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Machi Collection Vol. 4 – Ehime Prefecture

This series is our collection of selected locations (machi) from all around Japan – places with various different cultures and local specialties, and those with novel customs of some sort. In the last volume we went to Oita, in volume 4 we feature Ehime of the Shikoku region!


Ehime prefecture is divided into 3 large areas, the Nanyo district where agriculture prospers, Tonyo where manufacturing is centered, and Chuyo composed of the service industry. It is because of this that despite being in the same prefecture, dialects, people’s character, and culture varies slightly. With a population of about 1,400,000 it is the most populated area in Shikoku and full of sightseeing spots. The area specializes in tangerines and towels, but the charm doesn’t stop there.



Matsuyama Castle; the castle keep built at the close of the Sengoku Period

Matsuyama City of Ehime Prefecture has the largest population within Shikoku. In the middle of that growth is Matsuyama Castle. The castle was founded by Kato Yoshiaki who was chosen by Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi to be one of the “Seven Spears of Shizutagatake” after he fought in the battle of Shizugatake. The construction started in 1602 and took a quarter of a century to complete.

Castles with towers built before the Edo Period are few and this castle is known as one of the twelve remaining in Japan. Many people who are not interested in history visit this castle as it was designated as “Japan’s Top 100 Castles” in 2006 and the following year as one of the “Top 100 Historical Sites of Beautiful Japan”.


Matsuyama Castle Home Page
HP: https://www.matsuyamajo.jp



Imabari Castle; said to be Japan’s best seaside castle

With greatness on par with Matsuyama Castle, the construction of Imabari Castle started in the year 1602 and finished 11 years later. This castle is located in Imabari City which is adjacent to Matsuyama City. Sitting along Imabari’s inlet sea, this seaside castle boasts an impressive view. This castle was built by Todo Takatora, a master of castle construction. It has the largest sea water moat that hosted a harbor within the castle walls in Japan, Takatora was a skilled castle builder and his ingenuity is exhibited here.

Starting at half an hour after the sunset until 11 pm, about 100 lights are used to light up the castle and its grounds taking into account the brightness, color, and angles, changing the scenery into a more romantic setting. It’s interesting to see the contrast compared to the castle’s strong daytime appearance

Imabari City is famous for towels. Here 60% of all towels in Japan are produced at a quality above all others. You can check towel companies and shops all over Japan for them.


Imabari Castle Home Page



Iyonada Monogatari; get your fill of scenery from this sightseeing train

Iyonada Monogatari is a sightseeing train that has 4 services a day running along the Ehime coastline. The two cars are painted in a sunset red and a brilliant yellow representative of the sun and citrus fruit. The two luxury cars being a main feature with a basic two tone design. Seats facing the sea, four person box seats that can be enjoyed by friends or families, face-to-face seats for two and great for dates are all available and if you reserve beforehand, guests can taste original cuisine made with domestic ingredients produced in Ehime.

The train route consists of only Matsuyama to Iyo-Ozu and Matsuyama to Yawatahama. Depending on the locals you may be able to enjoy a performance at each station.


Iyonada Monogatari Home Page



Mount Ishizuchi; learn about Japan’s unique faith and customs

With an elevation of 1,982 meters, Mount Ishizuchi is the highest mountain in Western Japan and was revered in the old days as a sacred mountain. Included as one of the seven sacred mountains of Japan, this location flourished as a place to practice the Shugendo religion during the Nara Period. In present day there are various mountain trails available to choose from depending on your strength and experience. There is even a rare course you can do climbing vertically up a steep cliff using chains. If you don’t have confidence to climb the mountain, make use of the Ishizuchi Tozan Ropeway. Seeing The Seto Inland Sea and Tosa Bay all in one unbroken scene from the summit is an exceptional experience. If you’re lucky you can see all the way to the Chugoku Mountains and the Kyushu Mountains.

A religious ceremony is held upon the start of the climbing season from July 1st to the 10th. Many believers dressed as practitioners of Shugendo come to climb the mountain at this time and as a remnant of the old traditions, women are forbidden from the mountain on July 1st only, so it’s best to avoid this day.



Dogo Onsen; the face of Ehime, Japan’s oldest hot spring

Dogo Onsen holds 3000 years of history and is mentioned in history books, Records of Ancient Matters (Kojiki), and the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry (Man’yoshu). It is the oldest hot spring in Japan and the entire main building is designated as an important cultural property. Often used in scenes within novels and movies, it’s an appropriate symbol of Matsuyama, Ehime. It may be fun to walk around the area in a yukata like they do in the movies.



The bath that appears in Natsume Soseki’s masterpiece

The “Kami no Yu” bath appears in Botchan, the masterpiece written by Natsume Soseki, a literary master from the Meiji Period. A warning is written on the bath wall, “Must not swim here”, as the main character would swim in the bath in the novel. This hot spring is quite popular as a casual spot much like Sento (public baths). Submerge yourself in the water and you will gain smooth skin.


Dogo Onsen Home Page



Ehime Prefecture has the best sightseeing area within Shikoku offering a varied experience. Here you can find scenery offering various seafood and steep mountains, traditions you won’t see on the mainland and Japan’s oldest hot spring. The Ehime local Promotion Association’s antenna shop located near the Matsuyama City Hall doesn’t only sell souvenirs, but also provides tourist information. If you’re a beginner tourist be sure to use these services


Ehime Tourism Information Website



Edit & Text:K. Sachio


Editor and writer.

Works in fashion magazines and many other genres such as culture, gourmet, etc.

A person who loves animals, family, and has a hardcore sweet tooth.

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