Regular tour 17. April

On 17th of April, we trained guiding Ishite-ji temple in the spring rain.

It’s been a long time since some of our members could join the training. So it made us very happy. We enjoyed practicing together!

In Shikoku there are the way for pilgrimages we called Henro-michi, and we friendly called the pilgrim Ohenro-san. In the spring rain, believers or Ohenro-san had visited Ishite-ji as usual.

When we practiced guiding at Daishi-Do(Daishi-hall) we met one pilgrim. He kindly showed his Osame-fuda(Name slip). By the way, there are 6 colors of Osame-fuda. It depends on the number of times one has done the pilgrimage. The color of his Osame-fuda was gold! It showed that he had already finished Ohenro more than 50 times! We didn’t know what made him do Ohenro so many times.

But we could guess that he had continued walking with Kobo-daishi in his mind.

Guests from Singapore

   We had two guests from Shingapore on the 6th. They found us on this website and gave us some questions by email. We were pleased to answer them. We've been exchanging emails since then. They've visited Japan several times, but this was the first time for them to come to Matsuyama. They stayed in Matsuyama for three nights and went to some places by using Shikoku rail pass.  
   On the 6th, the first day, we went to Dogo onsen, Dogo park and Matsuyama castle. Unfortunately it was a terrible weather like a typhoon. Castle spring festival was supposed to be held in the open air, but the events ended up being held in another indoor places,outside Matsuyama castle. That's why we saw few people in the castle and actually enjoyed walking around it quietly.
   Both of them listend to our explanations carefully and asked questions as well. They got into everything in sight. "We human beings have to appreciate anything at the moment, I love every minute of nature," Mrs. T said. The couple admired new green leaves, and cherry blossom petals which one or two pieces were left.  
   They were especially interested in Japanese gardens. After staying in Matsuyama, they went to Takamatsu. They told me that they spent more than 6 hours in Ritsurin park. Their hearts were definetely stolen by the beauty of the park. 
   They also enjoyed visiting a fish market and aozora ichiba/an open air maket in Osaka, and then they left for Singapore on the 15th. I'm sure they enjoyed a beautiful spring of Japan and brought lots of good memories back to thier country. Mr. and Mrs. T, please come back to Japan some day, you are always welcome here in Matsuyama!

Regular tour 10. April

Team A:

We were supposed to go to Ishiteji-temple, but we changed our mind and went to the ruin of Yuzukijo-Castle after waiting for 15 minutes at Ishiteji-temple.

Most of cherry blossoms have been scattered and the new season has started. The sight of the fresh green leaves made a deep impression on us.

We strolled around the park for a while. There is the garden which takes in the background scenery of the natural landscape. It's a very nice scenery. We saw a beautiful bird flying.
Then we went to the back of the garden. We found a small shrine locating in a dense shrubbery. It is Iwasaki Shrine. It's said that a snake is dedicated to the shrine. There seemed to be an old story about that. We put our hands together in front of the shrine and went up to the top of the small mountain. We discovered a new course to walk around today.


Cherry blossoms have gone and new school terms have started. We saw fewer tourists today. As you see on the photo, we wore warm clothes. The tempreture reached only 13 degrees celsius....


This is Hogonji-temple, a modest temple standing next to Isaniwa-shrine. Tulips,pansys and other flowers are blooming in all their beauty:) Two big ginko-trees are beginning to bud.


St. Ippen was born here. He founded the Jishu-sect of Buddhism in the 13th century. His teaching was simple and accepted by ordinary and lowered rank people.

Regular tour 3. April

We met visitors from Switzerland , England and Kyoto .


We trained guiding in Matsuyama casle .This is a map the Matsuyama castle. We usually start to explain from here.



Today,good weather and the cherry blossoms flutter down whenever the wind blows.

This is "Ishigaki" a stone wall.It is so beautiful !


On the way, we met visitors from abroad .

We were happy they were interested in our guide.

We had a lot of fun being able to spend time together with you.

  Thank you very much !



Cherry-blossom viewing party

We had a lunch together under a big cherry tree.: )



 Do you know “Ohanami” ?


“Ohanami” is Cherry blossom viewing .

It is to watch cherry blossoms and to eat a lunch or had Barbecue under (around) the cherry trees with family , friends and Co-worker etc.

                       We start  to eat lunch!


Japanese love Cherry blossom and we look forward to this season every year.Therefore, we ware happy to doing Ohanami today!


3  April 2013.


Regular tour 27. March


It was a good experience to practice guiding on the rainy day.Rainwater run down from drainage facilities on the stone wall. The structure of drainage was working well.

Cherry blossoms were nearly in full bloom. In the rain, the color of cherry blossoms were so clear and beautiful. We could enjoy the scenery of castle structures with Cherry blossoms.


You can see cherry blossoms, not the enemy, through the loopholes :)

27. In the evening

We wanted a nice couple from Nepal to see cherry blossoms illuminated at Dogo Park in the evening. They are so kind that they have cooked Nepalese food including curry for us many times. We wanted them to enjoy Japanese spring.

But the rain didn’t completely stop, and the ground was all wet. What should we do?・・・You know, there is a Japanese saying, “Hana yori Dango,” meaning “We( or at least I ) prefer delicious things to beautiful things.”

We gave up seeing cherry blossoms and had a potluck party at one member’s home. We really appreciated their curry and their company. We could enjoy Japanese spring with them as the saying goes!

Sakura season!


Someiyoshino, the most common type of cherry trees in Japan are now 70% in bloom (as of March 25).

Now is the best season for visititng Matsuyama castle :)

Our free English guiding tours are on Wendnesdays.

