[kyoto -> matsue]
On Saturday, we ate breakfast at the hotel, then bid Kyoto farewell. A bus ride and two shinkansen rides later, we were in Matsue.
This was a pretty big change. After a week in Kyoto, arguably the cultural center of Japan, with its hundreds upon hundreds of temples and shrines, we were in a very small city with only a handful of touristy spots in town.
Also, we went from a fairly westernized hotel setting to a more traditional, tatami-and-futon Japanese room. I bathed at the hotel's public bath -- a first for me since I was a boy (several tattoos and piercings later) -- and am pleased to say that no one accused me of being yakuza or made any sort of fuss at all; everyone pretty much kept to themselves.
Matsue Castle is the third of the original construction castles I've been to. Back in the Meiji Restoration, a number of castles were torn down to emphasize the end of feudalism as it once existed, but the people of Matsue begged to be allowed to keep their castle. I'm going to guess that Matsue was also not a strategic target in World War II, saving the castle from bombing.
They call it the Black Castle.
[adachi museum of art]
We took a bus to the station and another bus to the Adachi Museum of Art, which was absolutely packed. Also, the gardens were off limits; you had to admire them or photograph them from inside or behind barriers. And, of course, no photography inside.
The museum has the largest collection of Yokoyama Taikan's art, which I enjoyed. A looped video showed how the entire museum, including the design of the garden, was inspired by Yokoyama Taikan's art.
The website has a few pictures of Taikan's art. The autumn leaves screen was my favorite, and took up an entire wall.
I finished the main section of the museum fairly quickly, then noticed there was an annex with a large collection of paintings and other art much later, right before we were about to leave. I could have spent more time there, but it was crowded, we were tired, and after this bus there wasn't another one for over an hour and a half. We left and took it easy in the hotel.
Blown out skies still make me sad. But it was pretty.
These were at the Yasugi station; I think there's a local cartoonist with these characters.
Our original plan was to take the shinkansen to Hiroshima -- a 3-4 leg trip. Then we found there was a direct bus from Mitsue to Hiroshima, which would be cheaper, faster, and less of a hassle with transfers. Unfortunately, even though the morning's bus was nearly empty, they were very strict with luggage size/weight limits.
It turns out that there's a very cheap and efficient way to send your luggage across Japan, called takkyubin. My parents had already used that several times, to send their luggage to the next hotel before traveling lightly themselves. I put my laptop, all my camera gear, and a few days' worth of clothes in my backpack + camera bag, and we shipped my suitcase to the hotel in Nara.