Saturday, October 19, 2013

Urban Street Car Bound for Japan’s Oldest Hot Spring

Electric car, type MoHa 50 (2nd batch) leaves Ookaido Stop on the Shinai Line, Iyo Railway
 
Matsuyama is the largest city in Shikoku Island. The population now stands at 0.52 million. It is a busy city as the administrative and the industrial center of Ehime Prefecture, but Matsuyama also has an important sightseeing spot in the downtown area.

Look at the following photo. It is the main building of Dogo hot spring. Dogo is Japan's oldest hot spring which opened about 3,000 years ago, judging from unearthed articles. As a written record, there is an ancient text, in which Prince Shotoku took a bath in Dogo Hot Spring in 596. The current main building was reconstructed in 1894, and was designated as a cultural asset of national importance in 1994. As you may know, this building is a model of "Aburaya" in Spirited Away, which is the famous Japanese animated fantasy film.

To get to this urban hot spring, take a street car of Iyo Railway from JR Shikoku Matsuyama Station. It takes about 20 minutes. The top photograph shows the second manufactured group of the electric car, Type MoHa 50 on the tram line. Unit number MoHa 69, which I show in the photo, was manufactured by Naniwa Koki in 1962. Different from the first manufactured group, the top roof is shallower, and the body is lighter than those of the first manufactured group of cars.

Getting on an urban street car and visiting the old hot spring... it is a unique attraction in Matsuyama City.

 
Main building of Dogo hot spring near Dogo Onsen Station on the Iyo Railway