There were a few things, mostly personal things that you don't find in tourist guides. Things I'd noticed in passing at the time and had slowly grown into obsessions since then.
Two of these things related to small forests. One was in Yasugi: I'd stopped off here in 2012 on my way to the Adachi Art Museum and taken a photo of a tree-covered hill with a red torii visible through a break in the trees.
The photo I took in 2012
The other was actually in Matsue itself. A tree-topped hill that seemed to rise and fall out of the suburbs for no reason.
View of the hill, as seen from near the Shimane Art Museum
I had noticed it the first time I came to Matsue, but never got round to exploring it. This time, I was determined to solve the mystery of both of these places.
There was also the small issue of a Lantern Festival I wanted to see, as well as revisiting old haunts.
On my way to the hill in Yasugi, called Togamiyama Nagisa Park, I walked past this crazy beautiful house build in the style of a Japanese castle. But slightly ramshackle, and not quite right. But it was so amazing to look at, I can totally believe this was intentional.
And the park itself was quite an adventure. Especially if you hate spiders.
Plenty of these
The spiders would build their webs across the path, giving any walker the choice of ducking under them or brushing them aside. And, frankly, brushing them aside wasn't really an option. These weren't dry, wispy cobwebs I was used to, but they were strong, sticky and broke with an almost audible snap. I decided to avoid them as much as possible.
Found this on the hill
Not sure what this used to be
Success! A five year old mystery solved!
The hill in Matsue can be access through the back of the temple Enjou-ji. It's pretty small, but still full of spiders and mosquitoes and I got bitten quite a lot during this walk. I think it was worth it, though.
I saw a lot of these stone lanterns with these strips of paper attached to them
Not sure what they are.
Found an old cemetery
The Lantern Festival, held around the grounds of Matsue Castle, was very pretty.
Not only that, I also enjoyed revisiting places to see if they'd changed.
They still haven't cleaned this mirror
I also went to Suito restaurant, where I'd been on my previous two trips here and I was very pleased when they recognised me. I also went to Dorobou Bar, where I went on my first time in Matsue. The bartender who'd served me was still there. In fact, she was now the manager. She didn't remember me, though people tried. I don't know who “James” was, but he must have made an impression, since two people asked me if I was him.
Someone brought in grapefruit and shared it round, which was nice of him. And I even sung a song on the karaoke, after a lot of drunken persuasion from a salaryman. I chose Kaze Wo Atsumete, since it's the Japanese song I know most words to. People either ignored me or were politely appreciative.
Actually, I had arranged this trip with the idea that this'd be my last journey to Matsue, but I had so much fun (and I still haven't gone to Yaegaki Shrine) that I guess I'll go at least once more.