Last week in Japan was O-bon week and I had some vacation time!! Woohoo. A few months ago I checked Willer Express and Peach airlines to see where I could get to cheaply that Id never been to before…and decided on Matsuyama.
Actually as it took my husband so long to organise coming with me the bus prices had shot up, and ended up not being so cheap afterall! But by then we were committed to going.
Day 1 – Dogo
We arrived at 5:30am weary off the night bus and wanted to get some breakfast and recover, but no where was open! Not even Starbucks. After wandering a while we took a tram (the first of the day) to our hotel area and dropped our bags off.
Then started to look for a breakfast set again, after what felt like days we found a Gusto. Id never been to Gusto before but actually their breakfast was great! I got the typical doorstep toast and boiled egg and it was only 299yen with drinks bar!
Id read online that Dogo Onsen opens at 6am, so that was our next stop.
There were a few price plans (and no English) but it runs from basic entry to entry including yukata, tea sweets and a private room to relax in. We went for the 840yen plan with yukata rental, tea and crackers.
I couldn’t take pictures inside, but it went like this – pay at hatch, get ticket, go in and take off shoes, put shoes in a locker, give ticket to woman at entrance, go up to the second floor (follow the blue line).
Then we were ushered in by a no-nonsense woman, told to put our valuables in another locker (you need 100yen), we were seated and she gave us some information, asked if we needed soap and towel (yes, so she got them, 60yen each). She pointed J down towards the mens and marched off to the womens telling me to keep up. Once at the entrance she left me to it. Then it was usual onsen etiquette.
The bath itself is very simple, even though it was early it was still quite busy. Id guess with locals, as most were old ladies with crooked backs. After 20mins I left, put on my yukata and met J on the relaxing floor. It was nice to cool off and have a rest. Before we left I bought a souvenir towel and orange soap for only 220yen.
Side view of Dogo Onsen, the second floor is where we relaxed.
The next place we visited was just to the right of Dogo Onsen, an outdoor cafe selling mikan (Ehimes fruit) themed food and drink.
J had beer and ice cream and I had some fresh juice.
Some funny characters outside the shop.
We walked around the shopping street, put our feet in the free foot spa by the clock.
Watched the clock strike (and all the characters appear).
Walked to the top of Dogo Park.
Visted two local shrines.
Yu Shrine to the onsen waters.
Isaniwa Jinja the steps to this one were brutal in the heat!
After that went to Dogo Beer Brewery Restaurant for lunch and a well earnt cold beer.
Finally it was time for us to check in, so we went back to the hotel and fell asleep! J woke me up and forced me to get up about 7pm, and we headed out to an izakaya we found online – Doma Doma. We had a really great time, the service was friendly, food tasty (I had guacamole salad) and I had many nomihodai cube libras! Im happy we found out its actually a chain and there are two in Osaka!
Day 2 – Kashima Island
For our middle day we decided on a day trip to one of the islands, J chose Kashima Island! First we took a local train to Hojo and then a ferry across.
The boat is only every 30mins, and the trip takes like 2min!! You could almost swim across!
The island basically has nothing, so you should take everything with you. We saw on google maps a SunKus convenience store in Hojo but it had closed down. So we had very little. At the small small shop on the island we got some snacks but there wasn’t much choice.
We relaxed on the beach for an hour first, then went for a wander. A lot of people were jumping a rope at the end of the beach so we did the same.
Iyo Futami in the distance.
I was surprised when we turned the corner and we were back at the ferry stop again! A full loop! It seems the reason half of it was roped off is that the area has been damaged, there are parts of the path that have crumbled and some land slide damaged areas. I guess its enter at your own risk!
J bought some deer food and we fed the deer by the port.
Then took the path along side Kashima Shrine to the top!
The path was muddy, overgrown, full of flying and buzzing insects and I was only wearing flip flops! Not a good foot wear choice!
The top! It was worth facing the insects and walking in the humidity for the sea views.
After that we were pretty much worn out so got the next ferry back to Hojo and a train to Matsuyama. For dinner we went to the beer garden on top of Takashimaya. Our table had a great view of the ferris wheel we could see from our hotel window.
Day 3 – Mastuyama Castle
Our last day in Matsuyama, we checked out, went to a local cafe for breakfast, and then jumped on a tram to Dogo. We bought some omiyage for work – taruto roll cake! Then caught a bus to Ishiteji shrine.
One of the weirdest shrines Ive ever been to, it was a jumble of everything, including lots of rusty fold up chairs and a statue in a kids paddling pool. After some searching we found the cave entrance to the inner shrine.
It was really dark and wet in places, I almost walked into random creepy stone figures/statues at least twice.
At the end we came out on a main road!
The entrance on the other side. We crossed the road and entered a old shrine theme park of sorts. Some statues were disintegrating or disintegrated! The main shrine was a big gold bowl gaurded by lions and a giant marble pair of hands, holding marbles. All surrounded by creepy wooden carvings.
Maybe this was the weirdest…
I was thoroughly creeped out and happy to leave, though that meant going back through the tunnel!
We walked back to town, and then caught a tram to Matsuyama Castle. The castle is on a mountain, accessible by a cable car or chair lift. We decided to chair lift. It literally was a school cafeteria chair and a lift mechanism.
We went inside for the tour, it was mostly empty, just a small display of the castles history, some swords and samurai gear.
Afterwards we sat outside and waited for the festival to start!
First some folk music then this local idol group.
The castles mascot came out!
There were lots of painted parasols displayed under lights, it was a really cute idea! They were done by children, and I liked the pooh-san one best!
There were great views of the city from the castles grounds.
After an hour or so we left to get our bags, grab some food and wait for the bus to Osaka.
I had a really great time in Matsuyama, three days was just enough to do everything without being rushed or getting bored.
Matsuyama Tourist Information http://www.city.matsuyama.ehime.jp/lang/en/sightseeing/