..................................................................................................... matsuyama hostel matsuyama guesthouse matsuyama backpackers Dogo Onsen hotel shikoku hostel .........................................................................................

Mar 23rd, 2017

While the spring festival was happening in Dogo, we had a nabe party in the guesthouse. It was the perfect opportunity for our foreign guests to discover this great Japanese dish! Symbol of family, friends or colleagues gathering in Japan, you won’t find it in any restaurant.

For those who don’t know, nabe is a kind of hot-pot cooking where you put meat, fish, vegetables and even noodles in one big pot with a soup – although the combination of ingredients differs from one region or family to another. After it has simmered for a while, everyone takes small portions in their own bowls and eats it, usually along with sake.

In that way, all of us nabe lovers and neophytes were glad to share this moment, talking about our own cultures from Singapore, the United States, Australia, Sweden, Quebec, France, New Zealand and, of course, Japan. Celebrating cross-border meetings of world travelers because that’s what a guesthouse is all about! It was definitely an enjoyable moment and I wish we could do it more often even if, as spring comes, the winter season of hot-pot cooking is over…

(Hi! My name is Tiphaine and I’m a 22-year-old girl from France. I’m currently travelling for one year in Japan and I’m staying at Sen Guesthouse for 1.5 months, doing volunteering in beautiful Matsuyama. One of my passions in life is writing and I would be happy to share any stories about what’s happening in Matsuyama and in the guesthouse for travelers passing by or former guests who want to follow the news. I hope you will all like it and that I will make you want to discover this awesome place!)

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July 4

Thanks for contacting us a lot for our helper staff a few months ago..  this is new advertisement!

We are looking for someone to help us at Sen Guesthouse! Ideally, it would be someone who could make a month minimum commitment.

From beginning- middle of August as long as possible
*Starting date and term is flexible, please feel free to ask.

Help us out with basic cleaning, or something else such as a food party or events, reception work (if you speak Japanese) etc.
6 days a week (2-3 hours per day) in exchange for free boarding in a staff room.

Great opportunity to live in an interesting area, in an international guesthouse, to focus on either learning Japanese language, or culture, without spending tons of money.

If interested, please contact us at: 089-961-1513 or info@senguesthouse-matsuyama.com. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!

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We are looking for someone to help us at Sen Guesthouse! Ideally, it would be someone who could make a month minimum commitment.

1. around May 10- June 12
2. from June 27, as long as possible
*Starting date and term is flexible, please feel free to ask.

Help us out with basic cleaning, or something else such as a food party or events etc. 6 days a week (2-3 hours per day)
in exchange for free boarding in a staff room.

Great opportunity to live in an interesting area, in an international guesthouse, to focus on either learning Japanese language, or culture, without spending tons of money.

If interested, please contact us at: 089-961-1513 or info@senguesthouse-matsuyama.com. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!

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Date: Everyday, 7:30-8:30/ 16:00-17:00
Booking required. Please contact us the day before if you want to join. Maximum 3 people
Fee: Donation
Place: The rooftop of Sen Guesthouse

About Liz: Our lovely helper staff who stayed last year and came back again! She does yoga every day and has a 200 hours teacher certification from Yoga Alliance.

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We are having a Yoga, music, breathing workshop on Saturday, September 5th, Sunday, September 6th. Should be amazing, book now to participate in 1 or all 3 events and to secure a room.

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New Zealand is not real  (cont.)

The ferry from Wellington to Picton was by far, the nicest ferry I have ever been on- live music, microbrew (obsessed), nice food, crazy views from multiple rooms.  The scenery was also spectacular traveling through the various sounds and cliffs.  After changing to a bus, we ended up Nelson mid-day and checked into, what was later decided, our favorite guesthouse on the trip, Tramper’s rest.

Nelson, NZ’s second oldest city, is a both a quaint colonial town and the springboard for adventure tourism AND New Zealand’s micro brew capital.  Out of all the places we went to in New Zealand, I would most like to move to Nelson- it really does have it all.  After a couple really fun days of swimming in creeks, eating amazing food, drinking amazing beer and wine, we headed out to our second proper, and first multi-day, tramp in NZ, Abel Tasman.

We took 3 nights/4 days to walk the 60km trail, which seemed a bit slow at first, but ended up being perfect due to the rain.  Definitely one of the most amazing hikes I’ve ever done.  It is pretty much walking from pristine beach, to pristine beach separated by cliffs and small hills, intersected by beautiful rivers and waterfalls, through rain and cloud forest- yeah, like that.  We camped the whole way and we were able to collect clams/mussels for most of our evening meals.  It did rain the last 2 days pretty much non-stop, but instead of being an annoyance, it really only added to the adventure and the mystique of the place.

