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Published: September 9th 2016
This time, as well as staying with Ross in Tokyo, we've travelled to Matsuyama for a wedding of Saeko Hino; always known to us as Sappy. But more of that later.
On Wednesday 7 September we flew from Sydney to Narita, via Cairns, arriving just after 7pm. As on all our travels to Japan we gave Jetstar the job of getting us from A to B as they've always offered such great deals so they're too good to knock back! Because we had a morning flight the following day we spent our first night at the Excel airport hotel which offered a free shuttle bus both there and back. So bright and early on Thursday we were back at Narita's Terminal Three for our flight to Matsuyam, once again with Jetstar. With the tail end of a cyclone in the air it began as rather a bumpy ride, smoothing out over the next hour and a half until we finally landed at Matsuyama airport.
Japan consists of five main islands and Matsuyama, with a population of about 520,000, is located on the central part of the island of Ehime. The city of Matsuyama overlooks the Seto Inland Sea to
the west, and the Shikoku Mountains to the east. It is a centre for regional culture which was produced many writers including the haiku poet Shiki Masaoka. We saw many little islands as we came in to land so the region is also blessed with a beautiful natural environment; it was all very picturesque.
Sappy's mum, Masako, met us at the airport and before too long, as Japanese people are want to do, we were showered with gifts including a couple of books to help us to communicate our needs with any Japanese who couldn't speak English. We've met Masako a couple of times before; first in Hiroshima and then when we went to Kantai Bridge with Sappy, her mum and some of her friends in 2009. Masako took us to a sushi diner for lunch where we were joined by Sappy who we've known since 2007 when she came to live with us for a month while she was studying English at Macquarie University. It was of course lovely to see them both again; they really are a lovely family.
After enjoying a delectable lunch Masako took us to our hotel - No 1 Hotel Matsuyama -
where we had a couple of hours to settle in before she picked us up again to take us for dinner at a local Italian Restaurant. There we were met by Sappy's fiancé Takuya, his brother Takaharu, Masumi ( Takahara's wife) and their children Saki and Sodai. More eating, drinking and socialising followed before we were finally back at our hotel. Two heads hit the pillow fairly easily!
Friday was a day on our own which began with breakfast - two hard boiled eggs and some fruit - at 7-Eleven just across the road from our hotel. Yes, 7-Eleven really do sell boiled eggs, neatly packed in a little box! After that we managed to walk around quite a bit of Matsuyama as well as riding the trams, here, there and everywhere. Our travels took us to the Dogo-onsen Hot Spring which is the oldest spa in Japan, said to have 3,000 year history. Legend has it that it healed a deity’s illness in ancient times which has played its part in making it a popular destination. We didn't go into the Onsen but I did bathe my feet in a free foot bath located next to a clock
which, on the hour, opened up and had little characters doing all sorts of things in much the same way the clock in Sydney's Queen Victoria Building does.
Heading off on the tram again we took in a shopping centre and a park before I took the Cablecar and Kev took the Chairlift up to Matsuyama Castle which overlooks the town and, as all such places do, has a violent story to tell of ancient feudal wars. Exploring the Castle saw us climbing many steep steps; all worth it for the views and historical interest.
It was then back to our hotel where our darling Ross was waiting to greet us having arrived by motorbike from Tokyo. No mean feat as it was a distance of 700 kms. Having left Tokyo on Thursday evening after work, he stopped off for the night at a hotel close to Mt Fuji before finishing the ride on Friday. So after the three of us went out for a bite to eat it was an early night.
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