Let's enjoy cherry blossom together!   



There are several kinds of cherry trees. The blossom of deep-pink cherry trees are about to end. 



Dogo Onsen honkan, the bathhouse is now decolated with lanterns.

Dogo Spring Festival

Onnamikoshi, ladies shouldered portable shrine.




Suigun Daiko





Iyo manzai dance

Regular tour on the 20th of March

Today is the Spring Equinox Day, a national holiday in Japan.

We had a nice guest from Italy. She’s been staying Matsuyama for a month. We guided Dogo Onsen Honkan(main building) and Isaniwa shrine. We showed her how to behave in shrine. She was really interested in what Japanese pray in Shrine. What we pray? I prayed for health of my family. Then we talked about religious defference between Western country and Japan.

Isaniwa Shrine
Isaniwa Shrine

In the afternoon, we enjoyed various shows on the Festival with a Nepalese lady and a Vietnamese lady. They said there are some features of festivals common to all of our countries. We are the same in one way, and different in another way. That's amazing!

Regular tour on the 13th of March

Team A at Ishiteji-temple.

The weather was cloudy, but the warm wind was telling us, “ Spring has just come here.” That motivated us to practice harder because we are expecting to have some special guests, who kindly have kept in touch with us for about one year and will come to Matsuyama this spring.

We have visited this temple many times, but every time we visit, we find its new beauties and come across new questions about it. Are there any buildings with no nails besides the three-story pagoda in the precincts? What does goko, the weapon Kobo-daisi holds in his hand, literally mean?

This temple must really interest everyone. Why don’t you explore it with us?

Team B:

Today, the sky was completely covered with clouds, but it was warm. Spring is just beginning in Matsuyama. The cherry blossoms will be out in full bloom soon!

Team B practiced guiding around Dogo area. And then we went to Dogo Koen Park to visit Yuzuki castle museum.

Both local residents and tourists visit Dogo Koen Park for a walk or having some rest. It is also a famous sight of the cherry blossoms. It used to be Yuzuki castle, but it was destroyed during Japanese Warring States Period about 400 years ago. There are some Samurai houses which have been reconstructed, and one of them is Yuzuki castle museum.

Fortunately, we met one of our members who is involved with volunteer guide in Matsuyama. He was guiding Yuzuki castle museum today. We’ve known that he knows Matsuyama very well! So we asked him to explain here. He had happily accepted!

The museum is very small, but there are many interesting points.It displays the excavation, the panels of telling about the lord of this castle and Samurai life at that time. If you have time, you should visit Dogo koen park for a walk!

Regular tour on the 6th of March

It was a fine day . The castle tower stood out against the clear blue sky. It was warm during the daytime. If you ride on a bicycle, you would  sweat.

Today, no tourist from abroad.

We trained English guiding. Today's practice was different from the usual. 13 places were guided by five persons at random.

We were excited about choosing guide places by lot and it was fun! we trained ourselves very much!

After finishing the practice, we ate the homemade apple pie

on the bench.It was very delicious.



There are many Sakura,cherry trees in the Matsuyama Castle.

The cherry blossom season will come near the end of March  this year. 

The castle compound become very beautiful.

We are looking forward to viewing Sakura ! 

(The early-blooming cherry trees are already flowering.) 

The Cherry blossom season is a good time for visiting Matsuyama!


Regular tour on the 27th of Feb.

We had a guest from USA !  She saw our Website and came to the Matsuyama castle, waiting for us at the rope way station.  We showed her around the castle and enjoyed talking with her. Thank you for visiting Matsuyama! 

Regular tour on the 20th of Feb.

We went to Dogo Area.

We saw one foreign visitor and spoke to him. He smiled and politely declined our offer to guide him because he was here on business and needed to take many photos. As it’s winter now, we haven’t seen foreign tourists to join us recently. That may mean we have to practice more. At the Dogo Onse main building we met a professional guide group called "Matsuyama Haiku", guiding Japanese tourists. There is a lot to learn from their delightful way to guide. Like them, we would like to keep practicing so that we can make tourists happy!

Spring has come

The weather was beautiful. The air was a bit cold, yet we felt a promise of spring in sunlight.

White and red ume blossom were beautifully blooming here and there in Matsuyama castle.

The buds of cherry trees looked still hard. It will take more than one month to start blooming.

We can't wait to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

We practiced guiding the castle by ourselves today, hoping our efforts would be successful someday! (Feb.13,2013)

Regular tour on the 13th of Feb.

Even in the middle of winter we see Ohenro-san, Buddhist pilgrims visiting 88 temples.Today we went to Ishiteji temple. Some pilgrims lit incense and candles,recited the sutras.

A pair of big sandal is replaced every 4 years (in leap years).

Old sandals are burned.  Lots of people come to Ishiteji to get the ash of the sandals. Because it is said that the ash has magical power of healing :-). 

Those pictures are from last winter, January 20, 2012.

Regular tour on the 6th of February

Today, we practiced guiding at Dogo area.

Fortunately, we met a tourist from Canada.

But he didn't have much time.

So, we guided him about 10 munites.

Fortunately, we met tourists who came from Canada.

↑ A special bath for the Imperial family.It was used only 10 times.


Have you ever seen the "Karakuri Dokei" ?

It's a mechanical clock. It rises every hour.

You can see it from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.

It's so much fun ! 


Setsubun sai at Ishiteji on Feb.3

We went to Ishiteji to see Setsubun Festival. 

The day "Setsubun(節分)"  is a new year's eve on the lunar calender. People go to temple or shrine to pray for their good health and luck.


