Matsuyama – Part 1

Matsuyama (松山市) is the largest city on the Japanese island of Shikoku. It has a population of 516,459. The city’s name means “pine mountain”. Matsuyama was founded on December 15, 1889.

The city is known for the Dogo Onsen [hot spring], which is among the oldest in Japan, The current Onsen building is a Meiji Period wooden public bathhouse dating from 1894.  Matsuyama castle is on top of a scenic hill in a centrally located park. Eight of the eighty-eight temples in the Shikoku Buddhist Pilgrimage are found in and around Matsuyama.

Natsume Soseki, one of the most famous novelists in Japan, lived there early in life and used the city as the setting for Botchan. As a result, there are numerous sites and locales around the city that are named after the main character.  The Botachan Ressha is an antique, diesel-powered miniature train that runs on the city’s tramway.

In Part 1 of this series I shall focus on the hut and grave of a famous Haiku poet, Taneda Santōka – 種田 山頭火, as well as a nearby Shinto Shrine. Parts 2 and 3 will center on the Dogo Onsen  and the Matsuyama Castle.

The Shrine to Taneda Santoka is located in the north of the city and it is called Issoan. Here are a few examples of his Haiku:

Haiku excerpts from Burton Watson’s translation For All My Walking:

there
where the fire was
something blooming
yake-ato nani yara saite iru
feel of the needle
when at last
you get the thread through it
yatto ito ga tōtta hari no kanshoku

Not far from the Shrine and graveyard of Taneda Santoka was the Gokoku Shinto Shrine.

Here are a few extra shots. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the entire church that was built on the roof of the 31 flavors Ice Cream Shop.

Please come back for Part 2 – the Dogo Onsen.

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