2017-03-31 11:05 am

We have been Spirited Away

In the city of Matsuyama is a famous onsen (hot spa), Dougo Onsen. So famous that it had an extension built especially for the Emperor; and the author, Natsume Souseki set his most famous novel, Botchan, in the city in which the onsen played a major part in the story, almost becoming a character in itelf. However, its most famous and recent role as muse was for the animated film 'Spirited Away'. Studio Ghibli sent its animators to spend time in the onsen, absorbing its atmosphere. And it shows.

From the outside it's a fabulous building. Having been extended and modified over the years it's a fabulous hotch-potch of roofs and sticky-out bits. Once inside, the labyrinth of passages and stairs really do give a sense of the maze that the onsen in Spirited Away so beautifully conveyed. The bath I was in (boys and girls most correctly separated) was made of a stone that looks like polished granite, so has a rather gloomy interior. However, not in a depressing way, but entirely in keeping with the atmosphere of the place.

Once suitably refreshed, we sat in a large tatami room (private rooms extra) and given green tea and biscuits. All very civilised and delightful.

Sadly, the weather, as can be evidenced from the photos, was awful and any further exploration of Matsuyama was prevented. However, Dougo Onsen was well worth the trip.