"Mamemaki",bean throwing,is done on this day. People throw roast soy beans to the devil as shouting "Oniwa soto, Fukuwa uchi","Devils out, fortune in ".Then they eat the same number of beans as their age and wish for good health. 



We got a cup of rice gruel.

It makes us warm!





Mothers were cooking rice gruel for visitors in Ishiteji. 

Regular tour on the 27th of January

Dogo Sunday market
Dogo Sunday market

Today, Sunday market took place in Dogo Nikitatsu street. It takes place on 4th Sunday every month. Unfortunately we couldn't find tourists from abroad.So we enjoyed ourselves walking around Dogo area. There are several kind of shops gather the market,  rice cake shop with demonstration, bakery, fruites, joice, Jam, honey Japanese sweets, coffee stand,handmade crafts and so on. 

We tasted ”wakame” (seaweed)  and  bought them. Wakame is very healthy and tasty . I put them salada or miso soup. I also bought another kind of seaweed dried "Hijiki".


We go back to Dogo Haikara street and luckly we could see a making process of botchan dango(local sweets) at Tomoedo(巴堂) and Shirasagido(白鷺堂).

And then we went to Yamatoya foot bath for warmth.


We had lunch at Tsubaki shokudo(椿食堂).

This is "Nabeyaki Udon" noodle, specialty of Matsyama.

It also makes us warm!


Regular tour on the 23th of January



It was a little cold and cloudy sky.

Today, no tourist from abroad.

So we trained guiding ourselves.

The Castle has a lot of history.

That's interesting! 



By the way, I went Matsuyama castle

with my guiding course classmates before.

It was nice weather and blue clear sky.




Gondola is now out of service because of replacement. (Jan.16 - March. 22)

To the castle hill, ride a chair lift or go on foot.


New year's party


We had a big lunch at the restaurant "Hananoren". We ordered special set menu.


You can enjoy "Taimeshi" rice cooked with sea bream,"Iki-taimeshi" sea bream sashimi-topped rice, "Tai-somen" sea bream noodles and "Jakoten"  fried fish cakes. These four are local dishes in Ehime prefecture.


"Taimeshi"  Rice is cooked with sea bream in a small iron pot  on the table.   

Right in front of you!



"Iki-taimeshi"  a bowl of rice topped with slices of sea bream and soy-based sauce.


Put slices of sea bream,shreded nori (seaweed laver) ,shiso(perilla) and sesame seeds on the rice.

Pour the soy-based sause on it.

Ingredients of the sause are raw egg yolk, dashi and soy sause.

Dashi is the basic stock in Japan.


"Tai-somen" a bowl of somen noodle in hot soup served with stewed sea bream. I loved that.

If you come to Matsuyama, please try these local dishes!

Oyster days

Do you like oyster?  Oyster tastes best in January & February in Japan.

One of my husband friends sent us 10 kg of oysters!!

That was a challenging 

quantity and I'm not a big fan of oyster...  

If you put a wet towel on them and keep them in a cool place,they are fresh at least 1 week.  

  At first I grilled them. It was a bit difficult for me to check the just right time to cook. They should be well done, but not too much. 

  Then I steamed them with white wine, celery and garic. This is a typicall way to cook blue mussels. I was wondering if anyone cooked oysters like this... Anyway, it tasted good.


Oyster pilaf. To get out the oysters from its shell, you have to be tough because they are alive. When I put a knife between the shells, they closed it as tight as possible.. I felt terribly sorry for them. But I had to.. 


Hot pot in korean style. 

We were getting tired of oyster... 

Even if the oysters stay alive for one or two weeks, they sure get weak, lose weight and lose taste. I did't want to see dead oysters, so I decided to cook the remaining half of them at once.



Oyster confit.  You can preserve them one to two weeks.

I enjoyed cooking them. But not again in this winter!

Regular tour on the 16th of January

Team A in Ishite-ji temple

After its busiest season for New Year’s, there were not very many people visiting there today. But the sun was shining, the air was fresh, and visitors looked pleased.

We couldn’t meet foreign visitors, so we practiced guiding for ourselves. We learned something new and prayed at some places.

And one of our prayers was answered immediately! In front of Hondo, we were saying to ourselves, “It is too dark inside for us to see the main image, Yakushi Nyorai.” Just then, a priest got rid of one plate of Hondo, and we were able to see dimly the Buddha of Healing with its halo! It was a small wish, but it made us so happy! May everyone’s wish come true this year!


Team B went to Dogo area. One new member, she has come to Matsuyama last September, joined our team. Welcome to Team Camellia!

There was no guest, so I report " Hatsune-san Festival" helled on the 13th and 14th of January.




Yu-Jinja shrine stands on the hill, just behind the Dogo Onse Main building. People bring their New Year's decorations here. Shinto-priests purify and burn them.

"Mochimaki"   People try to get rice cakes.

I came from Kanto area( near Tokyo).  

Scattering rice cakes is not common custom in Kanto area, I think.

People in Matsuyama do it in many occasions and eager to get them!

"Mochitsuki"  Traditional way of making rice cakes.


Foot bath. During the festival you can enjoy the foot bath. There is a hot spring water mixing facility near the shrine. The water comes directry from the facility. It means the water is very fresh and hot!

Regular tour on the 9th of January

Happy New Year to all our website visiters!  Today we went to the castle. No tourist from abroad... The picture shows the view from the top of the hill. You see the whole town and far beyond is the Seto-inland sea.

