Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Matsuyama City/松山市/松山市

And it's the last day of my trip to Shikoku!  I spent the last day in Matsuyama City, the largest city and capital of Ehime Prefecture.  Matsuyama is probably most famous for being the location of Natsume Soseki's book "Botchan".  The city uses this fact in an effort to bolster the city's tourist appeal, and one thing they do is they run old trains, evocative of Meiji-era Japan, on the trolley lines in the city.  While driving, I came upon one of these trains:



You can see that, despite the appearance of being a steam train, it's actually run by electricity.  Thank god for that.  I had the unfortunate experience of spending some time near an actual running coal train this past summer, and as cool as it is to see the old technology in action, it fouls the air horribly.  You don't want them actually running through your modern-day city.

An old train next to a new one.

For comparison, here's a clear shot of a modern trolley in Matsuyama.

Matsuyama City has a pretty impressive castle, Matsuyama Castle.  It's one of the better preserved ones in Japan (though some of it was destroyed by WWII bombing) and it's also pretty big, and on top of a large hill.


Normally, one would ride the ski-lift up the hill, but we didn't get here until after 5:00, so we were out of luck.  It's quite a climb too!


This big open area is the top of the hill.  The story I heard is that there were two hills originally, and they were connected by landfill and made into one, large hill.  I can believe it because it's really a huge space.


The mascot for the castle.

Unfortunately, we couldn't actually go into the castle because we were so late.


These lamps were hanging around the grounds.  The one above reads "Matsuyama Castle" and the one below reads "Matsudaira Family" and has a family crest.  The Matsudairas were the lords of the castle back in the day.

The city of Matsuyama, slightly hazy.


Once it got dark enough, all the lamps lit up.

This is the office for the Ehime Prefectural government.  Large, impressive government offices in area cities like this are a reminder of an age when there was stuff going on in Japan outside of Tokyo.  Thanks however to Japan's very centralized government, and to modern transportation technology, the whole country is coalescing into the already very crowded and also very earthquake-prone Tokyo area. Typical of the Central Japanese government, they talk a lot of doing something about it, but do very little (nothing) about it at all.


A line of Torii at some local shrine.
And that's it for my trip to Japan, which at this point was over a month ago!  Who knows, maybe next time I'll do something crazy like, I dunno, write in this blog about Tainan or something!



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