Take a scenic drive from the castle town of Matsuyama to eastern Ehime

Start your day by exploring the historic castle town of Matsuyama and relax at Japan’s oldest hot spring, “Dogo Onsen” afterwards. Take a scenic drive down to eastern Ehime and enjoy the spectacular colours of spring cherry blossoms, summer flowers or autumn leaves. Visit the remains of the Besshi copper mine on the way and learn about Japanese industrial modernisation.

Day 1

  • JR Matsuyama Station

    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.

    1 hr
  • Hondani Onsenkan

    One of Iyo’s three famous hot springs, experience a traditional Onsen

    Located amongst mountains coloured with spring cherry blossoms and autumn leaves, Hondani Onsen is a historic hot spring where ancient emperors used to visit. The Hondani Onsenkan consists of two buildings connected by a corridor. The main building has an indoor bath and a family bath, while the new building contains an indoor bath and an open-air bath. You can just stop by for the onsen, enjoy freshly prepared local fish dishes at the restaurant or have a relaxing overnight stay. The hot spring water is clear, smooth, refreshing and known to promote beautiful skin.

    10 min
  • Towel Museum

    Learn about Imabari’s most famous export

    The city of Imabari has a 120-year history of towel production and is the leading production area in Japan. There are almost 200 factories in the city to process and dye cotton yarn, and make towels. The Towel Museum is a building complex with a working factory, galleries, eateries, and shops where you can buy towels, toweling accessories, and regional souvenirs.

    The main exhibition space has displays of intricately designed towels as well as a mock factory floor with functioning machinery that illustrates the production process. Creative and colorful installations made from towels or spools of yarn make for fun photo opportunities. A permanent gallery is dedicated to the world of Moomins, the popular storybook characters from Finland. Statues of the characters can also be found in the Museum’s strolling garden.

    30 min
  • Ishizuchi Shrine

    The shrine worshiping the sacred mountain of Mt. Ishizuchi

    Built for worshipping Mt. Ishizuchi, Ishizuchi shrine stands on the mountainside as if looking out over the whole world. The shrine consists of four parts: one at the summit, two on the mountainside, with the head shrine standing on the foothills. Visitors can experience the magnificence of the shrine not only by visiting but also by taking part in the various festivals held here including the autumn festival in October, and the star festival in February.

    40 min
  • Minetopia Besshi

    Enjoy travelling back in time at this interactive amusement park!

    Minetopia Besshi is a theme park built out of the industrial remains of the Besshi copper mine on two sites: the Hadeba zone (opened in 1991) and the Tohnaru zone (opened in 1994). As well as a tour of the remains, visitors can experience gold panning, join an experimental tour of the mine to learn about its development over time, followed by a refreshing dip in the natural hot spring “Tenku-no-Yu”. Both children and adults will enjoy a fun day out here. The Tohnaru zone is popularly known as the “Machu Picchu of the Orient”, for its stone walls and brick structures standing high on the mountain top.

    50 min
  • Suiha Kogen

    A scenic place for colourful flowers

    The highland areas around Suiha Mine are known for their picturesque scenery. The 360° panoramic views stretching from the Seto Inland Sea to the Shikoku Mountains welcome you with flower carpets of rapeseed blossoms in spring and cosmos during summer and early autumn. Accordingly, the area attracts many tourists during the rapeseed flower festival in mid-April and cosmos festival in mid-August. There is an observatory offering great views of the highland flowers and Ishizuchi Mountains, along with the Washington cherry blossom garden and a children’s playground. Suiha Kogen is the perfect place for a family day out.