Every Japanese person, and quite a lot of non-Japanese know the name and works of literary master Soseki Natsume.
He spent a year in Matsuyama as an English teacher at an Ehime prefectural middle school (Matsuyama middle school, currently Matsuyama high school), and as many people know, from that experience he created the masterpiece “Botchan”.
The “matchbox-like train” he describes in “Botchan” is this “Botchan Ressha”. In 2001, thanks to the enthusiasm of locals and the passion of Iyo Railway, it was restored to its original appearance.
The final station on the route of “Botchan Ressha” is Dogo Onsen Station. Apparently, the current Meiji periodesque, retro-style building is the third generation!
Dogo Onsen Station’s specialty is the change of direction for “Botchan Ressha”. The train is lifted up with its onboard jack, and manually turned around.
Apparently, this is quite a rare method in Japan, and there are many people who visit Dogo Onsen Station just to see it.
All of the conductors wear retro-style uniforms reminiscent of the Meji era. They look cool, don’t you think?
A retro-style train with conductors wearing such attire; it’s almost as if you’ve slipped back in time to the Meiji era!
As the train comes closer to the platform after changing course, the conductor leans out and waves to the tourists.
As municipal railways run on the same tracks, you can see “Botchan Ressha” together with railway cars, too.
If you compare them, “Botchan Ressha” is indeed small. As you might expect of Soseki, “a matchbox-like train” is a phrase that fits perfectly.
Although its small, its proportions are perfect.
Both the exterior and the interior of the cars have been restored in such faithful detail that it’s enough to make a railway fan groan, and seeing it with your own eyes is quite touching.
“Botchan Ressha” is a cute, amazing train. If you visit Matsuyama, we recommend taking a ride!
Stops at the following stations: Dogo Onsen – Okaido – Matsuyama City station – JR Matsuyama station – Komachi
Fare: Adults JPY300, Children JPY200
Tel: 089-948-3323 (Iyo Railway)
*Tickets can be purchased from the ticket sales counter, or from the conductor on the train.
With a “Botchan Ressha” ticket, riding the Iyotetsu Takashimaya Kururin Ferris wheel is free of charge.
The Setouchi Finder Editors
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