As wonderful as it was, it was very nice to get back to Tramper’s rest in Nelson, have a great pizza and a fabulous beer in the church turned pub, (and my favorite watering hole in NZ) the free house.  The next morning, it wasn’t easy, but we dragged ourselves to the rental car company, got our new ride, and headed towards Takaka and Golden Bay.

Golden Bay is a gorgeous bay with a series of stunning beaches with the cool little hippy town of Takaka.  We only spent 1 night there, but were able to visit one of the most dramatic beaches that we saw on the trip, Wharariki Beach at the base of Farewell Spit.  Not only were there seal pups and a baby penguin, the rock around there is highly erodible so there are also of these amazing rock formations and caves scattered about.  It was also very very windy so the sand and the water were sort of dancing around each other in these vibrant streams- almost psychedelic.

The next day we started off pretty early and headed south towards Nelson lakes national park.  Again, we only had 1 night there so we didn’t really have time to do a proper trek like we would have wanted to, but because of all of the rain, it ended up being a truly memorable evening.  The drive itself was quite interesting, down very rural roads, along forests and farmland.  Pulling up to the DOC office in Nelson lakes around 4pm, it was already starting to rain and quite cold.  We knew we had (after a 20 min drive to the trail head) about a 2 1/2 to 3 hour hike to our hut, so we hightailed it to the parking spot.


The fog quickly rolled in and the freezing rain really started going; it was a complete “white out” so though we knew were walking in a high alpine area, with a supposedly cool view, we really couldn’t get a grasp of where we were.  As you can imagine, we were very happy on arriving at our hut- freezing and wet but in one piece.  While we were figuring out the old-school wood burning stove and beginning to prepare dinner there was a break in the clouds and BAM the view showed itself.  Breathtaking is an understatement; almost 360 degree views of these huge, beautiful lakes from maybe 1000 meters above them at sunset time, so the clouds were alive with these awesome colors also.

It was our first (and last) experience with one of the DOC huts and we were not disappointed; it was warm, well equipped and we had it to ourselves.  The hike down the next day, was perfect.  Beautiful blue sky and we just had “the view” the whole way back to the car.  We will be back to do a multi-day trek in Nelson Lakes for sure.

Our next destination was the rugged “west coast”, specifically Punakaiki.  As opposed to Golden Bay and Abel Tasman, the west coast beaches are lashed by huge waves, imposing cliffs and unswimable scary looking beaches.  The rain forest there was impressive and we were able to visit some interesting features (caves, weird rocks and an ocean blowhole) after checking into our guesthouse.

The next morning we took a great 3 hour hike along a dense river embankment returning via another river valley; a running theme of this trip is deservedly the variety that everyday brought us.


From the west coast, we headed towards Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass.  Back to high alpine, Arthur’s Pass National Park is studded with trails, snow (even in summer) and some stunning views overlooking a series of valleys.  We didn’t do it justice at all, and we really only stopped for an hour (we’ll be back).

Continuing on we randomly came across an interesting looking area with quite a few cars parked, so we decided to take a little break and a gander, and discovered the lunar landscape of Castle Hill.After a couple hours of tramping over unique limestone outcroppings, bridges and maze-like corridors of stone, we walked back to the car and knocked out the last couple of hours to Christchurch.



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New Zealand is not Real!

Well, physically it exists, but at times it takes a bit of convincing to believe that what you are looking at is indeed a tangible place.  Since all things Peter Jackson and LOTR, a lot of attention has been played to this formally little visited island nation 2000 kms east of Australia; and the tourists have indeed come.


For us, it all started in Auckland, where we were able to meet up with some former guests of ours, Will and Soph.  Pretty much straight off the plane, they took us to this beautiful lake, down a stream path, surround by lush forest and sand dunes; an amazing introduction.  That night had an amazing microbrew (a daily tradition) and fish burger at the food mecca known as Ponsby.  Auckland was a sort of mix between Austin TX and SF; strangely cosmopolitan yet unpretentious- not sure if Austin is still unpretentious but…  The next day, we hit an island off the coast of Auckland, Waiheke, where we hiked, visited a winery and had a good good swim on a beautiful beach.  I’m going to throw the word beautiful around a lot here, that is because 1) too lazy to really hit the thesaurus as much as I should 2) NZ is just such a beautiful place.

Picking up our rental car, we headed north the next day to meet some of the most influential people in Nori’s life- Paul, Carol and Maddie in Whangarei.  When Nori was on her year working holiday trip in New Zealand, some years back, she nannied for this lovely family for 3 months.  After some amazing food, a couple days swimming on beaches, tramping in caves and playing a random round of tennis, we headed north with Paul to the elusive 90 mile beach.  An 80 kilometer “sandbar” spit jutting out from the northern most tip of the North Island, the 90 mile beach is about as otherworldly as you can imagine.  We had a great camping spot with Paul’s other daughter and a bunch of their friends, who were all very interesting and very hospitable.  At night, the sky was filled with stars- the days, with crazy drives, sand boarding and swimming on, yes, beautiful beaches.


