Matsuyama city and Tobe Zoological Park for family holidays

Enjoy the scenic chairlift or cable car rides to Matsuyama Castle. Following an exploration of the castle, head for Dogo Onsen by the local Botchan train. Tobe Zoological Park is the largest zoo in western Japan. Meet the popular polar bear “Peace”, Japan’s first hand-reared polar bear! Enjoy a variety of animal-themed menu items at the Sky Garden restaurant!

Day 1

  • JR Matsuyama Station

    10 min + 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.

    20 min + 40 min
  • Tobe Zoological Park of Ehime Prefecture

    Meet the lively animals of the largest zoo in western Japan

    ■America Street
    America Street is home to American natives including squirrel monkeys, llamas and condors.

    ■Water Zone
    Watch penguins swimming freely in a large pool and colourful flamingos standing one- legged on the shore. While the penguins out of water offer a different look at this unique bird.

    ■Snake House
    The Snake House is home to reptiles from all over the world as well as a range of nocturnal animals. You can see large and small snakes coiling themselves up, crocodiles and iguanas too frightening to get close to, and nocturnal owls and flying squirrels.

    ■Bear Street
    Meet the popular polar bear “Peace”, sea lions and Ezo brown bears on Bear Street. Enjoy the bears’ adorable behaviour as they munch and play among the hanging branches.

    ■Little World
    In Little World, children can touch small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs. The specially-designed building offers perfect views of animals as they behave in the wild. Watch red pandas running overhead and otters moving between water and shore.

    ■Asia Street
    Asia Street is home to a range of animals including Japanese macaques, camels and deer. The Japanese macaques live in groups as they do in their native rocky mountain habitats. Observe parents and children groom and feed each other.

    ■Australia Street
    Australia Street offers encounters with the popular animals of Australia including kangaroos, emus and wallabies. The country is home to many uniquely evolved species and this is the only location in Japan where the endangered cassowary can be seen.

    ■Monkey Town
    In Monkey Town more than 20 different species of monkeys from around the world are housed. The main feature of this area is an orangutan’s tightrope walk between high steel towers. Don’t miss one of the scheduled performances in front of a crowd of adoring observers!

    ■Africa Street
    Africa Street is the land of “the king of the beasts” and in addition to lions there are leopards and giraffes gracefully feeding on leaves. The enclosure is designed like a vast savannah allowing the animals to be seen in their native habitat. The freedom allowed to these incredible animals offers a vastly different viewing experience from the typical caged animal.

    ■Elephant (Zo) Street
    Elephant Street is home to both elephants and tigers. There are no other zoos in Japan where African elephant parents and children live together. Their affectionate looks are heart-warming. The powerful tigers display both the fierce look of a big cat on the prowl and the sweet appearance of taking a napping cat. With a bit of luck you will get to hear the roar of a white tiger!

    10 min + 2 min
  • Tobe-yaki Togeikan (Tobe Pottery Center)

    Beautiful pottery with distinctive indigo designs

    At the Tobe-yaki Togeikan visitors can see a range of earthen and porcelain Tobe ware by local artisans, and try their hand at making or painting a piece. Earthenware has been produced in the area since the Nara and Heian periods (710–1185), while porcelain production dates from the Edo period (1603–1867). Today there are around 100 active pottery studios in Tobe.

    Tobe earthenware is admired for its practicality and is popular for daily-use items. The more decorative porcelain ware is typically grayish-white and bears bold indigo designs. The coloration of the porcelain is due to the high iron content of the local clay. A variety of Tobe ware is available to browse and buy at Tobe-yaki Togeikan, along with local souvenirs.