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Ehime

Seto Inland Sea, moderate inland sea and islands of various sizes - Towering cliffs, rapids and waterfalls created by dynamic nature
Ehime prefecture is situated in the western part of Shikoku, and has a long coastline that stretches for about 1,300 kilometers. In the eastern part of the prefecture is Ishizuchi Mountains Range with Mt. Ishizuchi as its principal peak. In the north is Takanawa Peninsula, and in the west is Sada-misaki Peninsula which is a narrow and long peninsula that stretches from east to west.

Ehime prefecture is a treasure box of dynamic nature: Seto Inland Sea National Park with islands of various sizes on the moderate inland sea, Omogokei gorge which reveals the beauty and various expressions of the gorge with towering cliffs, waterfalls, and rapids, and Mt. Ishizuchi, West Japan's highest peak, with its magnificent view of its sword-like peak soaring up into the sky. Also, there are quite a number of tourist spots you must visit. They include various cultural assets such as Hogon-ji Temple, an important cultural asset, with Nio-mon, the Deva Gate, which itself is a national treasure; historical sites like Matsuyama Castle and Uwajima Castle; and Dogo-onsen Hot Spring which has Dogo-onsen Hot Spring Honkan (Main Building), a castle-like wooden, three-story building which was the first public bath that was designated important cultural asset.

On Uwajima facing Uwajima Bay and surrounded on three sides by 1,000-meter-class mountains, you can see Uwajima Bull Fights and the event attracts many visitors. The sight of huge cows fighting each other with horns on a 20-meter diameter ring at the Bull Fight Dome is indeed magnificent.

Getting there
About 1 hour 25 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Matsuyama Airport, about 50 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. About 3 hours 20 minutes from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station by JR Tokai-Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 40 minutes form Shin Osaka Station by JR Sanyo Shinkansen LIne. About 3 hours from Okayama Station to Matsuyama Station by JR Seto Ohashi Line,Yosan Line Limited Express.
 

  • Dogo-onsen Hot Spring
    Symbolic of Dogo-onsen Hot Spring, Dogo-onsen Honkan Original Communal Hot Spring Bath House - Japan's oldest hot springs with a history of 3,000 years
    Located in the west of Ehime and in the northeastern part of Matsuyama, Dogo-onsen Hot Spring is Japan's oldest noted spa said to have been opened about 3000 years ago.

    In the center of the hot-spring town where numbers of inns and hotels are clustered, the Dogo-onsen Honkan, a communal bathhouse. The building was erected in 1894 and is the symbol of Dogo today. With the magnificent three-storied castle-styled wooden structure that has been designated to the first important cultural property as public bathhouse in Japan, it boasts its time-honored and dignified appearance amid modern hotels and shops. It has a watchtower called "Shinro-kaku" on the roof, and the sound of the time-telling drum that it beats three times a day, or morning, noon and evening, is reverberated all over the spa town. In the Dogo-onsen Honkan, you can make yourself comfortable in the grand hall or in a private room even in case of only taking bath.

    In the neighborhood of the Dogo-onsen Honkan are historic temples like Ishite-ji and Hogen-ji, cultural institutions and the spa streets lined with souvenir shops. If you take one of the rikishas that appear in front of the Honkan building at dusk, you can enjoy a joyful sightseeing guided by the dashing young rikisha man and taking pictures.

    Getting there
    About 1 hour and 25 minutes to Matsuyama Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport; about 50 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. About 45 minutes from Matsuyama Airport to Dogo-onsen Hot spring by bus. About 3 hours and 20 minutes to Okayama Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokai-Sanyo Shinkansen Line; about 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 3 hours from Okayama Station to Matsuyama Station by JR Seto-ohashi-Yosan Line by limited express. About 20 minutes from Matsuyama Station to Dogo Onsen Hot Spring Station by Iyo Railway train.