I went to the castle hill on Jan.1 to see the inside of the well. It's open only once a year, namely at 6 am on the 1st of Janualy :-D. To draw water from the well (44 meters deep) 

requires hard work.  


This is the inside of the well. It's so deep that I could not see the bottom. When someone took a picture with flash,the light reflected the surface of the water. That I could see.



The water drawn at the beginning of the year called "Wakamizu".

People regard it as the sacred water. It keeps off evil spirits and assures your health and happiness by rinsing your hands with the water.

Regular tour on the 19th of December

Team A in Dogo area:

When we began to practice English guiding, it  started drizzling. We saw white steam rising from the footbath beside the mechanical clock. This added a nice and warm atmosphere to the town even though the weather was cold.

It was the last day of our training this year. One of our members had been absent because she had to take care of her parents. To our joy, she managed to take part in our training today. We walked through the shopping arcade. They were selling various souvenirs. Some are traditional, others are new and ingenious. I thought they were continually making efforts to make this town lively.

I got some tips on how to guide today. Now I've acquired confidence in English guiding!

This year was splendid. Thank you for everything.

Team B in Matsuyama castle:

We waited for foreign travelers sitting on a chair at Ropeway station for about thirty minutes, yet we couldn't see any tourists. It was cold, sometimes it rained and hailed. People might have thought that it was not a good day for going up Matsuyama castle. Today we had a visitor who was interested in our activiities. We moved to a coffiee shop, and I explained her about our English volunteer guiding.She will be one of the members of Camellia from next month! Thanks for joining us. We welcome you from our hearts!

Regular tour on the 12th of December

On the 12th of December, we visited several foot baths around Dogo area, and of course we enjoyed those! At first we got the map which was put the foot bath’s mark on it at the tourist information. It was so useful that we could find them easily, and we found most of large hotels had them.

There are about 10 foot baths, and they have been constructed since 2002 in Dogo. Anyone can take a foot bath in free everywhere.

When we had been taking one of foot baths, we met a woman who loved Dogo-onsen very much. She said that she came there and took a bath every day. We thought she must be a mistress of Dogo-onsen! She told us with confidence in herself how good the quality of hot water was for healing her foot, and temperature of it as well. We took a baht with her for 20 minutes as she taught. It made our foot so warm for long time even after bathing.

On our website, the foot bath page is coming soon! Give us a little time, please

Regular tour on the 5th of December

The weather has been very cold since the beginning of this month. There were few tourists in the castle.  The maple-leaves have turned  red. It is beautiful. 

Some of members and their friends from Nepal held a Nabe party this evening. What is Nabe? People sit around a hotpot nabe, put soup and ingredients from the pot into their own bowls and eat them.  "Nabe" meals are tasty especially in cold winter. You can enjoy Nabe in some restaurants. It warms your heart and body! 




Santa Claus is riding on the chair lift !!

Many Japanese enjoy the feeling of Christmas by holding Christmas parties, exchanging Christmas presents and eating cake(this is important ↑). 

We went to Ishite-ji temple. We were supposed to practice a guide, yet we changed today's plan. There is a small hall called "Homotsu-den(a treasure house) in Ishite-ji precinct. I had been wondering what kind of objects were exhibited in the hall, so we went inside. It was dark and dusty. The temple staff seems to have no time to take care of it. However so many kinds of things were exhibited and they all looked very old and historical, though the way of exhibition was very chaotic. If you are interested in old and holy (horrible?) things, we will recomend you to visit the treasure house of Ishite-ji temple.

Regular tour ont the 21st of November

Team A went to Isiteji-temple. Many pilgrims were visiting there as usual in this season.

We met one city staff. He kindly showed us a stone, which bears Matsuo Basho’s haiku. He is one of the most famous poets in Japan . I didn’t know he visited Matsuyama and wrote haiku here. It was in 1692, and its season word was plum flowers.

Then we took part in the tea ceremony, which is held in this temple on 21st every month. We were inexperienced in this kind of event, and moreover, we were unprepared for it. But one gentle lady gave us ‘kaisi’, paper for eating cake. And some ladies advised us softly how to do it. They served tea and ‘oyaki’, the specialty of this temple. We appreciated their hospitality as well as the tea and cake.

Team B went to Dogo. It is said that there were two roads to lead to Mitsuhama port. Today we wanted to make sure which was the main road to Mitsuhama port from Dogo more than 80 years ago. We dropped by Tsubaki Onsen to ask someone about that. There were a couple of men relaxing after taking bath at a lobby. They were all eighties. Fortunately one of them was the elder in Dogo area who has got intervied for TV before. We asked them a few things as showing some old pictures. Our questions and old pictures seemed to be reminiscent of their old days. They nostalgically started telling us their memories as seeing and pointing the pictures.  ”This road looks narrow now, but it looked wider at that time. We used to go this road by bicycles. This was the main road to Mitsuhama, not that one. That was an alleyway. There were no buildings along the road at that time. You now can't imagine, can't you? The landform mostly hasn't changed. Just buildings and houses have built here and there, and everywhere looks different・・・" While we were listening to their stories, our hearts got warm. Thank you very much for sharing your memories! (Y.A)


Regular tour on the 14th of November

On the 14th of November, we practiced guiding at Matsuyama castle.

The signs of autumn were all around us! Matsuyama castle sits on the top of 132m height hill. While we went up to the top of the hill, we could see the beautiful autumn foliage. It was such a treat. We met many tourists and kindergarten children today.

At Ote-mon site(It used to be a main gate.) we asked a Japanese guide about the stone wall. He explained us several ways to pile up the stones to construct the wall.

