Matsuyama - Japan Travel Guide - Japanspecialist

Matsuyama

Shikoku's largest city is relaxed and charming.

About Matsuyama
Matsuyama is the largest city on Japan's smallest main island, Shikoku, and is located by the quiet Seto Inland Sea. Despite its half a million inhabitants, it has an old-fashioned tranquillity and charm. Throughout the city, trams travel slowly, and the atmosphere is a little more relaxed than in other Japanese metropolitan cities.

Imperial hot springs, well-kept castle and quiet atmosphere
The ancient spa Dogo Onsen is the absolute biggest attraction here. Japan has thousands of these baths with natural hot springs, but this is said to be the oldest of its kind. Dogo Onsen has given its name to the entire district in which it is located, and you can easily get there by trams and explore the area. Dogo Onsen was the inspiration behind Studio Ghibli’s animated film "Spirited Away" and even the Japanese Imperial family visits the bath from time to time. You can take the cheapest "kami no yu" (bath of the gods) on the first floor - or go higher up to the more luxurious "tama no yu" (bath of the spirits). Here you also have the opportunity to see - but not touch - the exclusive bath used only by the imperial family. Matsuyama also has one of Japan's few preserved original castles, located on a steep hill in the city centre. From the top of the castle, you have a beautiful view of the city and the Seto Inland Sea. Ishiteji Temple is also worth a visit and is located in the area behind Dogo Onsen. The temple is one of 88 temples forming a pilgrimage route on Shikoku.

Other attractions in Matsuyama
If you have time, the small town of Uchiko is worth a visit (about 20 minutes by train). In the old days it was the centre of paper and wax production, and in the streets of the city are beautiful and well-preserved old buildings. The city is also the centre of traditional Japanese theatre. Further to the southwest is the quaint town of Ozu, which also has a beautiful castle and a well-preserved town centre.

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