Continuing on our adventure, we headed south, visiting some amazing kauri trees, a cool car ferry and did a private tour through a cave with glow worms.  The cave itself was quite impressive; huge rooms, massive stalactites/stalagmites, some crawling and wading required, but the truly remarkable aspect about the cave were those glow worms.  Once you turned off your head lamps, the walls and ceilings of the cave became alive with this ominous green glow.  At one point on the journey there were so many glow worms that we were able to navigate the cave using just the glow from the worms.


That night, we ended our day at the beginning of our first “real” hike in New Zealand; the Tongariro crossing.  We thought that the campsite that we booked was next to the parking lot at the trail head, so arriving there at 7:30 pm with steak and wine in hand we were shocked to find that it was a full 3 kilometers away.  Of course, everything worked out fine, but we had to hike in (and out the next morning) all of our junk.  The campsite itself was spectacularly located in sort of a high alpine, desert landscape and that night had one of the most beautiful sunsets of the trip.




The Tongariro crossing is (according to some random website):


New Zealand’s oldest national park and a dual World Heritage Site. The Tongariro National Park is rich in both cultural identity and dramatic, awe-inspiring natural scenery. Unique landforms, including the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe -of LOTR Fame, Tongariro and Ruapehu ensure the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered a world-renowned trek.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing (20km) is heralded as the best one-day trek available in New Zealand, while others say it ranks among the top ten single-day treks in the world.


It was amazing, and hardcore, being that we added an extra 3 km in the morning, then decided to summit Mt. Tongariro, an extra 6km.  That night, we treated ourselves to a guesthouse in Turangi, after camping 4 nights is a row and we made some SICK mussel pasta- all washed down with some delicious NZ Pinot gris- could write a full blog just about the lovely wine we drank (but won’t).


Next morning, we dragged our sore selves out of bed, had an amazing swim in Lake Taupo, and headed for Napier, another important place in Nori’s 1 year stint in New Zealand.  The Art Deco capital of New Zealand, Napier is a sleepy, well preserved city surround by some of the best wineries in the North Island- Hawkes Bay.  Like any self respecting wine drinker, we spent a full day hitting some of those said wineries, eating delicious food, and just sort of strolling around the quaint little town of Napier- plus, we stayed 2 nights in the youth hostel that Noriko worked at and got an amazing room overlooking the beach!


We pretty much spent the next day driving from Napier down to Wellington, well right north of it to a holiday park, one of many that we stayed at during our trip.  Wellington was an unexpected surprise.  Really cool cafes, good selection of micro brew, great public art, the best museum that we visited in New Zealand and a really interesting wharf area.  We met up with a couple that recently moved back to Wellington from Matsuyama; so was great to meet up with them.  Unfortunately, the guesthouse we stayed in Wellington was not as cool as the city.  The next morning, bright and early we bussed down to the ferry terminal to grab a (you guessed it) a ferry to the South Island.












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June 21st, 2014

Returning to south west Europe for us is never hard.  Not sure if it is the richness of the food, the onslaught of the ridiculously cheap wine, the beautiful landscapes or the ancientness of it’s villages, but it’s fast becoming a tradition of ours to spend our June walking a portion of the Camino de Santiago in this corner of the world.  This June was no different as we set out on the Camino Portuguese to both spread the good word of Ohenro and to get a little bit of pilgrimage in us ourselves.  360km, 12 full days of walking, whining wineing  to the western most tip of continental Europe, Finisterre.

We had 1 night each in Lisboa and Porto before starting the walk, which is a damn shame, because both cities deserve so much more time.  For Lisboa, it was our first meal which won us over- just amazing seafood at this crazy hectic restaurant recommended by a couple of our best guests.

Of course the city too is really beautiful.

After an afternoon and following morning of exploring, we headed out on the train to Porto.  It’s hard to describe just how evocative this city is- and as these things go, the pictures don’t really help much either.  It has this medieval core straddling this beautiful river longed used as the main transport hub of the city’s most famous export, port wine.  Again, just didn’t have time to do it justice but got enough to KNOW we will go back someday.

After picking up our credentials at the cathedral in Porto, we headed out, via the beach for the 1st couple of days, which ended up being a pretty brutal slog along the coast and non-stop rain.  Sort of a weird start; no arrows, almost no other pilgrims- we saw 2 others, mainly walking along hammered boardwalks and newer buildings.  We later talked to a Portuguese women on the last days of our pilgrimage to Finisterre who told us about the massive waves, and destruction that the north coast of Portugal received last winter.  If you remember, the biggest wave ever ridden was last winter on this very coast.

