A Day In Matsuyama

Matsuyama (松山市) is the capital of Ehime Prefecture, and the largest city on Shikoku Island. One of the stops on my Japan roadtrip, we spent a day there exploring the city’s two most famous attractions: its feudal castle overlooking the city, and the oldest hot springs in the country, both dating back hundreds of years.

Matsuyama Castle

Located at the top of Mount Katsuyama, which is really just a steep hill, Matsuyamajō (松山城, Matsuyama Castle) is visible from nearly every corner of the city. Lovingly restored after wars, fires, and lightning strikes, the castle is a beautiful sight especially during springtime’s cherry blossom season. Access to the site from the city centre is convenient via a ropeway tram or single-seat chairlifts up the side of the hill – or you could hike the short distance up.

The castle consists of an outer and inner keep, as well as several turrets and a main tower. The precision-constructed sloped walls made it difficult to breach the castle. From the top of the tower are great views of Matsuyama City and its shimmering harbour. Inside the buildings are displays and artifacts describing the history of the castle and life around it.

Matsuyama

Matsuyama Castle.


Matsuyama

Steep walls and lookout turrets.


Matsuyama

The entrance to the inner keep.


Matsuyama

Precisely-built curved walls.


Matsuyama

Inside the inner courtyard.


Matsuyama

Great view of Matsuyama from the top of the hill.


Matsuyama

The main castle tower.


Matsuyama

Gardens around the outer keep.


Matsuyama

Matsuyama city and the harbour in the distance.

Dogo Onsen Resort

One of Japan’s oldest and most famous hot spring resorts Dogo Onsen (道後温泉) is located in central Matsuyama. The area is very popular with tourists for its many ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) as well as the public bath houses; the use of the Dogo Onsen hot springs for therapeutic healing goes back over 1,000 years.

The most famous attraction in the Dogo Onsen Honkan, a traditional wooden public bath house that dates back to 1894. For a small fee you too can experience the same hospitality as some of Japan’s most famous guests, including the Imperial Family. The building was also the inspiration for the bath house in Hayao Miyazaki’s famous animated film Spirited Away.

Matsuyama

The covered shopping arcade.


Matsuyama

Dogo Onsen tram station.


Matsuyama

Ryokan guests often stroll the streets in traditional yukata.


Matsuyama

Udon shop in the arcade. Udon noodles are a Shikoku specialty.


Matsuyama

Dogo Onsen’s secondary bath house, Tsubaki no Yu, that uses the same hot spring source.


Matsuyama

The main bath building, Dogo Onsen Honkan.


Matsuyama

Traditional wooden construction.


Matsuyama

The traditional public bath surrounded by modern Japan.


Matsuyama

Dogo Onsen Honkan, the inspiration to Spirited Away.

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