Matsuyama Japan – Matsuyama is the capital of Ehime Prefecture that is located in Shikoku Island. It’s a city that gained its popularity from being the main setting in a popular novel by Natsume Soseki, “Botchan”. As this novel is required reading for students in Japan, Soseki helped to put Matsuyama on the map and make it a renowned location for Japanese citizens.
The city is best known, however, for having some of the oldest hot springs in all of Japan. One particular wooden location, the Dogo Onsen, dates back to 1894 and was used as a public bathhouse during the Meiji Period. The most famous food products produced in Matsuyama are tarts and Botchan dango.
Here, you’ll find everything you need to know to make your next trip to Matsuyama fun, entertaining, and relaxing.
How to get there?
To get to Matsuyama by train, the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen will get a person as far as Okayama in three and a half hours from Tokyo. After a transfer to the Yosan Line-Limited Express and a two and a half hour ride, visitors will arrive at Matsuyama Station.
As usual, there are highway and night buses available from Tokyo to Matsuyama, and rental cars can also be used and driven the entire 820 kilometer trip. There are also two-hour flights available from Haneda to Matsuyama Airport.
To get to Matsuyama from Osaka, The Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen can be used to get to Okayama, after which the Yosan Line-Limited Express is used to arrive at Matsuyama Station. The entire trip takes around four hours.
Visitors can also take a 4 hour drive across 324 kilometers, or use a highway or night bus to arrive in between five to seven hours. There are flights available from Itami and Kansai Airports to Matsuyama Airport that are about one hour long.
Where to stay?
Guesthouse Matsuyama Japan – Cinnamon Guesthouse Dogo
Offering both female only and mixed dormitory style rooms, Cinnamon Guesthouse Dogo is perfect for travelers on a budget. Guests are free to use the provided kitchen area, free-use kitchenware, and seasonings. A public coin laundromat is within walking distance, and a bar is located on the ground floor.
Why Guests Love It: Guests appreciate the simplicity of the guesthouse, and love how clean and well kept all areas are. Staff are kind and attentive, and the owner is as helpful as can be. The guesthouse is also located less than five-minutes away from the famous Dogo Onsen, which is a plus for tourists who come to Matsuyama just to see the historic building.
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Hotel Matsuyama Japan – Matsuyama Tokyo REI Hotel
Located near many popular attractions and Okaido Tram Station, Matsuyama Tokyu REI Hotel is perfectly positioned for travelers who want to see as much as they can in a day. Guests are given complimentary yukata and slippers upon arrival, and rooms are furnished with flat-screen TVs and free internet. Both Japanese and Western style restaurants provide breakfast buffets to guest, and the 24-hour reception is able to store luggage.
Why Guests Love It: The staff speak excellent English to better communicate with guests, and the rooms are comfortable and well-stocked with amenities. A Starbucks across the street is useful for having a convenient source of caffeine nearby, and many guests say that the location of the hotel is its number one selling point. Overall, great experiences are had at the Matsuyama Tokyo REI Hotel.
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Ryokan Matsuyama Japan – Chaharu Hanare Dogo Yumekura
Located so close to the Dogo Onsen that they share the same water source, Chaharu Hanare Dogo Yumekura is a magnificent ryokan to stay at. There are various options for room styles that guests can choose from, such as Kazean, Rakuan, Tsukian, Yumean, and Bettei Yukiya Types. Meals are included in the price, and the food is as delicious as it is beautiful. Don’t miss the lovely onsen of the Ryokan!
Why Guests Love It: Guests enjoy the heightened experience of this ryokan along with the use of private baths. Each of the guest rooms has a view of the Main Building, which features Japanese architecture and is intriguing to look at. The grounds surrounding the ryokan are also appealing to view from the comfort of spacious, well furnished, and fully stocked rooms.
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Things to do in Matsuyama Japan #1: Matsuyama Castle
Matsuyama Castle is a 17th-century castle that was restored to its former glory and can be easily accessed by use of a cable car, chairlift, or by simply trekking the long road up the mountain by foot. A lovely park surrounds the castle, providing a beautiful view of the surrounding areas and the entirety of Matsuyama City.
The castle itself if filled with historical artifacts to preserve the history of the items as well as tell the stories of the individuals from past eras. Even those who aren’t big fans of history will enjoy perusing through the castle to view translated descriptions of items and people. For the price of 500 yen, visitors can explore the interior of the castle and enjoy a relaxing cable car ride to and from the grounds.
Things to do in Matsuyama Japan #2: Matsuyama Shiroyama National Park
Known best for the beautiful cherry trees that blossom every year without fail, Shiroyama Park is a great place to take in the true beauty of Japanese nature. The park is well maintained and always clean, and most tourists find it easy to navigate. If you found your way to Matsuyama Castle, then you’ve managed to find Shiroyama Park as well; the park sits within the moat of the castle.
As mentioned before, Shiroyama Park is well known due to the beautiful blossoms seen every year from the cherry trees. The flowers begin to bloom in early April, and are in full bloom in late March. Overall, Shiroyama Park is a place people come back to time and time again.
