I first read about the Tamgaly Petroglyphs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in a book on the Bronze Age archaeology of the Scythian Nomads called Kurgans, ritual sites, and settlements — Edited by Jeannine Davis-Kimball
Visiting that site was the main purpose of my trip to Kazakhstan, and it wasn’t easy to reach. No tours or tourists were interested in such a place, so I had to hire my own driver to get out there.
I visited Kazakhstan during the summer of 2017, basing myself in the old captital of Almaty. I stayed in a dorm at the Almaty Backpacker’s Hostel, and it was about a twenty minute walk to the center of town. One of my first trips was to the Central Museum to see their collection of Scythian gold.
Almaty is the cultural center of the country and it looks like a modern overlay on an old Russian city. Blonde Blue-eyed Russians seemed to outnumber the native Kazakhs in the city.
I’m off to Central Asia next week and decided that my usual necklace is too valuable for adventure travel. Thus I created a new one specifically for this trip. One of my goals is to buy more ancient beads and I need examples to show the merchants.
This necklace has a Bronze Age pendant–thogchag; from the Gobi Desert, approximately 500BC; a 2,500 BC ceramic bead from Balkh; Tibetan coral; Tibetan turquoise; Afghan agates and lapis lazuli; Etched carnelians from Taxila, 2,000 years old; Afghan turquoise, 2,000 BC; and Kazakh coral. If anyone is interested it is for sale–$2,500.00!
This year’s fireworks display – Fire Flowers [花火] in Japanese – was held on Saturday, July 29th. Rather than the usual, colorful photos, I decided to try something a bit more artsie-fartsie, and not only used Black and White, but I reversed the images to negative. Now they look much more like Japanese Sumo-e ink drawings. I rather like the effect.
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.