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Culture in Ehime

A time-honoured history. The treasure of refined Japanese culture

The varieties of culture in Ehime Prefecture are continuously built by the local people's activities. For example, the iconic symbol "Matsuyama Castle" in Matsuyama City and "Ozu Castle" which was built at the riverside of Ozu City, are valuable cultural heritage showing the castle architecture of that time.

"Dogo Onsen", one of the oldest hot springs in Japan, has a high reputation around the world of its excellent quality of water and hospitality. Furthermore, the "Iwaya Temple" and "Ishite Temple", both are included in the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage, are unique temples that worth to visit.

The splendid, fantastic "Saijo Festival" and the vivid "Niihama Taiko Festival" will surely bring you an unforgettable experience.

Text:Takashi Shigeto

#Castle #Hot Spring (or Onsen) #Pilgrimage #Festival (or Matsuri)

Leaving a footprint on the history of Japan The renowned castle revived in modern times

In Ehime prefecture there are many castles with high historical value. Located in the center of Matsuyama City, "Matsuyama Castle" is built in the architectural style in late 16th century. 21 buildings of the castle, including the castle tower, have been designated as an Important Cultural Properties.

In modern times, several buildings of the castle has been destroyed due to fire and war. However they were restored by a all-wood-structure method which is even rarely be found in Japan. You can go to the centre of castle on the summit of Shiroyama (Katsuyama) by ropeway lift. There is a mascot character called "Yoshiaki-kun" who is named after the first castle owner, military commander Yoshiaki Kato (1563-1631). He is very popular among tourists and you may see him walking around the central square sometimes.

"Ozu Castle" located about 50km to the south of Matsuyama Castle and overlooks the Hijikawa River banks, is a castle built by many "Daimyos" (Japanese magnates in old times) in early modern period. The castle tower was once demolished but many craftsmen gathered to restore it with the help of historical materials such as old maps, models and old photographs over 200 years ago. Furthermore, there are about 100 types of souvenirs including the castle stamp as a memento of visiting the castle. You can also see the open practice of the musket troops which held once a month.

Matsuyama Castle

  • Address 1 Marunouchi, Matsuyama City, Ehime
  • Phone Number089-921-4873

View at VISIT EHIME

Ozu Castle

  • Address 903 Ozu, Ozu City, Ehime
  • Phone Number089-324-1146

View at VISIT EHIME

Travel back in time in Dogo Onsen, the historic hot spring village in Japan

"Dogo Onsen" is mentioned in Japan's oldest history book "Nihon Shoki" edited in the 8th century, that it is said to be one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. It has been widely known since ancient times. It also appears in many anecdotes and stories including the "Legend of the Shirasagi," which is the story about an injured egret was healed by the hot spring.

The soft and smooth hot spring is suitable for health and skincare. Its alkaline simple hot spring has a reputation of promoting smooth skin. The hot spring flows from source to bath, without any artificial reheating and diluting, is very rare in Japan. There is a big Japanese drum hanging from the ceiling which is hit three times a day to tell the time, creating an unique sensational atmosphere in "Dogo Onsen".

From 2019, the "Dogo REBORN Project" has started to refurbish the Main Building of Dogo Onsen which is over 125 years old. This is the first time in Japan to carry out preservation and repair work on the Important Cultural Property while the baths are still open for public. Artworks collaborated with Japan's leading manga artist Osamu Tezuka's "Phoenix", now showing in Dogo Onsen for a limited period of time, are awaiting for your visit!

Dogo Onsen Honkan

  • Address 5-6 Dogoyunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime
  • Phone Number089-912-5141

View at VISIT EHIME

Unique temples among the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage

"Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage" is a general name for 88 Buddhist temples related to the famous monk Kukai (774-835). Pilgrimage to all 88 places is called "Henro" and it is said that there are more than 100,000 people participate annually in recent years.

Within the 88 temples in Ehime Prefecture, there are 26 temples from No. 40 to No. 65. The 45th one "Iwaya Temple" is located on a mountain with an altitude of 700m surrounded by rocky mountains and old-growth forests, which is rare among the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage. The mystical landscape of the rocks in strange shape and different sizes is believed to be emerged from the seabed about 50 million years ago due to the movement and erosion of the ground. Furthermore, the huge rock cliff rise behind the main hall of "Iwaya Temple" are scattered with rock caves where many monks was practicing sadhana since ancient times. The entire temple area is designated as a National Scenic Spot.

Another highlight is the 51st temple, "Ishite Temple". Six structures of the temple were being designated as Important Cultural Properties, including the national treasure "Niomon", the main hall, and the three-storied pagoda. In March 2009, it has been ranked 1-star by the "Michelin Green Guide Japan".

Iwaya Temple

  • Address 1468 Nanatori, Kumakogen Town, Kamiukena District, Ehime
  • Phone Number089-257-0417

View at VISIT EHIME

Ishite Temple

  • Address 2-9-21 Ishite, Matsuyama City, Ehime
  • Phone Number089-977-0870

View at VISIT EHIME

Splendid and powerful, a superb collection vivid festivals

The "Saijo Festival" is held every October in Saijo City, Ehime Prefecture, is a joint festival of four shrines: Isono Shrine, Kamo Shrine, Iwaoka Shrine and Iizumi Shrine. It has a history of about 300 years, featuring more than 150 Danjiri (wooden floats) and Mikoshi portable shrines are being dedicated. It is gorgeous and spectacular that being loved by the local people.

The highlight of the festival is fantastic “Kawairi” of the "Isono Shrine Annual Festival" on October 16th. About 80 Danjiri and Mikoshi portable shrines are gathered at the river banks of River Kamo from around 15:00. Lanterns are lit at the dusk, when people surrounding and carrying the Mikoshi portable shrines start entering to the river at the end of the festival, is such an energetic scenery that cannot be seen anywhere else.

Another must-see is "Niihama Taiko Festival" in Niihama City, which is also held in October. It is a magnificent festival which is named as "The top three major festivals in Shikoku" along with "Awa Odori" in Tokushima Prefecture and "Yosakoi Festival" in Kochi Prefecture.

The climax of "Kakikurabe" is when 54 huge floats "Taikodai" in exquisite designs, paraded in the city. 150 men called "Kakio" carry about 3 tons of floats, competing on the technique of raising and lowering them according to the drum beats. Both are the best festivals in Japan you shouldn't miss.

Saijo Festival

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Niihama Taiko Festival

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Experience Ehime

Activity in Ehime

Cycling, fishing or canyoning.
You will find the best ways to enjoy the nature

Surrounded by beautiful mountains, seas and rivers, Ehime Prefecture has the best natural environment for various activities. "Setouchi Shimanami Expressway” is a popular route for cyclists. "Kutsuna Islands" and "Sada Cape", both are famous fishing spots for anglers. "Omogo Gorge" and "Nametoko Gorge", are ideal for stream fishing and canyoning. In Ehime Prefecture you can enjoy the dynamic Japanese nature in all seasons.

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Food & Drink in Ehime

Savory taste from locally grown and the sea

Favored by a mild climate, Ehime Prefecture ranks the first in Japan of the varieties and produce of citrus fruits. It is also a famous location of sake brewing. There are 37 sake breweries making superb local sake. Surrounded by Seto Inland Sea, a lot of restaurants in Ehime Prefecture are serving "Taimeshi" and other fresh seafood. Local snacks like "Imbari-yakitori" and "Senzanki" are also exquisite. You will feel the hospitality of Ehime Prefecture from their food culture.

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