In front of Taiko-mon (It’s Drum Gate.),there are cherry trees. It’s very famous that we can see beautiful cherry blossom in early spring. But the autumn leaves of cherry trees are also lovely as they look like little bells.

It was a little cold today, but we enjoyed practicing and colored leaves hunting!

Regular tour on the 7th of November

Team B went to Ishiteji-temple. We met many " ohenro-san" as usual. We affectionately call pilgrims as "ohenro-san". They got off a tour bus and went into the temple. While we went around the temple, some of them finished doing their prayers. We felt that their faces looked very gentle. They must have felt relieved after visiting and praying for their wishes. We would like to wish their prayers get answered and a safe journey.

One of the members of our team went to Hokkaido. She gave us Hokkaido's souvenir. It was one of the famous and delicious cookies. Thanks!!! We were just wondering why Hokkaido's sweets were mostly western style? Then we figured, "there's a lot of dairy farming in Hokkaido." On the other hand, here in Matsuyama's popular souvenirs are Japanese style sweets like Tarto, Bochan-dango, Usuzumi-Yokan, Oyaki and so on. There are many things which are made of sweet beans paste. To foreigners, these sweets must be a bit strange, yet they are perfect. Why don't you come here and taste Matsuyama's sweets?

Poped up Karakuri-dokei
Poped up Karakuri-dokei

Team A went to Dogo area. We didn't see any tourist from abroad today, so we checked our guiding points. If you come to Janan in November and visit a shrine on weekends, you probably see little children in Kimono. Nobember 15th is "Shichi-go-san Day", a festival to celebrate children's growth. Parents bring their children aged 7,5,or 3 to a shrine to pray for divine blessings. They are really pretty!  

Regular tour on the 24th of October

Matsuyama castle was as beautiful as always.  Many kindergarten children came up to the castle.  It was a good day for excursion.  They greeted us "hello" as smiling.  They were cute and well-behaved.  They made us feel happy. We stopped at the site of Bansho-ato(guard station), because some persons were excavating there.  One of our members asked them, "what did you find?" A man kindly explained us what the site showed us.  While he was explaining, many other tourists began to gather in front of the site.  They all eagerly listened to his explanation as nodding.  It was a short but interesting archaeological course.

We met an Italian couple when our guide practice was almost over.  They were on their honeymoon!  They delightfully told us a few points of their favors of the casle.  Those were "the beauty of stone walls, the decoration of the edge of Castle tower's roofs, hidden gate and doorless gate and more"  We were glad to hear that.  Davide and Francesca, we wish you much love and happiness.

Team A went to Ishiteji-temple. Many pilgrims were visiting there because it was a good season for pilgrimage. In addition it was in the special period, when anyone could enter Main hall, pray there, and receive Juzu, Buddhist rosary. It is an annual event of this temple. Some of us take part in this event every year. And we can pray here and there in the precincts for our family, the world peace, and so on. How peaceful it is to visit a temple with friends in a fine autumn day!

Regular tour on the 17th of October

Team A went to Matsuyama Castle. We couldn’t meet any foreign people so we practiced guiding ourselves through the course. It was rainy. The main castle building in the fog made a mysterious atomosphare. Luckily we saw a famous Japanese actress with a film crew. Maybe they were shooting a TV program. We hope she would introduce our favorite Matsuyama castle even more attractively!

Orange juice from the tap
Orange juice from the tap

On 17th of October, B team practiced guiding at Dogo area.

We usually practice it by ourselves. But today we asked Japanese volunteer guide to take us around Dogo area in 30 minutes. It must be a short course.

To see the guiding in Japanese helped us a lot. She told us some interesting stories.

One of them was about Imperial family.

There were many documents about Imperial family in Dogo area. Because it was the very important to stop by Matsuyama on the way to the other land by ship. When the Imperial family went to other land (even abroad),they also stop by here Matsuyama for awaiting a favorable tide.

Another one was about geographical features.

There are many valleys about 16~18 in Dogo area , and there used to be a hot spring source each valleys. At present time there are 17 hot springs sources. We can see the gentle slope around Dogo. The slope goes down to the sea area. That was helped to drain off the drainage from the public bath at that time.

We are still learning about Matsuyama!

Matsuyama City tour on the 4th of October

At 10 am, we met 3 young tourists in front of the ropeway station. They are the US citizens living in Yamaguchi prefecture. They asked us via this website to do English guide. Thank you for your request!

It was a fine, perfect day for sightseeing. The castle tower stands out clearly against the blue sky!

7 minutes chairlift ride was fun. Then we became famous characters of the novel “Botchan”.

We had burgers which were made of locally harvested or farmed ingredients for lunch. I wonder if they enjoyed Matsuyama’s local foods...

Then we took a bus to the Ishiteji-temple. This temple is somewhat chaotic, but very popular among tourists and local people. Through the dark tunnel we went to a garden with many statues. Did they like that?

15 minute-walk took us to the Dogo area. We showed how to visit a Shinto shrine. A Shinto priest was doing a ceremonial purification for several people. Down the steep steps we finally arrived at the Dogo Onsen Honkan. At quarter past three we said good- by to them. (They would take a bath.)

Thanks for visiting Matsuyama. Please recommend our city to your friends!

Regular tour on the 3rd of October

Team  B practiced guiding at Ishite-ji temple.

It was clear weather today! We saw many pilgrims as usual, and also many schoolchildren who drew pictures around the temple.

Skeching events are held here and there at this time of year. They sat on the ground as they liked, and they were working hard on their pictures as they stared at temple buildings or the views.

At first we started practicing by ourselves, then luckily we met a French woman in front of Daishi-do. She kindly gave us her time for our practicing.

