Explore Matsuyama (a historic route)

Take the local Botchan train to see the best of Matsuyama. This is the perfect route for history lovers!

Day 1

  • JR Matsuyama Station

    20 min
  • Temple 51: Ishiteji (Temples on the Pilgrimage)

    An impressively mysterious and sacred place

    This temple is No. 51 of the 88 temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Many tourists come to visit the famously mysterious temple in addition to those on the pilgrimage. The temple is home to a number of famous buildings such as the Niomon Gate, a designated national treasure, and the temple’s main hall, bell tower and pagoda, designated Important Cultural Properties. Other popular sights include a goddess for safe childbirth, a treasure house, the Mantra cave, and an inner temple. There is something for everyone at Ishite-ji and something new to discover with each visit.

    15 min
  • Isaniwa Shrine

    An architectural masterpiece reflecting the elegance of the Momoyama period

    After climbing the 135 stone steps, a bright vermillion building catches your eye. Isaniwa Shrine is one of the three Hachiman-zukuri-style architectural works and is designated an Important Cultural Property. Passing through the gorgeous double-storey gate, you will be stunned by the magnificent main shrine building with gold-leafed columns, curving beams and beams with engraved decorations. The shrine has a number of documents on Japanese mathematics displayed along its corridors demonstrating the popularity of Japanese mathematics among the local people of Matsuyama.

    2 min
  • Dogo Haikara Dori Street (Dogo Shopping Street)

    Stroll through a retro shopping arcade

    This covered shopping street lined with souvenir stores, cafes, and restaurants is a popular destination for buying regional gifts and enjoying local cuisine. It retains the charming atmosphere of the Meiji period (1868–1912), and connects Dogo Onsen Honkan and Dogo Onsen Station. Shops lining the arcade sell regional specialties such as Imabari towels—produced in north-eastern Ehime—and various mikan-based snacks and drinks. The Dogo Tourist Information Center is at the arcade’s south entrance. Also near this entrance are the Botchan Karakuri Clock, which features mechanical performing figures, and a free public foot bath where you can soak your feet in the soothing waters of Dogo Onsen.

    2 min
  • Botchan Train

    A restored locomotive “as tiny as a matchbox”

    The original locomotive was active and loved by the locals for 67 years from 1888. It came to be known as “Botchan Ressha” after the main character of a famous novel by Soseki Natsume. The original steam locomotives puffing black smoke have been remodelled as diesel-powered replicas. Drivers dress as they did 100 years ago transporting visitors back to an earlier era. The train runs from Matsuyama city centre to Dogo Onsen offering passengers a nostalgic ride and a view of town from the train window.

    2 min + 10 min
  • Matsuyama Ropeway Shopping Street

    A pretty townscape based on a concept of “Nagomi: Peacefulness”

    The Matsuyama Ropeway Shopping Street is at the foot of Matsuyama Castle, leading to the cable car station for the castle. The relaxing street is lined with chic independent shops. From the widely known “Uwajima Taimeshi” to the leading brand “Imabari Towel”, the large variety of eateries and souvenir shops here offer a uniquely Ehime experience. A specialty Mikan shop is popular with tourists keen to try a cup of Mikan juice uniquely served from the tap. It is one of the few universally designed shopping streets in Japan and offers a relaxing shopping atmosphere.

    10 min
  • Matsuyama Castle

    An imposing castle with stunning views

    Matsuyama Castle was built in the early seventeenth century on Mt. Katsuyama (132 m) in the center of the city. You can walk up the small mountain, or take a cable car or chair lift. It is one of twelve Japanese castles to have an original keep built before the end of the Edo period (1603–1867). It is a masterwork of castle defenses, with hidden gates, stone walls up to 17 meters tall, and elaborate containment zones. Inside are displays about the castle's history, including exhibits of armor, weapons, and ancient blueprints. The top floor of the keep affords views of downtown Matsuyama, the surrounding mountains, and the Seto Inland Sea. In the spring, the castle grounds are popular for their cherry blossoms.

    10 min
  • Bansuiso

    Get a taste of upper class life in this luxurious salon

    Bansuiso is a Renaissance-style villa built as a second home of Earl Sadakoto Hisamatsu, a descendant of the former Matsuyama clan. It has hosted the Imperial Family and been a popular venue for high society notables of various artistic fields. Making a good use of the gorgeous architecture of the time, it continues to host a range of events and exhibitions today. Although located in the city centre, the villa allows visitors to relax in the charming retro rooms isolated from the hustle and bustle going on outside.