Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 24 -- Having a bike is fantastic

Total distance: ~60 km

Today was a real good day.

Matsuyama Castle 松山城
I started off biking a short distance into the greater downtown area, parking my bike in a municipal lot, and hiking up the ginormous mountain in the middle of the city towards the castle. I figured I’d spend a half hour there and then hit the road towards the next temple.

What I did not expect is that Matsuyama temple is absolutely ginormous. It dwarfs the castles in Okazaki and Nagoya—while the castle proper is just about as big as the one in Nagoya, Matsuyama Castle has a lot of the surrounding armaments still in tact as well. I kinda blended in (as well as a foreigner can ‘blend in’ in Japan) with a tour group as they were getting near the castle. Fascinating stuff.

I bought a ticket and went inside, and like Okazaki and Nagoya castles, there was a museum inside. All of the signs and explanations were translated into English, which is just fantastic. The Japanese explanations are often super hard to read and understand because they use lots of high-level characters.

Anyway. That was a great experience. Then I went back down the mountain to my bike and set off towards temple 52.

Temple 52 太山寺 Taisanji (8.5 km)
This one wasn’t so far away, but I’m not that great at navigating city streets so I got turned around a few times. There were so many bicycles on the streets! Mostly high school kids going to class, but there were a good number of adults going to their jobs too. I dare say there were more bicycles on the road at this time of day than there were cars.

The temple itself was tucked out of the way a bit and was pretty quiet and peaceful. I liked it.

Temple 53 円明寺 Enmyōji (3.6 km)
Another close one. I don’t have much to say about this temple, but the ride over to it was pretty scenic.

Temple 54 延命寺 Enmeiji (37 km)
And we come to the reason why I’m so glad I have a bicycle. The road to this next temple was long, flat, and not that interesting. Sure, it was along the coastline, which was cool and the breeze was refreshing, but if I had walked it it would have taken me two days of flat highway walking. I would have been bored out of my skull.

The bike creates a nice pace through stretches of the path like this.

Temple 55 南光坊 Nankōbō (~? km)
On the way to Nankōbō I stopped at Coco Curry House for some excellent extra spicy curry. That place is awesome for two main reasons. One, they allow you to order exactly what kind of curry you want, down to each individual topping you want; and two, you can order some really, really spicy curry there. Really spicy.

Nankōbō was interestingly laid out. The temple was actually bisected by a road, which was cool. The dude in the stamp office was real nice, too.

Day 25 is going to be a pretty brutal day. Big mountain to climb. Lots of ground to cover.

1 comment:

  1. Matsuyama Castle!!!
    One of the biggest (or *the* biggest?) Matsudaira controlled castles! From about 1640ish anyway right?
    Man I'm turning green here...