Ehime Japan Shikoku Travel

Day 35: Matsuyama

After an uneventful night camping in Jōnofuchi Park I woke early, packed and headed to a nearby combini for a simple breakfast (bread, milk, and a banana).

Rice field reflections



The morning was spent temple hopping 8km along local roads from Jōdo-ji (浄土寺 – 49) to Hanta-ji (繁多寺 50) and finally Ishite-ji (石手寺 – 51).


Ishite-ji was interesting, if only for the fact that it felt like some sort of Buddhist Disney World, with gaudy trinkets and lucky charms for sale all over the place.

Ishite-ji lanterns

To be honest, it felt like whoever runs the temple is trying to make a quick buck off overly superstitious people. Apparently, it also has suspect political affiliations.

Tunnel at Ishite-ji

Behind the main hall, you can walk through a long tunnel running through the hill containing 88 statues of the Jizō Buddha.

Dōgo Onsen

After crossing over the top the hill you reach Matsuyama City (松山市), the capital of Ehime Prefecture, and are almost immediately at the historic Dōgo Onsen (道後温泉).

Dōgo Onsen Entrance

Dōgo Onsen is one of the oldest onsen hot springs in Japan, with a history stretching back over 1,000 years. Despite being a natural cultural treasure it’s still open as a public bathhouse.

Dōgo Onsen Emperors Rooms

Inside Dōgo Onsen

Whilst I didn’t join the throngs of tourists using the baths, I did take a look around a suite of rooms reserved exclusively for the emperor (although have only ever been used a handful of times).

Dōgo Onsen Blinds

Surrounded by the modern city, the onsen looks like an island drifting through time but never quite keeping pace with it. If it looks familiar it might be because the main building in the movie Spirited Away was modelled on it!

My accommodation for tonight, Sen Guesthouse, is a short walk from Dōgo Onsen so I headed there next and dropped my bags. Run by a Japanese-American couple, it’s a really nice place with good facilities.


I had lunch at SOHSOH, a restaurant offering modern Japanese cuisine that was recommended to me by Matt, one of the guesthouse proprietors. The meal was excellent.

Matsuyama Tram

Matsuyama Castle

Full and feeling in good spirits I took the tram 15 minutes to Matsuyama Castle (松山城) and walked the short distance up to the enclosed bailey.

Matsuyama Castle View

Matsuyama Castle

With bright clean skies, there was a stunning view of the city from the top and a pretty interesting museum within the castle keep.

Matsuyama Castle

View from Matsuyama Castle

The castle was originally built in 1603 but destroyed by lightning in 1784. After being rebuilt it was also damaged by bombing during World War II but has been almost entirely restored now.

Late afternoon I headed back the guesthouse and uploaded my photos over the fast wifi while getting my washing done. Tom, who I met near temple 45, arrived and we caught up on the previous few days.

Sunset from Sen Guesthouse

Shortly after 7pm, there was a beautiful sunset over the city and I reflected on how Matsuyama seems to have managed to retain some of its old charms while incorporating modern conveniences. Seems like a nice spot to live.

I’m planning an early start tomorrow since rain is forecast from noon. Wish me luck!


Distance walked: 22 km / 30,500 steps
Temples visited: 49–51
Overnight lodgings: Sen Guest House (泉ゲストハウス) – Guest House

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Originally from the UK, David is designer and wanderer currently based in Kamakura. Prior to this, he lived in China and still returns frequently to continue exploring this vast and varied land. He started Randomwire in 2003 to chronicle his travels and occasional musings. Feel free to drop him a line.

5 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Mo says:

    Love the castle photos! Every time I see a photo like that I can’t help but imagine an invading army besieging the walls. I’ll be staying at Sen GH on my henro, looking forward to it.

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