This was not a good morning for me. I'd coughed until 3 AM and got barely a couple of hours of sleep. I even wondered if I'd have to find a doctor in Japan. Luckily, I'd brought every cold medicine I could think of in my travel supply with us. I usually don't have to use them, but I did on this trip. Both mom and I used the cough lozenges, Sudafed, Alka Seltzer Cold Plus, Airborne, Benedryl, Claritin and Coricidin (Mom).
I was well enough to have a substantial breakfast. Feed a cold, starve a fever, right?
We then walked to the gondola lift leading to the top of the mountain where Matsuyama Castle stood guard proudly.
Mom and I rode the ropeway.
Art and my brother, Dennis did the chairlift. As you can see, they're taking photos of us in the gondola lift.
A volunteer guide saw us and immediately found a kindred history buff in Mom.
She had to explain again why neither Dennis nor Art could/would speak Japanese. She must have had to explain it a hundred times while in Japan.
She told him that Issei and Nissei could but Sansei (3rd generation) like us usually couldn't.
He asked why I could, and she told him somebody had to talk to her. Very funny... (She didn't tell him that she usually advises me to stick to English while in Japan.)
There was more hana fubuki (flower blizzard) in Matsuyama and we loved it. There was a carpet of flower petals everywhere.
Our guide showed us how the castle was made without nails. Everything was interlocking!
The guide would point out something to mom and she would then explain it to us.
Sometimes I would then re-translate it for Art.
Dennis understands more Japanese than Art even though he refuses to speak it.
Here, our guide explained how boiling water was poured onto the enemy from above.
Some varieties of cherry blossoms were still blooming!
Our guide offered to take our photo for us with the castle in the background.
Camellias seem to also be in bloom everywhere in Japan. Mom says the seeds are used to make oil.
Our guide offered to take us up the castle tower, but Mom really couldn't take the stairs so she and I stayed under a beautiful cherry blossom tree while Art and Dennis did the climb.
They both got to try the taiko drum.
They saw samurai armor. It's surprising to see how small the Japanese were in stature a long time ago. Today, the younger generation of Japanese are about the same as anywhere else...
...except the Netherlands. The Dutch are VERY tall.
They got a wonderful view from the top of the castle. Mom and I were under one of those cherry blossom trees.
Here we are sitting pretty.
Mom says there's some kind of saying that everybody looks good standing (or sitting) under a cherry blossom tree.
We were testing the theory.
I saw these small flowers growing right on the castle walls and had to take one or twenty photos of them.
Our guide said he used to be in computer technology, but now he volunteers as a guide for fun. We invited him to have a soft serve with us. I can't remember what flavor this was. I'll bet Dennis remembers.
After viewing the castle we went down to the city to have lunch. We noticed this glorious tree with the most exquisite double petal cherry blossoms.
We stopped at a restaurant called Bakudanya (The Bomb).
There was a scale from 1-20 for how hot-spicy you wanted your meal. Art chose 5, Dennis chose 17! Mom and I had 0.
Then we saw a pictorial diagram showing what the rating scale meant.
Dennis did get a little worried. He was counting on the fact that he knew most Japanese do not like their food too too too spicy. He was right.
We did a little souvenir hunting. Dennis needed to get some things for his family. Finding gifts for the family is just the hardest thing to do. We returned to the hotel, repacked our two leapfrogging suitcases and sent them to Narita Airport through the Yamato takkyubin service. This is such a godsend.
The four of us would now be living out of one suitcase and three small backpacks for 4 days. It was a bit of a challenge, but doable.
Dinner was at a restaurant called Chinchikurin. For some reason Mom kept giggling every time she said the name.
Ever since we tasted okonomiyaki in Hiroshima four years ago, we've never found a place that served them as wonderfully. The taste, consistency, sauce, whatnot was never the same.
We finally found it! They said they were cooking it in the Hiroshima style.
Then again.... maybe it was that Asahi beer we all had with our meal that added that extra bit of perfection to the meal.