And welcome to another excerpt of last summer’s mileage run. The series has been published in chronological order in French (click here if you are keen to read them). In English, only selected flights will appear, and at an arbitrary pace. Thus far, two segments are already available.
Today’s story brings us back to the very first leg of this estival odyssey. A flight to Tokyo from Matsuyama, on our way to Naha (Okinawa).
LET’S GET CLOSER
Our day starts early in the morning, with a train ride to JR Matsuyama station. From here, there are several options to reach the airport.
Unless you are a group of four travelling very light and in a serious rush, you may avoid taxis, since public transportation abounds, is fast, reliable, cheaper and friendlier. Limousine Buses are a common feature in many Japanese airports, providing shuttle services to major locations downtown. In Matsuyama, bus timetables are coordinated with flight schedules. Regular line buses also connect the station with the airport, using a little bit more time and requesting a little less money. But pandemic related disruptions meant that Limousine Bus services were altered. And bus number 53 made its appearance barely seconds after I reached the bus stop. Be it city bus this time!
In less than 15 minutes, and after a smooth ride, we reached the terminal building. As it is customary in Japanese public buses, the fee depends on how far you have ridden and payment is done when alighting. The city of Matsuyama refusing to modernize its system, cash is the way to go here (no cards accepted, except a rare IC local one).
Scents of travel linger in the air……
Ehime is renown for its citrus fruits. Orange and amber tones permeate public spaces all around the prefecture. And the airport is not an exception. Obviously, the local mascot, christened Mikkyan, takes the shape of a mandarine.
‘Welcome to the kingdom of mandarins and oranges!’, where fresh juice comes out from taps and runs ceaselessly.
MYJ is a medium-size airport well connected to major domestic cities (Tokyo, Osaka & Nagoya). Prior to the pandemic it was among the 15 most transited airports in Japan and had 3 international connections: South Korea (ICN), Taiwan (TPE) & China (PVG). Evidently, since March 2020 the context has evolved.
The north sector of the terminal was dedicated to overseas connections.
But the lack of air traffic means there is no need for escalators or stairs right now. We are told so, apologizing for the inconveniences, in a typical Japanese style. (Someone decided there was no need to transmit this information in a distinct language, despite this being internationally related… )
Let’s move to the domestic section
Floor plan of the ensemble. Lower levels are dedicated to check-in counters and arrivals. Mid-way one can find souvenir shops, restaurants and boarding gates. High up, unobstructed views and a small lounge. The ‘League of Languages’ is clearly dominated by Asian teams: 4-1.
Them, they belong to the Evil Empire 😊
As you can see, the terminal is bright and crowds are not part of the airport landscape today.
Our flight has been delayed 10 min and the weather in Tokyo is not very welcoming. Today there are more JAL flights cancelled than expected to operate. And connecting with Osaka seems out of the question… (we won’t be going to Paris, despite what one might conclude from what is shown on the screen…)
This brief delay allows us to enjoy the best space in the whole terminal (imho).
We are not the only ones here. But it is not an extremely popular place among my fellow passengers or airport visitors.
Vassals of Darth Vader are getting ready to fly to Tokyo in an EU made vessel. They will get there 40 min before us.
Their aides are on the brink of taking-off for Osaka.
Here comes our ronin to rescue us, freshly landed from Tokyo.
Advancing smoothly so that he goes unnoticed.
And he remains so, indeed.
A short refuelling awaits.
Would 35 min be enough to fill the tank and regain strength to pursue the air battle?
Let’s check it out.
Waiting times for security checks won’t be very long, I presume.
OKA -southern fringes of the Japanese archipelago- and CTS -its northern opposite- will sustain visits by the Imperial forces later on the day. We prefer to be faithful to the rebellion and make a transfer in HND to reach our final destination.
getting even closer (+the airport)
It took us no more than 30 seconds to cross the security check.
Some might associate Japan to images of forbearance and quietness, but there is a wild side in here, as well. (Isaniwa 伊佐爾波神社and Yu 湯神社 Shrines Autumn Festival @ Dogo Hot Springs, Matsuyama).
Gate A (or Gate 2) for us today. Only 14 minutes to the scheduled departure time but stillness abounds in the surroundings.
Unfortunately, I have never had the privilege to trespass the threshold separating mortals and THE CHOSEN ones (aviation-wise).
Forces of the Empire provide a complete measuring station in which to check the validity of carry-on luggage. Very appropriately, imperial units are also displayed!
Take-off time minus 8 minutes and we begin to see some movement. The ground staff is accommodating and efficient (as is the norm in Japan).
Zashhhh! A happy combination of electronic gates, discipline and low occupancy allowed us to complete boarding in the blink of an eye.
Amber tones accompany visitors and residents until the very last seconds on Ehime soil.
Pre-boarding popular tryptic (of doors) among reporters of this site.
8 years old (at the time of flying) metal tube, bringing us into the air -crowned by a wifi receiver-.
We can safely advance to the central grounds (once the tarmac has been cleared of all Imperial troops).