     

  • Iyo Ozu
    A castle town in the basin with a flow of the Hiji-kawa River - Attractive traditional events of each season
    Situated in the west of Ehime, Ozu is an old castle town built in the Uchiyama basin that the Hiji-kawa River, one of the great rivers in the prefecture, skirts around in a large curve. With historic spots here and there, such as the site of the Ozu castle and Garyu mountain villa, the city has an appearance that deserves the name of "Little" Kyoto in Iyo(Ehime). The white wall of the Ozu castle reflected in the Hiji-kawa River and Garyu-buchi(deep water), in its upstream, filled with tranquil water have long been known as scenic spots.

    In the Hiji-kawa River is staged the "ukai" (cormorant fishing) from summer through fall. Sitting back on a houseboat alight with torches, you can enjoy, while eating and drinking, a sight of cormorant fishermen in black costume, aboard their fishing boats, skillfully handling their several cormorants to catch ayu(sweet fish). Early fall is marked by "Imo-taki" festival, Ozu's traditional event handed down since the 17th century. On the day of "Imotaki", parties which are held on the dry riverbed, local people gather around a large iron pot and eat "satoimo" (Japanese kind of taro), pieces of dried bean curd, "shiitake" (mushroom), pieces of konjak(jelly-like food made from the starch of devil's tongue), chicken, etc. that are boiled slowly in this pot. From late fall through early spring, you can see the mist, called Hiji-kawa Arashi (storm of Hiji-kawa River), can be seen rising from the surface of the river.

    Getting there
    About 1 hour and 25 minutes to Matsuyama Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport; about 50 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. About 35 minutes from Matsuyama Airport to Matsuyama Station by bus. About 3 hours and 20 minutes to Okayama Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokai-Sanyo Shinkansen Line; about 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka by JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 3 hours and 30 minutes from Okayama Station to Iyo Ozu Station, with a change at Matsuyama Station, by JR Seto-ohashi-Yosan Line Limited Express.

     

  • Matsuyama
    The largest city in Shikoku and the Matsuyama castle town where sight-seeing spots can be toured by jingling trolley cars running in city
    Located in the center of Ehime, Matsuyama is the largest city in Shikoku facing the Iyo-nada (the Sea of Nada) in the Setonai-kai (the Inland Sea of Japan) and a center of administration and economy. The city is also an important point of traffic with railways and bus routes extending from JR Matsuyama Station and Iyo Railway Matsuyama City Station to various places in and outside of the prefecture.

    On the hill in the center of the city stands the Matsuyama castle, the symbol of the town. The castle and its surrounding area as a whole constitute a historic site park. An about 10 minutes' ride on a ropeway and lift takes you up to the mountain's top leveled by cutting off the ridge. From the terminal of the lift, there is an ascent path to the castle and donjon. If you go up the steep wooden stairway to the top floor in the castle tower, you can obtain a panoramic view of all including Mt. Ishizuchi and the Iyo-nada (the Sea of Iyo).

    Convenient for making a round of the sightseeing spots in the city are the trolley cars, nicknamed "ting-ting densha," that run in all directions to serve the citizens of Matsuyama as a daily means of transportation. Having everything that makes you feel peaceful around you, like its orange matchbox style, its wooden-made interior with velvet-covered seats, the driver's uniform and the ting-ting sound as alighting signal, the trolley car gives you a comfortable ride, not to mention the exhilaration that you can get from going right through the middle of a busy street.

    Getting there
    About 1 hour and 25 minutes to Matsuyama Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport; about 50 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. About 35 minutes from Matsuyama Airport to Matsuyama Station by bus. About 3 hours and 20 minutes to Okayama Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokai and Sanyo Shinkansen Line; about 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 3 hours from Okayama Station to Matsuyama Station by JR Seto-ohashi-Yosan Line Limited Express.

