This week’s Exploring Japan goes to Shikoku, the smallest of the main islands of Japan. This time, it’s Ehime prefecture.
Ehime is situated on the northwestern part of Shikoku. It has a population of 1,430,086. The capital city is Matsuyama. The five largest cities are:
Ehime is a very mountainous prefecture, and also has a lot of islands on the Seto Inland Sea.
Matsuyama Castle – This is one of the two original castles in Ehime and one of 12 original castles in Japan. It’s said to be one of the best castles in Japan. I would love to see it!
Uwajima Castle – This is the other original castle in Ehime. It’s a smaller castle, and can be found in Uwajima.
Imabari Castle – This castle in Imabari is a recent reconstruction, having been built in 1980.
Ozu Castle – This castle is a very recent reconstruction, having been completed in only 2004. It’s a completely authentic reconstruction, being faithful to the original design. I’d really like to see this castle in Ozu.
Ehime is home to the J League soccer team Ehime F.C.
Things to see and do
Ehime is a great place to see castles, of course. But I’d also like to see Mount Ishizuchi, the tallest mountain on Shikoku. The summit is possible to reach, but requires the use of chains to pull yourself up. Also famous is Dogo Onsen, the oldest hot springs in Japan. Shikoku has 88 temples that are part of a pilgrimage, and you can find several of them in Ehime.
In Matsuyama, apart from Matsuyama Castle and Dogo Onsen, you can find the Yuzuki Castle Ruins and Dogo Park. Isaniwa Shrine is an impressive shrine to see. Matsuyama Central Park has a European style castle. Other places I think I’d like to see are the Ehime Museum of Art and Ninomaru Historical Garden.
Uwajima is probably one of the more interesting cities in Ehime. Taga Shrine is a fertility shrine with many large phalluses, as well as a sex museum. Nearby is a big shrine called Warei Shrine, which is one of the more famous ones in the city. You can also see the Warei Ushi-oni Festival, which features one of the 6 bull sumo tournaments. Uwajima has 6 sumo tournaments that are fought by bulls. It’s fairly straightforward.
Saijo is a decent city to see. It’s where you can access Mt. Ishizuchi, but there’s more than that. You can also see Komyoji temple and Ishizuchi Shrine. But Saijo is also home to the only Asahi beer brewery in Japan. You can also drink fresh spring water from the Aqua Route. And finally, if you like trains, check out the Shikoku Railway Culture Museum.
Niihama is famous for the Niihama Taiko Festival. It features a parade with 47 taiko drum floats, and it’s considered to be a man’s festival.
Ikata is a very picturesque town that is on a very narrow peninsula. You can see Sadamisaki Lighthouse, as well as the Seto Wind Hill Park, which has many windmills. It’s also home to a nuclear power museum, at the Ikata Visitors Center.
Ehime is famous for mikan, or tangerines. Also popular are iyokan, which are similar to mikan, but more sour.
Have you been to Ehime? What would you suggest to see there?