Translated by Allie
Visit The World Of "Botchan" - Matsuyama City In Ehime
Soseki Natsume is regarded as one of the founders of Japanese modern literature. "Botchan", which is one of his representative works, was written based on his experiences when he was sent to Matsuyama Middle School for a year.
Written by LIFE STYLE, Inc.
The Meiji period (1868-1912) writer Soseki Natsume is one of the best-known Japanese authors. He is well-known not only because he is one of the founders of modern Japanese literature, but also for the fact that his portrait used to be on the 1000 yen note that was in circulation until 2007.
One of Soseki Natsume's most famous works is the novel "Botchan".
The unique cast of characters in this novel, including Botchan ("young master"), Yama Arashi ("mountain storm"), Madonna, Uranari ("unripe calabash"), Aka Shatsu ("red shirt") and Nodaiko ("field radish") leave quite the impression on readers. It is a valuable novel that teaches about the morals of the Meiji period in Japan.
This novel has been adapted into films and dramas many times over, and the version starring Kazunari Ninomiya filmed in 2016 became very popular.
The story of Botchan was based on the experiences Soseki Natsume had when he was assigned to work at Matsuyama Middle School (now Ehime Matsuyama Higashi High School) for a year. Therefore, the places which existed in Matsuyama city at that time appear frequently in this story. For example, the hot spring resort in Sumita in the novel is present-day Dogo onsen, while the house that the main characters lived in was based on the house that Soseki Natsume actually lived in at that time, which is now an antique store near a branch of the Prefectural Museum of Art.
Through Google Street View, we will take a stroll through the world of Botchan in Matsuyama city.
The Main Stage of Botchan: the School
When speaking of the book "Botchan", you simply have to mention the school, as this was the main setting of the novel. According to most travel guides, Matsuyama Middle School was based on what is now the Ehime Prefectural Matsuyama Higashi High School.
The above image is of the area around Ehime Prefectural Matsuyama Higashi High School. By moving your cursor over the image, you can take a virtual walk through the surroundings.
Matsuyama Higashi High School is known as one of the best high school in Ehime, and has a great number of students who go on to attend university. Many famous authors, such as Kenzaburo Oe, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Kyoshi Takahama and Masaoka Shiki graduated from this high school.
By the way, the building you see on the screen is not the actual school building that Soseki Natsume was dispatched to, as the story of Botchan was written before Matsuyama Middle School was moved to its current location. Matsuyama Middle School was located near the current Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corporation (NTT West in short), Ehime Branch.
This is Matsuyama Shinonome Junior and Senior High School where Madonna went.
Madonna, one of the main characters of Botchan, was modeled after Sute Toda, who was a student of Matsuyama Shinonome junior and senior high school at that time. She was very intelligent as well as beautiful; she even made a congratulatory speech on behalf of her fellow students during the opening ceremonies of the school upon its first founding anniversary.
Many Facilities Named After "Botchan" Within Matsuyama
There are many facilities with the name Botchan found in Matsuyama city. However, these facilities are not always related to the novel by Soseki Natsume.
For example, the train pictured in the photo above is the Botchan train, which is modeled after an actual steam locomotive that was in operation at the time the novel was written, and is still in operation now.
1. Botchan Square
This is Botchan Square. Within Matsuyama city, two Botchan squares are found. The one you see in the picture is located in front of Matsuyama City Station of the Iyo Railway.
The other Botchan square is located in Dogo. In order not to be mixed up, the one in Dogo is called Dogo Botchan Square. Dogo Botchan Square is a wide space near the Dogo Onsen main building which you may have seen on travel guides.
In front of the Dogo Onsen main building, the model of a rickshaw - the major means of transport in Meiji period - is exhibited.
Can you find the store, Ichiroku Tart in the Google Street View screen? At this shop, you can find local sweets packed in a box featuring illustrations of the main characters from Botchan, known as "Botchan and his Funny Friends". Doesn't that sound like it would make a great souvenir for your friends?
Ichiroku Co.,Ltd. Dogo Store
Address: Ehime, Matsuyama city, Dohoyunomachi 20-15
Phone number: +81-03-6861-7954
Official Website: Ichiroku Co.,Ltd. Dogo Store (Japanese only)
2. Botchan Stadium
The next one location is Botchan Stadium, where baseball games between both professional and amateur leagues are held.
Botchan Stadium is a baseball field that utilizes a universal design which allows people to move from the infield to the outfield easily. It is located within Matsuyama Central Park. It's adjoined to another baseball field, the Madonna Stadium, which is a sub-baseball field.
Address: Ehime, Matsuyama city, Ichitsubonishimachi 625-1
Phone number: +81-03-6861-7954
Official Website: Botchan Stadium
3. Botchan Theater
At last, we would like to introduce the Botchan Theater, which was open in 2006 as a central place where the regional culture of Matsuyama could be displayed. It is the first center of its kind in western Japan. At this building, you can see the signs for Botchan Theater by using street view.
In the Botchan Theater, plays featuring themes on Ehime, the Shikoku region and Setouchi area are performed. In 2016, to celebrate their 10th anniversary, a performance of "Ohenrosan Dozo" (Welcome, Pilgrim), which is the story of a group of young people and four ghosts who became friends during their pilgrimage to the holy sites of Shikoku, was held.
Address: Ehime, Toon city, Minara 1125
Phone number: +81-03-6861-7954
Official Website: Botchan Theater (Japanese Only)
Matsuyama city in Ehime is not only the main city of Shikoku, but also the setting of the popular Meiji era novel, "Botchan". Within this city and its suburbs, you can still find many traces of that time as well as numerous facilities featuring the name Botchan to this day. We have only introduced a few of them here - the rest is up to you to find. Why not take a trip to this charming area and see more of the places and facilities bearing the name "Botchan" that Matsuyama city has to offer?