Things to do in Matsuyama Japan #3: Matsuyamajo Ropeway
If you miss one lift’s departure, don’t worry; the lifts only take five minutes to reach the other side, meaning you only have to wait 10 minutes for another to arrive. Many people enjoy the calm ascent and descent of the ropeway, and often ride more than once each way. As the lift takes passengers to the top of the mountain where Matsuyama Castle is located, many are thankful for the assistance in getting to the historic location while enjoying the view on the city. You can also take the chairlift if you don’t have fear of heights.
Things to do in Matsuyama #4: Dogo Onsen
Dogo Onsen is one of the oldest onsen in Japan, and the waters of this hot spring location have been running for well over thousands of years. Not only is this location great for taking a dip in the hot, healing waters of the hot spring, but it’s also a great spot to learn about Japanese history.
The onsen features amenities used by imperial families in Japan, giving each guest a sense of a special connection to the past. Along with the learning and relaxing experiences, Dogo Onsen also provides amazing views that can be enjoyed inside and out of the building. Popular year-round, expect a bit of a wait to use the facilities during peak seasons for travel.
Things to do in Matsuyama Japan #5: Yu Shrine
Located near Dogo Onsen, Yu Shrine is a great place to visit after relaxing in the hot spring baths and clearing your mind. You can even see Matsuyama Castle from on top of the hill, showing just how close the shrine is to all the important places to visit.
Even though Yu Shrine is located in the center of the city, it remains to be a quiet place of contemplation and prayer. The busiest times to visit are in the summer and around New Year’s, so plan accordingly to beat the rush.
Things to do in Matsuyama Japan #6: Dogo Park
Located close by to Dogo Onsen, Dogo Park is a great place to unwind and relax after a long day of travel. There are various signs around the area to give visitors a taste of Japanese history, as well as places for children to play and enjoy themselves. Walking trails are plentiful, and moats filled with koi fish and turtles are fun to watch.
The park is enjoyable throughout the entire year, as the changing foliage adds another layer of entertainment to visiting the area. Along with the views that can be seen from the observation point, the park also showcases the Yuzuki Castle Ruins as well as a well-made replica of a samurai compound.
Things to do in Matsuyama Japan #7: Shiki Memorial Museum
Almost everyone around the world knows of the Japanese style of poetry known as a haiku. What many do not know, however, is that the writer who modernized haiku poetry (as well as tanka poetry) was born and raised in Matsuyama. The Shiki Memorial Museum pays tribute and encapsulates the history of Masoaka Shiki while also showcasing the history of Matsuyama itself.
For writers, poets, and lovers of art, this museum is an excellent spot to learn all about Japanese poetry and the person who made the two most successful forms of Japanese poetry what they are today.
Things to do in Matsuyama #8: Ishiteji Temple
There are seven unique structures found within the temple that have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. As such, many people are eager to view such items as well as the temple itself. Tourists have reported saying that some areas of the temple are ‘creepy’ to travel through, and give off an interesting vibe or aura.
The temple is relatively close to Dogo Onsen, and can be reached by foot without too much hassle. The temple can become increasingly crowded during the busy seasons, though people are eager to move along to view as much of the temple as possible and not remain still for more than a moment or two.
It’s also important to know that Ishiteji temple is the 51st temple (0n 88) of the Shikoku Pilgrimage so you may see many pilgrims there.
Things to do in Matsuyama Japan #9: Tobe Zoo
Showcasing over 765 animals and about 163 different species, the Tobe Zoo has a great balance of animals from different geographies, taxonomies, and ethologies. There are separate zones of animals divided into 10 streets that visitors can walk through. Various events are held throughout the day where guests can interact with the animals up close and personal.
The zoo is an excellent place to go to with younger travelers, though it’s sure to entertain visitors of all ages.
Things to do in Matsuyama Japan #10: Bansuiso
Built almost a century ago, Bansuiso remains a historical landmark in Matsuyama for housing Eisaku Hisamatsu, a decendant of the former Matsuyama lord. Many remark that seeing a French style mansion in Japan is a pleasing oddity, and the exhibits that are displayed inside change throughout the year.
There are several places of interest surrounding the building, including a small, elegant cafe called Soseki that keeps guests refreshed and rejuvenated. At certain times in the year, guests can be treated to concerts held in the salon on the first floor.
All of the wonderful attractions in Matsuyama only help to improve the city’s image in the minds of both travelers and locals. It’s not hard to find an interesting place to visit or wonderful sight to see, though because of the superb accommodations in the city, some travelers might not want to leave the comfort of their rooms.
Regardless of how you prefer to spend your visit in Matsuyama, you can rest assured knowing that there’s almost certainly something in the city that will spark your interest. After all, Matsuyama impressed a famous novelist enough to integrate it into a work that’s read all over the country. Surely a city with such power is worth visiting at least once.
PS: For more tips about Japan, feel free to check these articles too: Japan Travel Blog