Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture 松山愛媛県
Japan’s Shikoku island have four prefectures, the Kagawa, Tokushima , Kochi and Ehime. Ehime’s capital is Matsuyama which is also Shikoku’s the largest city. From Tokushima, Ehime is reachable by car, train or bus. Travel agencies also offer tour packages for a very affordable price that takes off from Tokushima station to Matsuyama, most of the packages includes bus transportation and hotel accommodation. The tour packages could vary from group/ individual guided tours or discover the place on your own pace. Matsuyama boasts the oldest onsen in Japan which is also Matsuyama’s main tourist attraction, the Dogo Onsen. Another well visited attraction is the Matsuyamajo, an old beautiful castle located at the heart of the city, at the top of the hill and offers a panoramic view of the town. And to indulge oneself to a calm, less crowd bath at dogo onsen, it is best to visit the place during weekdays or early in the morning.
Dogo Onsen doesn’t have accommodation but the onsen is surrounded with hotels from high end to hostels. For a night-two days stay in Matsuyama the Chaharu hotel is a good choice because it is near Dogo onsen, surrounded by restaurants and places to chill at night, and my favorite is the hotel’s indoor and outdoor (open air) bath located at the upper level of the hotel. Try using the hotel’s onsen late at night/ near closing time to be in solitude while gazing to the beautiful city and stary sky. Try bathing at Dogo onsen very early in the morning around 9am, use the top level type (highest price) and if no other early comers are in, you will have a complete privacy using the small bath because most of the locals use the lower types of bath. We also had the chance to meet Hiroki’s friend who is working in Matsuyama, he brought us to a small, quiet and unique pub. The owner himself served and chatted with us, who also speaks English.
There are a lot of activities and sight seeing areas that Matsuyama offers. One is the glass palace (ガラス管,) a few minutes drive or walk away from the chaharu hotel. Entrance fee is needed to see the sophisticated, gorgeous glass wares. Some old crafts are also displayed and cute hand made souvenir glass wares are available for purchase. And btw, dogo onsen closes at 23:00, entry and tickets are sold up to a specified time only.