She asked me. "why are there five-story pagoda and three-story pagoda?". We acutually didn't know the reason. There are still many things we don't know. 

It was just about 20 minutes, but we had a good time with her. I hope she will have a good time here in Matsuyama.

Team A went to Dogo.

At Isaniwa Shrine, we met a couple from Philadelphia . They kindly accepted our offer of guiding.

They listened to our explanation sincerely, and asked us some intriguing questions. They spoke some Japanese, too.

After that, we walked to Ishite-ji Temple with them. Every Japanese thing, like a small insect or a nameless plant pleased them. They were always smiling as if they were our own parents. (Of course, they are too young to be ours!)

“Thank you for your warm heart. We hope to see you and your family some time!”

Excursion to Uchiko on the 30th of September

at Uchiko-za theater
at Uchiko-za theater

We went on an excursion to Uchiko with our Nepalese friends. We enjoyed classical town with Uchiko English Volunteer Guides. They guided us Uchiko-za theater, a hand-made candle shop and Kami-haga residence. They’re excellent guides!

At this night, a moon admiring festival held in Uchiko. An old main street was lighted up by candles and lanterns. We admired beautiful full moon with traditional Japanese live music. It was fantastic!

Regular tour on the 19th of September

Team B went to Matsuyama Castle. Today, the weather was nice and crisp as the refreshing breeze coming through. It’s the beginning of autumn now!

We couldn’t meet any foreign people, so we practiced guiding ourselves around the castle tower. Today we practiced as an actual guiding. One of our members hasn’t had any opportunity of guiding yet. She is practicing hard, and she hopes she will guide foreign people one day!

Fortunately, we came across the excavation on the way to the castle. Several people were digging the ground where the middle gate once stood. They said that they had already found some of the relics there. How mysterious and interesting!

Team A

"Ouch!", we couldn't stand without holding a handrail when we first got in a footbath. After a while, "effective~", we cried. Many white stones are beautifully paved in the bottom of the footbath of Dogokan, yet they are not for the appearence. Those stones stimulate pressure points in our foot. It's painful first, and when you are used to it, your foot become a great deal easier. Depending on the degree of the pain, you will know about your health condition. We explored a few curious places in Dogo. This was one of them. Try it for yourself and see!

We met two Japanese men who came to Matsuyama to attend the metal chemistry conference in Ehime univercity. They told us they tried to get in the 1,200yen of bathing in Dogo onsen. They said, "it was fantastic! We had a great time. We felt worthy enough to pay and get in such a wonderful hot spring." We all Matsuyama residences were glad to hear that. Three of us never tried such high ranked bathing, though we know there are four ranked bathing ways. One of them said, "I would like to come back with my wife and baby again. My wife is expecting in November." We enjoyed "Ichigo-ichie, treasure every encounter, for it will never recur" as usual.

Tea ceremony and Castle tour on 15th of September.

We had a nice guest Daniel from US. We visited Ninomaru garden to have Japanese powdered green tea. Tea masters hold tea ceremony in Ninomaru garden on weekends from 10:30 to 15:30. Anyone can enjoy traditional experience in a Japanese open-door house. Masters wearing Kimono taught us manner of tea ceremony with hospitality. It was great time for us! (Ninomaru entrance fee is 100 yen. A cup of green tea with Japanese sweets is 300 yen.)

And then we walked up through the castle woods to the middle of the castle hill. In front of Tsutsuimon-gate, costumed door men entertained visitors. We took pictures with them. We saw old armors, swards, currencies and others in the Main castle building. We also enjoyed old castle structure as itself and open view from the top floor. At last we went down to the Shinonome shrine. Matsuyama castle has a lot of highlights!

In this 3 hours, we got along with Daniel. Keep in touch,Daniel! 

Irregular tour on 14 of September

at ishite-ji temple
at ishite-ji temple

In the morning, we met the professor again at a front of the hotel he was staying, then we got the tram to Dogo. We explained about the Bochan train and the mechanical clock. And we said a Dogo onsen main building was one of model of the bath house in the Japanese film “Spirited away” by Hayao Miyazaki. In Matsuyama there are many stone monuments written Haiku. So we walked to Ishite-ji temple with explaining each Haiku. At Ishite-ji we striked the bell, prayed at the incense burner together. Then we went through the cave, watched Okuno-in and went to the Isaniwa shrine and some temples. He said that steep slope looked like San Francisco. We had never thought that! After lunch we said good-bye at Dogo onsen main building. We felt lonely because it was so brilliant time for us. We are really looking forward to seeing him again. And we study English guide harder for our special day!

Regular tour on 12 of September

Team A did training at the Matsuyama Castle. We checked the comment about some gates and turrets. And we talked about how to use the time to explain many things. After training we met one foreigner on our way to lunch. Luckily we could have lunch together. He is from Russia, and now he’s a professor in US. The lunch menu was raw fish, white rice, miso soup and some small dishes. After lunch we had some hot green tea. He was interested in Japanese and had a plan to visit to Dogo and Ishite-ji temple on Friday. We made an offer to guide him and he said yes! It became a great meeting for us.

Team B went to Ishiteji-temple. There were many pilgrims, some were on a bus tour and other young men were probably on foot. We had no guest today. After checking the explanations inside the temple’s ground, we went through the cave to see the weird area. (Tourists from abroad like it---well, there’s no accounting for taste.) Although the lighting was a little improved, inside the cave was dark as usual. The garden in the area was overgrown with weeds, stray cats were playing around and statues had decayed. Are they telling us that all things are in flux and nothing is permanent?

