Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Tuesday, August 09, 2016 01:11:10|
Asia 2016: 5 - Kagoshima to Takamatsu, Japan
Sunday, August 7, 2016
A taxi got us to the station for the 9:35 AM Shinkansen train to Hiroshima, arriving at 12:16. It was not a great day to be in Hiroshima as it is an anniversary of the A bomb, however we kept our sense of humour and the basic kindness of the Japanese got us past any resentments. We also made it clear we were from Costa Rica. Another taxi trip was to the ferry dock where we had reservations for the 1:30 PM SuperJet ferry to Matsuyama. A kind Japanese fellow gave up his seat for us, as he said we were sitting on the hot side of the boat, and it would be cooler if we took his seat. The whole area, including islands, is mountainous.
The 1 hour 10 minute trip was through some of the hundreds of islands in the bay of Hiroshima, however it is a huge heavy industrial area, including on some of the islands, and so smog was present. Nevertheless, it was great scenery. From Matsuyama Port it was a lengthy taxi ride to the very nice Daiwa Roynet Hotel Matsuyama. The room was very nice, the bathroom very well done and once again it is in a great area.
We went out for dinner at a fabulous crab restaurant, then walked it off through narrow streets lined with shops, restaurants and pubs. There is a big beer fest on right now, hard for me to take as I've been suffering one of my infrequent attacks of bronchitis, and one of the sacrifices I've had to make is to cut out beer until the congestion clears up.
We reached the entrance to Matsuyama Castle and paid $10 to cram into an over crowded cable car to get most of the way up the mountain. From then on it was all uphill on a wide, steeply sloping road. It is the festival of lights, so trees and many wire sculptures were outlined in colourful lights - a true fairy tale land with a real castle.
On the landing just before the entrance to the castle cherry blossom trees with artificial flowers and pink lights lined a wall overlooking the city far below. It was a great spot to watch an orange sun gradually sink behind the hills on the far side of the city. The huge castle towered over us, but was not open. The castle appears to be intact, and in a good state of repair.
After walking around for awhile we headed back down. This time the cable car had only a mother and daughter in it, but the line for the upcoming car was massive. Most Japanese go up with blankets or ground sheets and make an evening of it, enjoying the lights and watching the city twinkle far below. It is open until 9:30 PM.
I was staggering as we walked back down the quiet streets, stopping only to pick up supplies for breakfast. We were both amazed that my knees actually survived the hearty trek, but they were letting me know they were displeased and it certainly set my bronchitis back. It was hot and humid even in the evening, and we were both as soaked with sweat as if we'd fallen in the water.
Monday, August 8, 2016
We were ready for our 9 AM pickup at 8:45, as Japanese are punctual to the point of being early, however at 9:15 we had the hotel phone the driver (Anthony had given us the numbers) and it turned out he was at the wrong hotel. The hotel took this on as a personal problem, and the manager and an assistant stood on the sidewalk in their suits in the hot sun until the driver arrived just before 8:30 AM. Apparently there were a number of communication problems, as although he spoke almost no English we were able to understand he thought he was there just to drive us from Masuyama to our hotel in Takamatsu. We gave him Anthony's phone number, who explained he was to give us a tour.
It was fast four lane freeway that tunneled through the mountains until we turned off to get to the amazing Zentsuji Shrine. The Japanese drive on express highways well, ensuring they leave the outside lane free for other vehicles to pass. Driving in Japan is on the left, as it is in England and other places. Speed limits are ignored It was a toll road, and the toll was $32.
Japanese professional drivers always dress well. Takahoki, today's driver was dressed in dark pants, a short sleeved white shirt with epaulets and a sea captain's hat. A suit and tie is not uncommon, and white gloves are normal.
The Zentsuji Shrine was started in 807 by Kukai, posthumously known as Kobo Daishi, with the main temple being rebuilt in 1925. He was a monk, civil servant, scholar, poet and artist who did much to further Buddhism. There is a 5 floor pagoda 83 meters (272 ft) high where it is said Buddha is buried. There are huge 2,000 year old camphor trees on the grounds and the main temple has a 4 meter (13 ft) high bronze Buddha. The complex is huge, with other temples and 50 rooms that will sleep up to 250 pilgrims. All construction in the complex has been done without nails. It is one of 88 temples in a pilgrimage circuit of 1,400 km (870 miles) that is done on foot. Our driver says he has done it.
We had lunch in the beautiful small village of Kompira, where there are arched wood roofed bridges, restaurants, shop lined narrow streets, and a sake distillery. Lunch was locally made udon noodles with Takhoka. We also had the opportunity to visit a castle, but it required climbing 778 stairs, so we declined and instead went in search of clip on dark glasses to go over my regular glasses. My sun glasses were tucked in my shirt on the last ferry, and likely fell out. After several unsuccessful stops Takhoka was still determined to find a place that sold them, and finally did, one block from the hotel. They custom fitted them to my glasses while we check into the excellent Daiwa Roynet Hotel Takamatsu.
On our way out for dinner we picked up my glasses, wandered another shopping area that is several blocks of covered street and had beef done the Japanese way for dinner - very tasty. We made an early night of it so I could catch up on writing and emails. We also worked with Anthony to put together the final days of our trip.