Home to one of the nation’s original castles, a spiritual pilgrimage journey, and plenty of mikan oranges, Ehime is the place you’ve been looking to uncover a side of Japan a little less tourist trodden. Here are just a handful of unforgettable Ehime experiences you may want to try.
Picnic on the grounds of Matsuyama Castle
Then admire the city skyline from the top
Once you’re done wandering through the castle, head inside to the main building to scale the narrow wooden staircase that leads to the Tenshu, the highest lookout point on the grounds. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to see the incredible castle grounds unfold beneath you. Looking out further, you’ll be privy to skyline views of the entire Matsuyama city.
Meet pilgrims walking the 88 Temple Pilgrimage
One of Japan’s most famous pilgrimage walks, and also one of the main reasons behind Shikoku’s tourism, the 88 Temple Pilgrimage is a walk that loops around the island of Shikoku connecting the area’s most spiritual and historic sites. The journey is around 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) long, but that doesn’t deter hundreds of thousands of people from making the trek across the island. You’ll be able to pick out the pilgrims by their white clothing and broad, cone-shaped hats called “sugegasas.” If you’re feeling friendly, be sure to stop and have a chat; they’ll definitely have rich stories to share.
Stroll the streets of Historic Uchiko
Sitting about 40 kms (25 miles) from Matsuyama city is Uchiko, a historic town that was built on and sustained by wax and paper production. As a city frozen in time, the buildings here haven’t changed for over a century, when the city was at its most prosperous. Filled with attractions highlighting the city’s history, Uchiko is also home to Uchiko-za, an impressively maintained, full-scale, kabuki theater, which is open most days and still hosts an occasional show.
Take a trip back in time by visiting Garyu Sanso House
Eat a whole lot of mikan
If there’s one thing the prefecture of Ehime is proud of, it’s the production of delicious, sweet, juicy mikan. A kind of Japanese orange-mandarin hybrid, this citrus fruit is so ubiquitous, it’s even the inspiration behind Ehime’s mascot, “Mica” – an adorable half dog, half mikan. You can’t visit the area without trying some of the much loved local produce in both its original form and in the many snack variations. Be warned, mikan flavored coffee, is probably best left on the shelf.
Visit Ehime Kitchen ef
Ride the Iyonada Monogatari train
For a different way to see the area, consider grabbing a ticket to ride the Iyonada Monogatari, a luxury sightseeing train that travels between Matsuyama and Yawatahama. It travels along the Seto Inland Sea and passes through clusters of scenic small towns along the way. What’s so special about this journey is that the locals come out to greet the train as it passes by their backyards. You might see people dressed in costumes, pets dressed in costumes, and children excitedly sprinting alongside the train. It’s a truly unforgettable experience.