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 Issoan, the house and grave of a famous Haiku poet, Taneda Santōka – 種田 山頭火, as well as the nearby Gokoku Shinto Shrine. Parts 2 and 3 with center on the Dogo Onsen  and the Matsuyama Castle.

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Dogo Onsen

Dogo Onsen

Itoigawa City– Niigata Prefecture – Japan

Golden Week; May 3rd-7th gave me five days to go south and hunt for Japanese jadeite. Part 1 of these notes covered my trip to the Oyashirazu Pier, the Jade Museum there and my interaction with the local jade hunters. In Part 2 I shall relate my adventures in the Kotakigawa Gorge and exploring the ancient Jomon village of Chojagahara.

In about 2,500 BCE the Jomon village of Chojagahara, situated on a hill overlooking Itoigawa, was the center of a trade network providing jade for beads and stone axes to Jomon settlements throughout Japan. But by 700 AD jade ornaments had fallen out of fashion and the source for the jadeite was lost. That source, in the Kotakigawa Gorge, wasn’t rediscovered until 1939.

Note for Gem Geeks–a very detailed article on Japanese Jadeite can be found in this issue of the official GIA magazine: GEMS & GEMOLOGY, SPRING 2017, VOL. 53, NO. 1

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Chojagahara Jomon Site & Museum

Chojagahara Jomon Site & Museum

Itoigawa City– Niigata Prefecture – Japan

Golden Week; May 3rd-7th gave me five days to go south and hunt for Japanese jadeite. I’d tried to get down to Itoigawa twice last year, but the weather was against me. I’d planned on camping, and was washed out the previous occasions. This time the weather was sunny, so, after an eight hour drive to the southwest along a quite scenic coast highway, I reached Itoigawa, where the Southern Alps hit the Sea of Japan. It took me a little while to locate the campground I’d seen on a map.

Part 1 of these notes covers my trip to the Oyashirazu Pier, the Jade Museum there and my interaction with the local jade hunters. In Part 2 I shall relate my adventures in the Kotakigawa Gorge and exploring the ancient Jomon village of Chojagahara.

In about 2,500 BCE the Jomon village of Chojagahara, situated on a hill overlooking Itoigawa, was the center of a trade network providing jade for beads and stone axes to Jomon settlements throughout Japan. But by 700 AD jade ornaments had fallen out of fashion and the source for the jadeite was lost. That source, in the Kotakigawa Gorge, wasn’t rediscovered until 1939.

Note for Gem Geeks–a very detailed article on Japanese Jadeite can be found in this issue of the official GIA magazine: GEMS & GEMOLOGY, SPRING 2017, VOL. 53, NO. 1

READ MORE…

Fossa Magna Museum

Fossa Magna Museum

Nepal 2017 – Part 3

After a pleasant week in Pokhara I returned to the big city. Soon after I got back to the Potala Guest House I was walking over to a friend’s gem and jewelry shop when I encountered a parade of school children. They were all wearing their traditional clothing so I had to stop and take some photos.

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School parade, Kathmandu - 2017

School parade, Kathmandu – 2017

Nepal, 2017 – Part 2

I took the Greenline Bus to Pokhara and was there for Holi, which was a bit more laid back than Kathmandu would have been. I like using the Greenline Bus Company for several reasons. First, it leaves an hour later than the cheaper Tourist buses, and second, it includes a buffet lunch in the ticket price. Lunch is always served at a very nice riverside hotel about half-way between Kathmandu and Pokhara. Being a buffet, it is easy to just select the vegetarian options.

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Road to Pokhara 2017