Regular tour on 5 of September

Waterlily in Dogo park
Waterlily in Dogo park

All the members went to Dogo today. During our scheduled hours, we couldn’t have any foreign tourists. We trained by ourselves.

After lunch, two of us went around this area again to check out a couple of things. And we had luck to meet three foreigners at Isaniwa Shrine,

They were very nice. One is from Portugal , two from Lebanon .

Two of them were architects. They were interested in architecture of this shrine. I wish I had been able to explain to them better. They were kind enough to take pictures of us.

I hope to explain better next time. Thank you for your time!


Tourists from Purtugal and Lebanon
Tourists from Purtugal and Lebanon

Regular tour on 29 of August 2012

On 29th of August, Team B trained guiding inside of Matsuyama castle and around it.

We started our practice from a ticket office of main castle and confirmed our explanations.

Fortunately we met a tourist who came from Belgian. He was kind to share time with us, so we had an opportunity to guide him. After we got out from the castle, we had shaved ices at a restaurant which stands behind the well. He explained us that his first name,Eudes, was once popular among the nobles in the Middle Ages in France. The name suits him! We had a great time!

Team A went to Dogo. What we did today was to research some souvenir shops and a few more footbaths. A book of "Yu no machi Dogo" was published lately. You will be Dogo's pro if you read the book. Every little thing about Dogo is written in it. The shops owners always try to find another way of how to attract many more tourists. We thought it would be good to get new information around Dogo according to the book. Footbaths were very comfortable to get in our foot. It would be much better if the weather was cool. It will take away your tiredness when you sit and soak your foot in the footbath for a while. After enjoying footbaths, we visited "Sen Guesthouse". It is located several minutes walk from Dogo. The owner showed us rooms. The warm service reaches everywhere in all the rooms. We felt their hospitable minds. The price is reasonable. Today we again knew many good aspects of Dogo area.

Regular tour on 8 of August 2012

Team A went to Matsuyama castle and did a guide for an English couple. They were interested in Japanese castles. So we visited the main castle building and Ninomaru Park. There were some water gardens and citrus trees. It was so hot and humid but the clear sound of “Suikinkutsu” made us feel less tired. It’s important to know what the foreigners are interested in. And I want to have more enjoyable communication each other.

Team B went to Dogo area. It was a scorching hot day. We set up two targets; Isaniwa Shrine and Hogon-ji Temple . On our way there, we dropped by Funaya Hotel, where we could look in at a room for the imperial family for free, and felt nice and cool for a few minutes.

At Isaniwa Shrine, we focused on explaining sangaku, or Japanese mathematics tablets. Now again we were surprised at how much advanced their ability at mathematics was in those days.

And at Hogon-ji Temple , we discussed how great Ippen Shonin was. He was always on the side with poor and illiterate people.

Unfortunately we had no foreign guests, but we had an interesting tour and got a lot from these precious heritages.

Regular tour on 1 of August 2012

Team A went to Dogo area. We luckily saw one of the rituals taking place at Yugama Yakushi. The oldest stone caldron, which was made in the 8th century, is enshrined there. This ritual was held to thank the guardian deity of Yugama Yakushi and blessings of nature. This ritual seems to be carried out every year on August 1st. It was an interesting ceremony.

After that, we went through Dogo shopping mall while we were practicing a guiding. It was too hot to keep walking around for a long time . We had a break for a while at one of the shops, and we met a woman and a foreign man eating soft-serve ice cream there. The woman was a mother of host-family, and a young guy was from the Netherlands. We enjoyed talking a bit of this and that.

He is going back to his country next week. He told us, "I really like Ehime and Japanese food. I especially like Okonomiyaki". He seemed to be interested in Shinto, yet we didn't have enough time to talk about Shinto. We saw two people heading for Ishiteji-Temple when we left Dogo. We hope he will safe go back to his country with a lot of wonderful memories.

Summer has come in Dogo! Many kinds of summer events are on the waiting list. Let's enjoy together!

Team B went to Matsuyama castle. We had no guest today, so we practiced guiding in turn,from the rope way station thorugh the top of the hill to the back side of the main castle building. I recommend you to visit the back side of the main castle complex! Go through the Inui-mon gate and walk along the walls. I'm sure you enjoy the beauty of the stone walls. Some of them have familly crests marks on them. The path goes just next to the castle forest. Refreshing winds cool you off. 

Regular tour on18 of July 2012

Our four members went to Matsuyama Castle. We couldn’t meet foreign visitors, so we separated into two group and guide training.   It was very hot. But in the shade of a tree we felt refreshing wind. And we could see a Seto-island sea so clearly from the top of the hill. A Japanese guide of this castle let us beat the drum in the castle turret. It was fun! Now we can explain how to beat it at our guiding!  

A gate of a cave
A gate of a cave

The rainy season”Tsuyu” was over.

It was a sunny,hot and humid day!!There was no tourist from abroad at Ishiteji- temple. So we took many photos for our Web pages and practiced shooting short films, in which we guide attractions of the temple. Soon or later we will show you the films in our website. A cave behind the temple is a good place to cool your body. When you come to the Ishiteji-temple in a hot summer day, I strongly recommend you to go into it!

