Dennis Bagstevold


Citrus Adventures in Ehime

One of my last planned ventures before leaving Japan was to visit the city of Matsuyama, in the prefecture of Ehime, just south of Hiroshima. Me and my girlfriend went there to relax explore and visit her grandmother. It was a weekend that was overflowning with impressions of all kinds, and it took a couple of days before I could fully comprehend what happened. As always, the text is just me blabbering on, so if you prefer, you can just scroll and check out the pictures. Just click on the picture or on the thumbnails below to see the next one!

※ Day 1

Our destination was quickly reached after a short flight and quick bus ride. Then once being in town, we headed straight for Matsuyama Castle, and it instantly felt like a lot things were timing really well for us. There weren't too many people in town, the cherry trees were in full blossom, light showers of rain were coming and going and the weather was neither too hot nor too cold. It was 'lagom' (just enough), as one would say in Swedish.

Going up the mountain to the castle, we took the option of going up via rope-way, and already we hit one of our first highlights during the trip. It was slow and relaxing, and the view was magnificent. The castle was surrounded with the cherry blossoms, and once we reached the top we took our time to just sit around and take everything in (as well as snapping some new good profile pictures). A Mikan and Cherry flavored ice-cream later, we went through the maze-like castle and fortunate as we were, there was an almost full samurai armor that one could try on in one of the rooms.

After the blast to the past we walked around the cozy shopping streets for a bit before heading to were we would be staying for the night. My girlfriends grandmother had gone all in with the dinner, and there was enough food to house double the amount of people attending. Yet somehow we managed to eat almost everything after around 4 hours, with my mind numbing from the strong drinks and attempting to follow the fast paced Japanese dialogue. Needless to say, I had no problem going to sleep after that.

※ Day 2

Waking up surprisingly not hungover at all, me and my girlfriend went early into town to catch a pre-booked bus which had been bough earlier, courtesy of the grandmother. Before the trip I had suggested biking around Matsuyama as it was close to the sea. But when looking at the tickets I noted that the bus ride would take around 2 hours and realized that I probably didn't follow the details of the discussion the night before as well as I thought. The tickets were already booked and bought however, so away we went.

When we arrived at our destination, Shin-Onomichi, we thought at first that we had made a mistake as we were now finding ourselves in a tiny town with the main attraction being having a station for the Shinkansen trains. Inside the nearly empty station there was a tourist bureau with a lady that was very excited to talk to us. We learned from her that we needed to go to Onomichi to get to so called "good shit", so we did just that.

The short bus-ride reminded me heavily of my home town, and the neighboring "city" which worked as a hub for the people in the area. Similarly to the hub near my home town, it was centered around the docks where there were stores with confused tourists and tons of locals relaxing, chatting and dressing up to put themselves up for display for each other.

We found the bike rental nearby and got onto a ferry to set out on our journey for the islands.

Making our way through the first island in a modest pace I was mesmerized by the views. I can't really put it into words other than it felt perfect. It was the right time of the year, the right weather and I was together with the one I care for the most. As we were on a time-limit to head back to Matsuyama, we decided then and there that we wanted to return to this place and bike an entire day someday, without restrictions or stress. The later being being something we hit head on. This as we realized after some hours that we suddenly had to cover a fourth of our trip in 20 minutes in order to make it to the ferry that would connect to the last bus back to Matsuyama. Somehow, biking like madmen, we managed to speed ourselves to the docks were I would hear the horn of the ferry as it approached the station. After getting a quick tip on where to go by an old lady in a car, we made it onto the ferry as the last passengers. When arriving back in Onomichi, we drank a victory latte and slept on the bus back to Matsuyama once the adrenaline had settled down.

As we got back to the Matsuyama, we checked into the towns luxury hotel (made possible and affordable by the free flight tickets provided earlier) and ate a full dinner at fancy, but empty, Japanese-Italian restaurant. We ended the day by utilizing the open air bath house before crashing into our bed for our final day.

※ Day 3

When we woke up we dug into a nice breakfast with too many options. One could also get different kinds of coffee, the Americano in being labeled "Weak Coffee" in English the though of which still makes me chuckle.

Later on we met up with my girlfriends aunt and grandmother and went a classic Japanese restaurant which had different kinds of fresh Mikan juice available on tap. 'Mikan' being the grouping name of the many sweet citrus fruits that are grown and harvested locally in the prefecture. We would be reminded of this as we would see the fruit being used in every conceivable way throughout the city in food, snacks, drinks, toys, and with several mascots. One even coming in second in the national "Cutest Japanese Mascot Competition". Yes really.

Afterwards we walked down one of the old roads with merchandise shops and a huge Onsen at the end, with the grandmother proudly explaining the history of the city. We eventually caved after seeing to many cute things and bought some souvenirs, and we even got some extra local made sweets to take with us home.

Being driven to the airport with 20 minutes before arrival, the grandmother turns around and tells us that she needed help with inspiration for a few haikus. Doing my best I managed to jot down 3 blots of text which my girlfriend translated on a piece of paper. 

Hopefully they were of some help.

Dennis BagstevoldComment