So there’s a “direct” train from Matsuyama to Takamatsu. The distance by road between the two cities is about 158km (109 miles, less than my commute round trip if I have to go down to Colorado Springs). But the train takes about 3.3 hours to get you from Matsuyama to Takamatsu, and it doesn’t leave until 9:15AM… And so therefore we didn’t get to Takamatsu and drop our stuff off at the hotel until 12:45PM. We made the decision at that point to skip the Naruto whirlpools because they were another hour away by bus.
Despite all of this, this post will be pretty picture-heavy further along.
So we went to basically my entire reason for this city stop: Shikoku-mura village. But first, coffee. Conveniently there is a Starbucks a short walk from our hotel Takamatsu Washington Plaza. That is the only recommendation I can give for this hotel, because the rooms are cramped and the beds are so hard, tiny and uncomfortable that I would have been better off sleeping on the floor. But at least there is internet in the room.
So on our way to Starbucks we ran into this guy, Matsunaka Akinori, setting up and singing. He’s with Tower Records on tour apparently… Aubri liked his music and wanted to dance.
His voice is really nice, so we decided to get a CD. He signed it for us and let us take a picture:
He was very nice and hopefully becomes ragingly famous. 😉
So we spent a few minutes deciphering the crazy tourist map directions, grabbed our Starbucks caffeine (well, they have earl grey lattes on the menu, but they still don’t let it brew before flooding it with milk)… Alas.
It’s about a 20 minute train ride to the stop closest to Shikoku-Mura village, and you are accompanied by these guys:
Apparently they are the local train line’s mascots? We saw posters of the dolphins plus the train conductors doing fireman-calendar-like-poses fully clothed inside an onsen bath… I wasn’t quick enough to snap a photo though.
Now on to Shikoku-Mura. Museums in Japan are funny because they are often one little house or room full of stuff that isn’t really relevant if you can’t read the placards. Not only does this museum come with English translations to the big signs, it’s also basically a reconstructed historical village of ~26 houses from all over Japan, with incredible xeroscaping and different kinds of scenery and walking paths around each one. This is NOT an accessible museum, though, and we were grateful that we left the stroller at the entrance office. It’s 800jpy/adult to get in, and it was an amazing place to let Aubri run and stretch her legs.
Now for the pictures. Brace yourselves…
The bridge we actually came here for (there was a picture in our guidebook)
Thatching a new addition’s roof.
These are not actually friendly snakes!
Do not tangle with boar.
A wayside Buddhist temple + teahouse for travelers.
Aubri made a friend.
The most incredible thing was that this place was so filled with blossoms–especially sakura! We finally got to take loads of the sort of pictures we came here during April to take!
Also we found cosplayers!
Stepping into the world of Spirited Away…
We let Aubri run and enjoy herself for about two hours, but she finally got tired and it was time to go.
She begged for her stroller the whole way back (fortunately we were almost to the gate when her tired hit). But she felt better as soon as she had cake.
So we headed back over by the hotel (got there around 5 o’clock) and proceeded to wander around the HUGE arcade nearby looking for food. Udon is Takamatsu’s specialty, but we wanted a shop that had both curry udon and tempura udon.
We found a few odd things along the way…
I’d written down the name of a famous udon restaurant–Tsurumaru. Ironically the place was right next to our hotel (about four doors down). Aubri fell asleep right before we got there, so we had to wake her up. They were kind enough to give her some noodles (which we added broth to) for no extra charge.
They were amazing! Totally lived up to their reviews. After that we dropped the stroller off (with the camera, oops) and went back to wandering. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the gorgeous sakura-and-molasses parfait that we ate. It was delicious.
In Takamatsu more things seem to be on the ground floor, and we noticed loads of people had dogs. Maybe because it was Sunday we were just seeing more of it? Anyway, I’m excited that we finally found a museum as cool as it sounded in the guide.
Tomorrow we’re off to Hiroshima, Miyajima and Kyoto. Yes, all in one day. Since we’ll be doing tons of travel (with fewer pictures), that post will have some tips most tourists don’t know as well.