Overall view of the terminal
Despite not being really acquainted with, someone is wishing us a safe journey.
Heading towards the sea
And we’re climbing !
A beautiful scene depicting the Matsuyama plain and the Iyo Bay 伊予灘 (with the Shigenobu River mouth on the left side of the picture).
We go round and round. And the city of Matsuyama comes to our sight.
To the north of the airport the harbour of Mitsuhama 三津浜, where the Lord of Matsuyama Castle gathered his fleet and commenced his ‘political pilgrimage’ to Edo (nowadays Tokyo). This was a several weeks adventure under normal weather conditions, crossing the Seto Inland Sea and alighting somewhere in Harima province 播磨國 (a former feudal domain, ruled from Himeji Castle). From there, the journey continued on foot, along the Tokaido (or the Nakasendo) roads. Our trip today will be shorter.
If there was no engine in this picture, you would be able to spot Mukaibara Station 向井原駅 (luckily enough for us that view is hidden from you 😊). This is where the JR Yosan Line splits between its mountain (Uchiko, 内子) branch and its sea (Nagahama, 長浜) branch. The latter offers spectacular views of the sea and unforgettable sunsets.
We now fly over the narrow Sare valley 佐礼谷, a typical rural enclave in Shikoku. In a neighbouring valley, Mr Fukuoka Masanobu started his crusade against chemical fertilizers and for an agriculture in communion with nature and spirits. (Shizen Noho 自然農法)
I guess it is going to be difficult to pursue today’s lecture on Japanese history & geography.
This will be the sole picture of the cabin interior today. Upfront there is a Class J section (2+3 config). Economy consists of a typical 3+3 combination. The pitch is good. No individual screens but there is (free) wi-fi connection.
The weather hasn’t really improved.
Even closer to the ground, the sights continue to be blocked.
This may be Haneda. Or it may be not. The fog and the rain do not really make it any easier to decide.
Just landed, but still undecided, whether we made the right calling or not.
At least, we are among our peers.
It is reassuring to see so many of our own.
Apparently, we didn’t get it wrong. This is HND!
We bid farewell to our aircraft.
At HND all passengers -departing & arriving- share the same corridors. Work-station stools, plenty of chairs and charging points, vending machines (filled with refreshments) and even payphones accepting coins (or phone cards that can only be bought with cash in nearby dispensers). All you need to wrap up job or leisure-related mails or calls before or after your flights. (Ah! Forgot to mention that there is wi-fi too. And it works just fine!)
Having landed from Shikoku, our plane has been parked, as usual, in the southern end of the terminal. Long corridors ahead of us until we reach the exit. (We will be visiting friends during our short layover). There are moving walkways for those in a rush. As the image illustrates, I have never seen JAL staff using them (unless they are escorting a passenger with disabilities).
The way out. (On the left side of the picture, you can see the carry-on luggage collecting area, for security-check approved departing passengers).
Escalator, for the lazy ones.
Stairs for those not that lazy.
We can proceed directly to the exit, sidestepping the baggage claim since we are travelling light and there is a corridor leading directly to the arrival hall. The display of information is outstanding in this area.
And not only in Japanese. All these comprehensive pieces of information are also provided in Korean, English and Chinese. Very useful for those waiting for arrival passengers.
This marks the end of my flight report. Thank you for having read this far.
You may pursue the adventure in the section below, by –virtually- exploring lesser visited areas of Japan. In today’s case, little towns close to the departure city of this report show their charms in a set of beautiful pictures.
Bonus : Cliquez pour afficher masquer
Some 40 miles south of Matsuyama, a tiny bourg called Ozu attained hints of cultural sophistication during the onset of 20th century, thanks to a thriving silk, wax and timber industry. Entrepreneurs built new residences and emigres conceived summer retreats. Fortunately, pieces of such remarkable architecture have been preserved till this day.
The Matsui brothers made fortune in the Philippines as shopkeepers. Soon after they decided to buy a plot of land in their hometown and built a villa (Bansenso 盤泉荘) to spend their holidays. Verandas and tropical wood is combined with lacquered beams and tea pavilions in a refreshing blend of colonial and Modern Japanese styles.
The Matsui's living quarters. 旧松井家住宅
Wax industrialist turned into pioneer banker Murakami Chojiro 村上長次郎, had his personal -& elegant- living quarters built next to the wax production grounds. Part of this area has been recently rehabilitated and occupied by shops and a scattered hotel.
Murakami's living quarters. 旧村上家住宅
Afficher la suite
Matsuyama - MYJ
Tokyo - HND
We are dealing here with a domestic flight in Japan. Which consistently amounts to efficiency and frugality.
This was the case also for this flight. We had a delay of 10 minutes at departure, and it was duly announced. In the end, it did not impact our arrival schedule (on time).
Staff was extremely accommodating all over the trip. Our plane was well entertained and offered a good pitch. Inflight service was very limited (although a substantial inflight shopping was available). Airports were clean (they always are), stocked with shops and services (gorgeous observation decks) and well connected with public transport, although lacking a wow factor.
Overall, this was a perfect no-frills flight.
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