We finally starting getting our grove, and into the pilgrimage when we cut inland from Vila do Conde.  We starting walking through some beautiful country side and some amazing little villages-all the while staying at some of the best albuergues on the camino.

We both really like Portugal, Noriko especially like the food- less rich than Spanish food with possibly a more nuanced flavor.  Walking in Portugal was really quite interesting, and crossing over the border from Valenca (Portugal) to Tui (Spain), one can sense an immediate difference.  It’s almost as if there is a layer of development, infrastructure and wealth that Spain has that Portugal is missing.  Portuguese people are great, quick to say hello and smile; all with a humble quality to them.  

One of the highlights for us, was the fortaleza (fortress) area of Valenca.  It is another world filled with bulwarks, towers, massive walls, tiny winding alley ways, churches and great places to sit and watch the sunset (with a bottle of vinho verde) with a surly Irish man that happens to be walking/riding the pilgrimage at the same times as us.

Crossing into Spain, well, Galicia, was pretty dramatic-the towns are much more substantial, the people are definitely busier with more attitude and the camino starts to have more people.  Of course, no where near the amount of people that we encountered on the Camino Frances last year, but still more.  It also started warming up significantly and we started putting in some long days.  I certainly felt like I was back in my element; speaking very broken Spanish, eating chorizo like I had a tapeworm (I didn’t) and bathing in wine.  Nori’s obsession was Pulpo Gallego (Galician style Octopus) the whole time we were in Galicia-rightfully so, pretty delicious.

It was a bit surreal to return to Santiago, especially from the south this time- actually a much better approach than the Camino Frances; way less urban and offering some nice views.  As opposed to our past caminos, we didn’t see anyone that we walked with, at all, we didn’t do the mass and we really just treated it like another stage of the pilgrimage.  Because we knew we were headed for Finisterre this time, it didn’t feel like the destination, just another beautiful city on the camino, albeit with many many tourists, both walkers and non.

The Camino Finisterre was really wonderful, neither of us had much of an idea what it would be like and we didn’t have a guide book.  Of course, as these things do, it worked out perfectly- we had one morning without our requisite cafe con leche but…was a small price to pay for the freedom and spontaneity of not carrying a guide.  Definitely gorgeous Galician trails through moss covered walls, stone hamlets, amazing food/wine but the nail in the coffin were the sick views of the coast from the tops of the mountains.  Of course, that first view of cabo Fisterre is something I’ll never forget.

One thing we were particularly blown away by was how beautiful the water and beaches were in and around Finisterre…it really was like Thailand or the Caribbean.  Soft, pure white sound, multi-shaded turquoise water were definitely an inviting site on our approach to the (previously, errounously  thought of) end of the world.

After getting a cheap room and a little nap in, we hit the port for pulpo and paella.  It was a great way to end the day and the pilgrimage.  That evening, we (along with about 50 other pilgrims) went to light house that is at the western most tip of Europe, about 3.5km from town, to watch the sunset.

Easy to get superlative about the moment, but it was one of those times in life where you are just mindful of the moment, grateful to be there, witnessing something important.  It really added a component of  “finishing” to the pilgrimage also that I haven’t felt before on my other pilgrimages.  I find something lacking when arriving at Santiago; it’s a great city, it’s dramatic, you get to meet up and hug some of the people that you met along the way, but, it all feels a bit rushed, as if you skipped the last part of a great film.  Walking the 3 days to Finisterre not only gives you time to reflect on your walk, the things you have brooded over, the places and people you have met, it also gives you the ultimate closure in the form of that sunset.

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May, 14th, 2014

Repeater guest, Kochi stalwart and all around good guy, Bear, hosted a really great live event at the guesthouse last weekend, May 10th.  His collection of ceramics really blew everyone away and he ended up selling quite a few pieces.  We also had the  awesome deal where if you bought a cup, you received a 15% discount on all drinks for the night-as you would expect, many people took us up on the offer.


There was also a group project aspect to the evening.  Bear brought a bunch of uncooked, soft tiles for the guests to mold, sculpt, engrave and decorate as they see fit.  There were all sorts of scalpels, knives, stamps and other implements to help shape the tiles.

It was really fun and a great way for everyone to interact with both the clay and each other and some of them came out really really good.  He took them all back home with him and he is going to glaze and fire them then send them back to us in one large piece which we will then display in the guesthouse.


In addition to all the pottery goodness, there was a revolving group of musicians entertaining all of us.  We had Japanese musicians playing original compositions; very unique, very good.

We also had a foreign contingent of Kochi musicians doing it all, from off-color originals to amazing re-imaginings of classics such as Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage”.  Such a good vibe, everyone was completely into it for the whole evening.


It truly was a great evening and one of the smoothest, most entertaining events we have had in the guesthouse.  Bear and his awesome lady Steph are unfortunately leaving after his current contract is over, but we hope to have more events similar to this one in the future!

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