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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Shikoku Autumn 2014 四国秋季之旅 - Matsuyama JR Station 松山駅, Iyotetsu Streetcar 伊予鉄道電車, Botchan Train 坊ちゃん列車


Matsuyama JR Station (Y55, U00) is located on the Yosan line.

Matsuyama is the capital city of Ehime Prefecture. Don't be surprise to see a lackluster mood after stepping out from the train station. Matsuyama JR Station is actually not located in the busiest district of the city and one would have to take the Iyo Railway streetcar to Matsuyama city station to experience the vitality of the crowd.

Bottom left: Limited Express Shiokaze; Right: Meet Bari san, the lovable mascot of Imabari city.
Home to mascot celebrities! Ehime Prefecture has two famous mascots (or yurukyara) which have appeared at the top of the list in Yurukyara Grand Prix held annually in Japan.

- Bari san (バリィさん), a plump looking chicken wearing a crown depicting Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge (a bridge which links Hiroshima in Honshu island to Imabari city in Ehime Prefecture) and holding on to a ship. This mascot represents Imabari city, where ship building businesses flourishes and is famous for yakitori. Bari san won the Yurukyara Grand Prix title in 2012 and his popularity has created a wide range of merchandises which can be found in shops located in most tourist attractions in Ehime Prefecture.

- Mikyan (みきゃん), a orange coloured dog which has ears of Mikan leaves and a tail of Mikan flower. This mascot was created in 2011 and is inspired by Mikan or mandarin orange, a citrus fruit which Ehime Prefecture is well known for. Mikyan has participated in Yurukyara Grand Prix and is slowly catching up in terms of ranking - came in 3rd and 2nd in 2014 and 2015 edition, respectively.

Meet Mikyan, an orange coloured dog with mikan leaves ears and heart shaped nose!
Some limited express and special themed trains that serve Ehime JR Station:
(1) Limited Express Uwakai, which commutes between Matsuyama and Uwajima.
(2) Limited Express Ishizushi, which commutes between Takamatsu and Matsuyama, Uwajima.
(3) Limited Express Shiokaze, which commutes between Okayama, Matsuyama and Uwajima
(4) Iyonoda Monogatari (伊予灘ものがたり), a special themed train newly introduced in 2014, which commutes between Matsuyama to Iyo Ozu and Yawatahama via the sea route of Yosan line. 

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What's nearby?

A regular streetcar.
(1) Iyotetsu/Iyo Railway Streetcar 伊予鉄道電車
Streetcar is an important form of public transportation for both locals and tourists in Matsuyama city. The incentive of holding on to All Shikoku Rail Pass is that no additional train fares is charged while on board the streetcar.

There are a total of five routes serving Matsuyama city:
- Route 1: clockwise loop from Matsuyama city station to Okaido, Matsuyama JR Station and back to its starting point.
- Route 2: anti clockwise loop from Matsuyama city station, to Matusyama JR Station, Okaido and back to it starting point.
- Route 3: between Matsuyma city station and Dogo Onsen.
- Route 5: between Matsuyama JR Station and Dogo Onsen.
- Route 6: between Honmachi-6-chrome and Dogo Onsen.

Time seemed to have stopped at Dogo Onsen station.
Navigation: 
- For Matsuyama Castle 松山城: from Matsuyama JR Station, take Route 5 heading for Dogo Onsen, alight at Okaido 大街道 and walk to the ropeway/chairlift station.
- For Dogo Onsen 道後温泉: from Matsuyama JR Station, take Route 5 heading for Dogo Onsen and alight at the terminus station.
- For Matsuyama City Iyotetsu Station 松山市駅: from Matsuyama JR Station, take Route 1 and alight at the terminus station. Iyotetsu Takashimaya (いよてつ高島屋), a large scale departmental mall which contains Kinokuniya and Tokyu Hands, is connected to the train station.

Website: http://www.iyotetsu.co.jp/bus/global/en/

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Botchan Train 坊ちゃん列車



Nostalgia. This is a diesel powered replica of a steam locomotive train which once travelled along the streets of Matsuyama city over a century ago. The name "Botchan" came from title of this popular novel written by famous author, Natsume Soseki, back in 1906. As this steam locomotive train was mentioned in this novel, locals started to call this train by the name of "Botchan" affectionately. The train pulls along one to two wooden carriages and releases the whistling sound as it chugs along the common streetcar railroad, just like how the conventional train does! There are two sets of Botchan Train (No. 1 and 14) that take turns to transport passengers down the memory lane. For those who are unable to make it in time to board the train, one set is usually put up for display at the terminus station in Dogo Onsen. Many would also make it a point to visit Matsuyama city station to witness how the head of Botchan Train is reversed physically by operators after the train pulled into this terminus station.


Experience. Had the opportunity to board Botchan Train from Dogo Onsen (twice in fact) and the ride was amazing! Botchan Train felt so much smaller in size as compared to other steam locomotive trains which I have ridden before. Train conductors were smartly dressed in black coloured overalls, carrying a sling purse containing tickets and money, just like how they do in the older days. Throughout the entire journey, friendly conductor will pop in to introduce/explain the various features of the train (such as the wooden window blinds and overhead lamps which were kerosene operated in the past) and nearby surroundings, and even lend their hats to passengers for photo taking purposes. A ride on Botchan Train is definitely a must-do activity to be arranged in any first time visit to Matsuyama city.


Note: No additional train fare is charged with All Shikoku Rail Pass. Bocchan Train operates on both weekdays and weekends, but with different schedules. Therefore, do check out the schedule published on Iyotetsu website.

Website: http://www.iyotetsu.co.jp/botchan/

Video: 
Botchan Train was featured in Taiwan's travel program 爱玩志.

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Commemorative stamp:


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