Regular tour on11 of July 2012

We trained guiding in Dogo area.Today’s course was from Dogo Onsen tram station to Dogo hot spring main building include “Yushin-den", the bathroom for the imperial family.Unfortunately, we could’t guide any foreign visitors today.But we enjoyed walking around Dogo area,and improved ourselves at guiding skill!(team-A)

We also couldn't catch foreign tourists. But we found a new spot to guide.This is the oldest stone wall in Matsuyama Castle. Rough stones are piled up. Here’s a parking lot beside a street of Ropeway station. (team-B)

Ishiteji and Dogo in July 2012

Yushin-den ticket
Yushin-den ticket

On 2nd of July, I guided nice Dutch couple and student Ishiteji temple, Isaniwa shrine. We took a rest at Mikan-no-ki(Juice & ice cream stand) beside Dogo Onsen main building. Luckily we could hear a drum beat of Dogo Onsen to tell the time at 6pm. Then we visited emperor’s bath ”Yushin-den” in Dogo Onsen main building(admission fee:250yen/person). We had a great time! (MS)

At Ishite-ji Temple in June 2012

Front of the Three-Storey Pagodas at Ishite-ji Temple
Front of the Three-Storey Pagodas at Ishite-ji Temple

On June 6th , we guided a Nepalese lady through Ishite-temple. She was interested in its bell and incense burners, which reminded her of temples in her country. She asked us some questions about difference between the manners of our religions. I’m not sure we could answer all of them well, but we enjoyed talking about our cultures in both countries.

At Matsuyama Castle in May 2012

Honmaru-hiroba At Matsuyama Castle
Honmaru-hiroba At Matsuyama Castle

The natural emvironment has been preserved in this area. Today we divided the member into 3 teams. How we got luck! Each teams could guide the foreign visiters.

Comments of A-team;

We guided a couple from California. They knows about Japanese history and culture. We hope that they enjoyed our guide. They asked us how long it was used. I knew the answer, but I couldn't find the word of 'Restoration'! I promised myself that I stady more hard. We were so happy to talk with them! Thank you for participating in our group!

Comments of B-team;

 Our team did a guide for a girl from Germany. She is Bettina, traveling around Japan before going back to her country. She speaks Japanese and English, knows a lot about Japanese history and culture. We explained the castle in English and Japanese. She said our guide helped her to know many things about Matsuyama castle. After the guide, she asked us what's a typical souvenir in Matsuyama. She needs to buy some for her friends. We brought her several shops and showed products made in Matsuyama or in Ehime.  We had a good time!

At the Main Tower of Matsuyama Castle
At the Main Tower of Matsuyama Castle

Comments of C-team;

We guided a man from UK. I talked to him to join our tour at the middle of the hill. He said it was his first time to visit Japan and Japanese castle. We explained about defensive points of Matsuyama castle. We also guided in the main castle tower (entrance fee 500yen). The exhibition in the castle shows armors, swords, works of calligraphy etc. which are related to this castle(17th-19th century). He seemed to enjoy our tour very much.


At Dogo area in May 2012.

Front of the mechanical clock in Dogo
Front of the mechanical clock in Dogo

We trained with a gentleman who came from Australia today. He lives already a long time in Matsuyama.  He helped us to correct our pronuncination and explanation. After the practice, he told us about his country. Of course we had a lot of fun!

Thank you very much for your advices!

At Matsuyama Castle in April 2012.

Honmaru-hiroba at Matsuyama Castle
Honmaru-hiroba at Matsuyama Castle

Today, famous cellist Mr. Nathaniel Rosen and his wife joined  us. His activities are very well known worldwide. Now they live in Matsuyama. He enjoyed to be guided by us. Later we invited them for the party under the cherry blossoms (called Hanami). Everyone brought the meal for it. It was such a wonderful day for Hanami! After we met the owner of "Sen Guesthouse" in Dogo, the owners are a Japanese and American young couple. A nice and reasonable place to stay during your visiting in Matsuyama.

At Ishite-ji Temple in April 2012.

Front of Dogo Onsen
Front of Dogo Onsen

It was so nice and warm day. I met a nice couple, who came from Switzerland, at Ishite-ji temple. They like Japanese culture, religion, food, and people. I could spend a nice time with them. Thank you for making the time for me today.

Und mein Man hat gesagt 'Schweizer Schokolade ist sehr lecker!' und das ist richtig! Vielen Dank! und Gute Reise!

At Matsuyama Castle in Feb. 2012

At Matsuyama Castle
At Matsuyama Castle

It was such a cold day, but we practiced of course! Today one American who likes correcting the Japanese antiques jointed us. He helped for our explanations, too. During our practiced, we met two Italians also. They are the brother, and the one of them live in Kumamoto, Japan. He works as a Pizzaiolo in  the 'CHI-Ka Joulium' with his Japanese wife. We helped them to put on the 'Yoroi' (armor).  That costume became them! Thank you for both of your kindness in coming us!

At Ishite-ji Temple in Jan. 2012.

We had a light snow today. It was the 3rd. time to practice at Ishite-ji Temple. This time, an Englishman who lives around 10years in Matsuyama helped us to correct our way to guide. He was deeply interested in Japanese culture, and we could not yet perfectly answer his questions. Thank you very much for your help and we were glad to talk to you a lot!

At Ishite-ji Temple in Dec. 2011.

Looking up to the statue
Looking up to the statue

At winter time, we trained with a German and her friend. She asked us some questions, however we couldn`t answer soon. It was nice to study what kind of things they are interested in. Thank you very much for your suggestions!

At Ishite-ji Temple in Nov. 2011.

Osunanade; small pilgrimage
Osunanade; small pilgrimage

During we were training we met one tourist. We asked him to join our training, and he accepted our offer. Then we spent around 1 hour together. He came from England and is a musician. Later we had lunch together. He appreciated us for our guide. He will come back to Matsuyama and contact us soon again. Thank you to join us!