     

  • Mt. Ishizuchi-yama
    The image of deity is carried by the believers from the Ishizuchi-jinja - Shrine up to the peak of Mt. Ishizuchi-yama
    Located to the east of Ehime, Mt. Ishizuchi-yama and its surrounding area are designated Ishizuchi Seminational Park. For its sharp and manly rocky mass, the mountain has been long worshiped as a sacred mountain. Since the believers have continued for generations to climb the mountain in proof of their faith, Mt. Ishizuchi-yama is now accessible to all, although the paths are rather rugged up to Mt. Tengu-dake, 1982 meters above sea level, and Mt. Misen where the branch shrine at peak of the Ishizuchi-jinja Shrine stands.

    There are two paths to the top of Mt. Ishizuchi-yama: the Omote Sando (front approach to the shrine) course and the Tsuchi-goya Hut course. The former course is an ordinary path leading to the peak from the front. The latter is the route which allows you to climb easily while enjoying the scenery around. About 30 Minutes' climb along the Ishizuchi Sky Line, a mountain driveway, takes you to the Tsuchi-goya Hut, from where you can enjoy walking along the ridge to the peak. The Ishizuchi Sky Line is a sight-seeing road opened in 1970, and the magnificent sight of Mt. Tengu-dake that suddenly appears when you leave the Mt. Kanmuri-dake tunnel en route is worth seeing.

    Every summer the mountain-climbing for faith by belivers, called "O-yama-biraki" (opening of a mountain to the climbers), takes place. It is a valiant event of the image of deity being carried, from the Ishizuchi Shrine up to the top of Mt. Ishizuchi-yama, on the shoulders of the believers in white. It is however held only on the 1st of July, and the female is not allowed to climb due to the old local practice that still survives.

    Getting there
    About 1 Hour 25 Minutes to Matsuyama Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport, about 50 Minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. About 35 Minutes from Matsuyama Airport to Matsuyama Station by bus. About 3 Hours 20 Minutes to Okayama Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokai and Sanyo Shinkansen Line; about 40 Minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 3 Hours from Okayama Station to Matsuyama Station by JR Seto-ohashi-Yosan Line Limited Express. About 3 Hours from Matsuyama Station to Ishizuchi Tsuchi-goya by making bus connection.

     

  • Shimanami-Kaido
    The bridge linking Shikoku and islands in the Inland Sea with the Honshu - Luxury of enjoying multi-isle beauty of the Inland Sea
    The Seto Western Expressway, also known as the Seto-uchi Shimanami-Kaido (highway above sea), was opened to traffic on May 1, 1999. Located between Onomichi City in Hiroshima and Imabari City in Ehime, it links Mukai-shima, Inno-shima, Ikuchi-jima, Omi-shima, Hakata-jima and O-shima, six islands in all, within the Geiyo Islands situated nearly in the center of the Inland Sea of Japan. The completion of the Shimanami-Kaido has made Ehime more easily accessible from the Honshu and the driving through the islands of the Geiyo Islands possible. The highway also allows passage by cycling and on foot.

    With unique island-to-island bridges, like the Tatara Grand Bridge, the longest askew-arched bridge in the world, and the Kuru-shima Strait Triple -Suspension Type Grand Bridge, the Shimanami-Kaido provides a brand-new scenery in harmony with the insular nature. The capital viewing points that can overlook the bridges over the Inland Sea and dotted islands, are the Hanaguri Seto observation platform on Omi-shima Island and Mt. Hoko-san on Hakata-jima Island. Thanks to the mild climate, there are many flower viewing spots, like Yoshimi-cho Rose Garden where you can see various kinds of roses collected from all parts of the world, Citrus Park Setoda that boasts citrus plants as a main attraction, and Inno-shima Flower Center. Also on the Shimanami-Kaido, there are Yoshiumi Produce Center Iwaki House, Marine Oasis Hakata and local specialty centers, those which give you a shopping pleasure.

