another guy trying to put it on - it wasn't the easiest thing in the world, and I'm sure it's far simpler then the authentic stuff.

For the trip down from the castle I walked down the back way which leads to the former palace grounds, where the rulers would live. That is long gone now, but has been replaced with a rather nice little garden. There's several pools in there that almost looks like each pool represents where a building stood.

Getting around the city is pretty easy thanks to a convenient tram network. It's fun and some of the cable cars are authentic 1887 locomotive engines that they used to use in the city and retrofitted for the tram system. Had a couple of interesting experiences on it. While getting off it at one stop I was stopped by an older women, apparently my wallet had fallen out! Looked at it and sure enough same brand / style / markings on it as mine. however when I put it in my pocket it didn't fit... my REAL wallet was in there. Gave it to the

Either a wedding or someone VERY important, thinking it's the former, hoping for the later.
tram driver, what are the odds though that it would look exactly like my wallet down to the Hilfiger marking?

Another fun little experience was with this really outgoing 6 year old kid. He tried talking to me in English a bit, then started trying to teach me how to say words like spider in Japanese, made for a fun tram ride and got a few smiles from the other patrons.

Last trip I took I ran into a girl teaching English here from Australia, so was cool to hear a bit about her experience.. I guess you don't know where your teaching in Japan until you get here.. she's teaching at 5 schools at the High School level which is a bit challenging but sounds like she's enjoying it.

I've changed my schedule a bit.. tomorrow's going to be spent in Kyoto, I forgot what a beautiful city it is, especially at night which I didn't have much chance to experience the last time to make it back to my hotel. From there I'm off to Kobe for a couple of nights then to Nagoya which has some pretty cool sounding museums and such, including one
A PaliquinA PaliquinA Paliquin

Probably butchered that spelling.. used in ceremonies as seen in the next pic..
dedicated to the Shogun family of Tokugawa which I'm interested in.

After that it's back to the Tokyo and Mt Fuji area, I think I'm past the half way mark of my trip now, although it's a bit hard to keep which day of the week it is these days.

I've also uploaded a completely random clip of quite possibly the strangest Japanese game show I've ever seen... it's a cross between a video game, game show, and a GIANT TV screen. Most odd.

Additional photos below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 25


Paliquin Battle Royale!Paliquin Battle Royale!
Paliquin Battle Royale!

No idea what tradition THIS is showing.
Drummers PerformanceDrummers Performance
Drummers Performance

This was taken right outside Dogo Onsen tonight.
Dogo Onsen StationDogo Onsen Station
Dogo Onsen Station

A classically designed station. Out front were school kids doing paintings of the area.

The main tower structure of the castle, pretty impressive view.
Cable-car rideCable-car ride
Cable-car ride

View from the cable car going up to Matsyama-jo
Interesting WritingInteresting Writing
Interesting Writing

These shrubs were cut in the shapes of Japanese Lettering.. I'm sure it said something profound.
Contemplative viewContemplative view
Contemplative view

View of someone sitting and enjoying the view from top of the castle grounds.

As with much of Japan's history, this bit met with fire on numerous occasions.
Samurai ArmorSamurai Armor
Samurai Armor

Believed to have belonged to the first ruler of Matsuyama-Jo, Kato
Battle ArmorBattle Armor
Battle Armor

Unlike the previous armor, this was built for battle not ceremony.

An unknown Katana blade
View of your KingdomView of your Kingdom
View of your Kingdom

This is what the previous rulers would have seen from the top of the fortress.. minus the high rises of course.
Palace GroundsPalace Grounds
Palace Grounds

At one point this would have looked down on the living quarters of the castle.

2nd October 2008

better and better
hey there, I can't get over how beautiful it is over there. And the places you're staying sound fantastic. I wish I could experience them, too! Maybe I'll set Anna's next treasure hunt in "Japan", and live vicariously through her :-) -Sharon

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