Memorable Travel Day: Matsuyama Castle

Business takes me to Japan occasionally, and I enjoy my visits. There are always meetings and other work, of course. But usually we’ll also play golf, and then there’s the magnificent food. Despite the usual 28-hour door-to-door travel for me (two planes, two trains), I always like going.

Before one trip, I decided it would be a shame to visit so often and not explore other parts of the country. So I arranged to stay a few extra days. I would be on my own, because taking my wife along was too expensive and our son had to be in school anyway. I was able to plan a fairly low-cost jaunt to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four major islands. Matsuyama is one of the chief cities there. They have a famous onsen (hot-spring public bath), as well as the end of a stunning bike trail that crosses the Seto Inland Sea over bridges on the way back north towards Hiroshima.

There’s also a wonderful medieval castle. After a strenuous day pump-pedaling a bicycle up and down spiral bridge entrances and exits (some climbing six stories or more), a quiet few hours at Matsuyama Castle and its gardens was just the thing. And a lunch discovery topped off an excellent day.

© 2013 Adam Barr

Photos: Adam Barr on a dirty-lensed iPhone 3GS

A corner of the gardens below the castle, at the foot of Mt. Katsu. Scenes like this are why I love Japan.

A corner of the gardens below the castle, at the foot of Mt. Katsu. Scenes like this are why I love Japan.

On the climb through the woods to the castle, ravens squawk and it feels like nothing has changed in 400 years. Avoid the cable car and seek the blessed spookiness.

On the climb through the woods to the castle, ravens squawk and it feels like nothing has changed in 400 years. Avoid the cable car and seek the blessed spookiness.

Finally, the castle itself. Worth the climb.

Finally, the castle itself. Worth the climb.

 

What manner of person inhabited this, and what was his life like?

What manner of person inhabited this, and what was his life like?

And who gazed from here, contemplating samurai power struggles -- or perhaps lost love?

And who gazed from here, contemplating samurai power struggles — or perhaps lost love?

 

It was May, and around every corner was a view like this.

It was May, and around every corner was a view like this.

 

 

Hey...this place down the hill from the castle looks good....

Hey…this place down the hill from the castle looks good….

The grill is ready to make my first-ever okonomiyaki. (Oknoi = "as you like it")

The grill is ready to make my first-ever okonomiyaki. (Okonomi = “as you like it”)

 

The delicious finished product: an eggy pancake with cabbage and other vegetables, spread with a savory sauce and mayonnaise, eaten in pie-like slices.

The delicious finished product: an eggy pancake with cabbage and other vegetables, spread with a savory sauce and zig-zagged with mayonnaise, eaten in pie-like slices.

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