Start your day by exploring the historic castle town of Matsuyama and relax at Japan’s oldest hot spring, “Dogo Onsen” afterwards. Take a scenic drive down to eastern Ehime and enjoy the spectacular colours of spring cherry blossoms, summer flowers or autumn leaves. Visit the remains of the Besshi copper mine on the way and learn about Japanese industrial modernisation.
JR Matsuyama Station
↓Approx. 10 min by car
↓Approx. 10 min by car
Matsuyama Castle, in the style of the Momoyama period, is one of Japan’s few original surviving castles. Its 21 buildings are listed as Important Cultural Properties, and the castle is regarded as one of the three best ‘Renritsu-shiki Hirayama-jiro’ (Renritsu-shiki: an architectural style where the top castle tower is in the centre with smaller towers on either side; Hirayama-jiro: a castle built on a hill on a plain). The towers are all connected to defend the main castle building. The castle is a well-known symbol of Matsuyama and is written about in the prologue of the novel, “Clouds Above the Hill” by Ryotaro Shiba. It has been and will be guarding the city of Matsuyama for centuries!
Approx. 10 min by car
Dogo Onsen Honkan
Dogo Onsen Honkan is thought to be the oldest hot spring in Japan. It is mentioned in the ancient texts of the Kojiki and Manyoshu. The main building, a three-story castle-style wooden structure, has been designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan. This bathhouse is an iconic feature of Matsuyama in the novel “Botchan” and many other masterpieces of literature and film. After enjoying the smooth hot spring water, visitors can put on a Yukata robe and stroll around the culture rich local streets to experience the spirit of this Onsen town. A new annex building, “Asuka-no-Yu”, wich adopts the architectural style of the 6th to 8th centuries, was opened in September 2017.
Approx. 1 hr by car
Located amongst mountains coloured with spring cherry blossoms and autumn leaves, Hondani Onsen is a historic hot spring where ancient emperors used to visit. The Hondani Onsenkan consists of two buildings connected by a corridor. The main building has an indoor bath and a family bath, while the new building contains an indoor bath and an open-air bath. You can just stop by for the onsen, enjoy freshly prepared local fish dishes at the restaurant or have a relaxing overnight stay. The hot spring water is clear, smooth, refreshing and known to promote beautiful skin.
Approx. 10 min by car
Towel Museum Ichihiro
This is the world’s first towel museum dedicated to the art of towel manufacturing. The unique museum has much to offer including displays of intricate traditional towels, works of art made from towels, an exhibition on the towel-making process, and there is even a garden area rich with seasonal beauty. The museum café offers pleasant lunches or afternoon teas and an enticing range of original goods and local products are available in the museum shops.
Approx. 30 min by car
Built for worshipping Mt. Ishizuchi, Ishizuchi shrine stands on the mountainside as if looking out over the whole world. The shrine consists of four parts: one at the summit, two on the mountainside, with the head shrine standing on the foothills. Visitors can experience the magnificence of the shrine not only by visiting but also by taking part in the various festivals held here including the autumn festival in October, and the star festival in February.
Approx. 40 min by car
Minetopia Besshi is a theme park built out of the industrial remains of the Besshi copper mine on two sites: the Hadeba zone (opened in 1991) and the Tohnaru zone (opened in 1994). As well as a tour of the remains, visitors can experience gold panning, join an experimental tour of the mine to learn about its development over time, followed by a refreshing dip in the natural hot spring “Tenku-no-Yu”. Both children and adults will enjoy a fun day out here. The Tohnaru zone is popularly known as the “Machu Picchu of the Orient”, for its stone walls and brick structures standing high on the mountain top.
Approx. 50 min by car
The highland areas around Suiha Mine are known for their picturesque scenery. The 360° panoramic views stretching from the Seto Inland Sea to the Shikoku Mountains welcome you with flower carpets of rapeseed blossoms in spring and cosmos during summer and early autumn. Accordingly, the area attracts many tourists during the rapeseed flower festival in mid-April and cosmos festival in mid-August. There is an observatory offering great views of the highland flowers and Ishizuchi Mountains, along with the Washington cherry blossom garden and a children’s playground. Suiha Kogen is the perfect place for a family day out.