    Getting there
    About 1 hour and 25 minutes to Hiroshima Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. About 14 minutes from Hiroshima Airport to Shiraichi Station by bus. About 42 minutes from Shiraichi Station to Onomichi Station by JR Sanyo Main Line. About 4 hours and 30 minutes to Shin-Onomichi Station, with a change at Okayama Station, from Tokyo Station by JR Tokai and Sanyo Shinkansen Line; about 1 hour and 57 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by JR Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 1 hour and 30 minutes to Imabari Station via "Shimanami Kaido" from Onomichi or Shin-Onomichi Station by JR bus.

     

  • Uchiko
    One-time industrial town prospered by "mokuro" (vegetable wax), with a street on both sides lined with "shikkui-" and "namako-"walled houses
    Uchiko-cho is located on the mid-stream reaches of the Oda-gawa River branching off from the Hiji-gawa River in the central Ehime. Trade in "mokuro" (vegetable wax obtained from nuts of Japanese wax tree) made it a booming industrial town around the 19th century. Yokaichi Gokoku quarter and its surrounding in the town have been designated a national important traditional building preservation zone, where you can see old stores and houses reminiscent of the prosperity of those days and other buildings that still keep the tasteful appearance of the past. The gently sloping street there is lined on both sides with unique "dozo" (old style warehouse made of clay) styled houses featuring white and yellowish plastered and "namako" (covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster) walls.

    Uchiko-cho boasts a stretch as long as about 600 meters of as many as 70 town houses standing in a row, which include Honhagake's magnificent residence and Omura family's house built in 1790, the oldest in Uchiko. Also, there are the Kamihaga-tei residence, now a "mokuro" (vegetable wax) museum, the town house museum remodeled from a merchant's house, the Soko-kan museum which exhibits diverse folkloric daily appliances of old times. These buildings' interior is a must-see, as well as the exhibition.

    The large wooden building that is typical of the locality and a symbol of the town is the Uchiko-za, a regular kabuki theater. Built in 1916, it was remodeled into a movie theater in 1950, but it was returned to its initial theater style in 1985 with the funds raised in the community.

    Getting there
    About 1 hour and 25 minutes to Matsuyama Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport; about 50 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. About 35 minutes from Matsuyama Airport to Matsuyama Station by bus. About 3 hours and 20 minutes to Okayama Station from Tokyo Station by JR Tokai and Sanyo Shinkansen Line; about 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka by JR Sanyo Shinkansen. About 3 hours from Okayama Station to Matsuyama Station by JR Seto-ohashi-Yosan Line Limited Express. About 30 minutes from Matsuyama Station to Uchiko Station by JR Yosan Line Limited Express.

     

  • Uwajima
    Castle town embraced by mountains over 1,000 meters above sea level - Traditional bull fights with a history of over 300 years
    Uwajima is situated deep inside the Uwajima Bay with saw-toothed coast facing the Bungo Channel at the southwestern Ehime. It forms the central city of Ehime located in the southern district embraced by mountains over 1,000 meters high and was flourishing as a castle town for the Date family since the early 17th century.

    In the center of the city, there are the Uwajima Castle whose donjon remains designated as the important national cultural asset, built in the early 17th century, the Uwatsuhiko-jinja Shrine built in the late 8th century and other sights. The Tenshaen Garden, built as the retirement palace for the Date family, is especially beautiful in the season of wisteria and irises in bloom and admired by the many local people.

    You can see bullfights, a traditional event with a history of over 300 years in Uwajima. The events are held 5 times a year even today. Bulls weighing about 1 ton butt against each other in ring with a diameter of 20 meters in a domed bullfight arena. The bulls fight until either loses the fighting spirit. The largest festival in Uwajima, Warei Grand Festival, is celebrated in every summer at the Warei-jinja Shrine that is worshiped as the protector deity for sea-farers and familiarly called Warei-sama by the local people, and a ritual to pray for rich haul and good harvest is conducted in front of the shrine.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line for about 3 hours and 20 minutes from Tokyo Station, or for about 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Okayama Station. Then take a Limited Express on JR Seto-ohashi-Yosan Line for about 4 hours and 20 minutes from Okayama Station to Uwajima Station.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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