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Published: October 2nd 2008
Dogo 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 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
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.
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