Matsuyama, on Shikoku, has an excellent system of trams for getting around the city. One other train worth riding at least once is the Botchan Steam Train, which runs two routes from a Meiji-era period piece wooden station at Dogo Onsen to both Matsuyama-shi station or Komachi Station and then back again.
The small steam engines were imported from Germany and were in use from 1887 to 1954.
They have now been reintroduced as a tourist attraction and are called Botchan as they are mentioned in Natsume Soseki's novel of that name.
Soseki lived in Matsuyama for a year teaching English at a Middle School and the steam trains and Dogo Onsen are mentioned in his most famous novel, Botchan. After the novel became famous, residents began referring to the trains as "Botchan ressha" (Botchan trains).
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008