Art, gardens and warm feet

We set out to visit the world’s best Japanese garden, but we barely set foot in it. That’s okay, because it’s designed to be viewed through glass windows.

A local express delivered us to Yasugi with it’s very wooden station selling all manner of local crafts and foodstuffs. From there the free shuttle bus took us to the Adachi Museum of Art.

The museum specialises in Japanese artwork and ceramics, but is perhaps best known for its garden, consistently voted the world’s best. Most of the garden can only be viewed from inside the museum building, the windows turning the view into an artwork in itself. It is a picture of perfection, carefully placed stones, perfectly raked gravel and meticulously trimmed bushes standing against a backdrop of mountains. The garden is scrupulously maintained by the museum staff, a video display showing one member using a handheld lawnmower to trim the grass.

I was actually glad that we were viewing the garden from the indoors because the weather was bitterly cold and there was the odd shower or two.

The artworks themselves varied in quality from childish cutesy paintings to serene landscapes evoking mystical imaginings. The ceramics were mainly from the highly influential Kitano Rosanjin, but I have to admit that I didn’t particularly like most of the items.

By the time that we had finished touring the collection and returned to Matsue it was too late to visit most of the major tourist sites. One that wouldn’t be closed was a free foot onsen near Matsue Onsen station. So we decided to walk there.

It was an interesting walk across the rivers of Matsue and through some historic streets of tiny shops. It was quite a long walk too, especially in the icy winds!

The foot onsen is located right outside of Matsue Onsen station (it’s a private line and not connected with the main JR line in Matsue). We removed our shoes and let the pebbled bottom massage our tired feet while they bathed in the warm, but not especially hot, waters.

I had bathed in the famous Dogo Onsen during our last trip to Japan. B couldn’t join me as she was pregnant at the time, so it was her turn now.

We asked at the nearby local produce centre if there were any public onsens in the area and they directed us to one near the waterfront of Lake Shinji.

While B tried out the onsen, I, with Alex on my chest, wandered the shores of Lake Shinji to take photos of the sunset. The lake was beautifully calm, ducks and fishing boats bobbing on the surface. Unfortunately, it was too cold to stay out long, especially for Alex.

It was dark by the time we returned to the hotel. We went in search of some specialised maternity items for B at the chemist under the station, but they had none and directed us to Saty, just down the road.

Saty seems to be a big, but cheaper, department store/supermarket. There were also eateries and cinemas in the buildng. B found what she wanted, but after feeding Alex in the baby room it was after 9pm. Alex was a bit whingy, so we went looking for somewhere fast to eat, choosing a sushi restaurant.

They were just about to close, so we didn’t have much choice of dishes. At least I had some slices of perfect, thick, milky white bread back in the hotel room.

When we returned to the hotel I discovered that my photo uploads stalled before I could put anything much up. A very tiring day and I took the opportunity of a lack of internet access to go to be early.

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