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3-Day Model Trip Day3

3-Day Model Trip Day3 / Tokai / Kashiko-jima Island - Ago-wan Bay sightseeing - Matsusaka - Nagoya

Kashiko-jima Island is in the picturesque Ago-wan Bay, and has long been a popular tourist center. It is a Rias coastline famous for its beautiful views, and was shaped into a rich variety of complex patterns by sea erosion and movements of the earth's crust acting on eroded mountains. We have come aboard the Ago-wan sightseeing boat so that we can enjoy this scenery.

The sightseeing boat departs from Kashikojima Port in front of Kashikojima Station. This boat is called the Esperanza, and is modeled on a medieval Spanish sailing ship. It is a large boat, and can carry 250 passengers. Because Ago-wan Bay is an inland sea, the waves are very small, so it is like a lake. The boat takes 50 Minutes to go round the whole bay, and lets you enjoy the calm, beautiful scenery - like Sakishima-hanto Peninsula and the islands that rise out of the bay or cling to the coastline. Emblematic of this area are the pearl cultivation rafts that you can see here and there throughout the bay. They lend an accent to the inland sea's scenery and wavelets.

Now we have finished this sightseeing, it is time to go to Matsuzaka, which takes about one Hour by Limited Express. It is known as the production center for fine beef - so much so that when the Japanese hear the word "Matsuzaka", they immediately think of Matsuzaka beef. In fact, it is not just the center for Matsuzaka beef, but also a place that flourished as a castle town, so there are lots of historic remains. You can see the main sights of Matsuzaka on foot. So let's start walking.

The first place we are visiting is Matsuzaka Merchant Hall. In the Edo Period (1603 -1867), lots of wealthy merchants came out of Matsuzaka. They sold Matsuzaka momen (Matsuzaka cotton) in Edo (what is now Tokyo), because it was very fashionable as a kimono material. The Matsuzaka Merchant Hall was a mansion built at the end of the 17th century by one of these wealthy merchants. You can actually go inside the rooms to look round, and feel the size and nobility of the construction. In the storehouse behind the rooms is a manryo-bako - a box of 10,000 coins. Most such coin boxes were called senryo-bako - boxes of 1,000 coins - so you can imagine the prosperity of the age.

Now we are going to walk to the remains of Matsuzaka Castle along Ote-dori Avenue, a road lined with shops and the town hall. The side roads branching off Ote-dori Avenue still have the old look of a castle town. Matsuzaka Castle was built in 1588, and is said at one time to have been an impregnable castle with a three-tier castle tower. Now however, only the stone walls remain. Cherry trees, wisteria and other seasonal plants grow in the remains, and it has become a place for the townspeople to come and relax. You can see the whole of Matsuzaka from here. The park also contains a museum of history and ethnography, as well as the Moto'ori Norinaga Memorial Hall, which commemorates that Edo-period scholar of classical Japanese.

To the east of Matsuzaka Castle Remains is a part of town called Gojoban-yashiki - "Castle Mansions" - which survives to this day. The samurai mansions and walls arranged neatly along the stone paved roads remind one of olden times. These castle mansions were built in 1863 as houses for the samurai who guarded the castle. The children and grandchildren of those samurai still live in these mansions, but one of them has been borrowed by the town of Matsuzaka, and is open to the public.

We have been walking all over the place, so I expect you're hungry now. Because you've come all the way to Matsuzaka, let's eat some Matsuzaka beef. There are very strict definitions for the bloodline and production area of Matsuzaka beef, and it is prized as high quality Japanese marbled beef. The cattle are supposed to be fed beer and given massages. Around the railway station and in the shopping center called Yoiho Mall, there are lots of specialty restaurants that serve dishes like sukiyaki and steak. Even though these are specialist restaurants, there are also reasonably priced restaurants where everyone can eat, as well as long-standing high-class establishments. I had a 1,500-yen sukiyaki set meal, and even at that price it tasted really good.

As well as having lots of places to visit, Ise and Shima are also very attractive because of their mild climate and specialty foods.