There are four main islands in Japan: Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Shikoku ( 四国 = Four Countries ) is the smallest of the four. It is considered to be the forgotten island among the four. People rarely go to Shikoku. Guide books don't bother mentioning about this island. Even my friend questioning my decision to go to this island.
Let me tell you that Shikoku is Japan's hidden gem. There are lots of thing to do here. Some of them are pretty wild, but if you like outdoor, nature, adventures, and willing to spend some time to venture into the inner part of this place, you will be rewarded with amazing scenic views, natural beauty untouched by human.
I only had a few days off to enjoy the island, but I definitely want to go back to Shikoku again.
I will split the Shikoku review into separated posts, starting from Matsuyama.
To go to Matsuyama, I took a Willer Express night bus. You could also take Shinkansen or plane to go to Shikoku.
Willer Express Bus Gate
Arrived in Matsuyama in the morning.
Matsuyama is the largest city on Shikoku and the capital of Ehime Prefecture. You could spend one day enjoying what the city has to offer.
The main transportation here is the city train (tram).
The train ticket costs 150 yen per ride. You could buy a one day ticket for 400 yen.
There is a special small-gauge steam locomotive here called Botchan Train. The Botchan Train was the first small sized locomotive in Japan and it was imported from Krauss & Company in Munich. The train ran on the Matsuyama Plains for 67 years through Meiji, Taisho, and Showa Eras.
Soseki Natsume, a world-renowned Japanese novelist, often used the railway for commuting. His famous novel "Botchan" was published in 1906 and uniquely depicted the railway and the Dogo Onsen. The train enjoyed the popularity of the novel and was given the name "Botchan Train" or "Botchan Ressha". The current Botchan Train is a diesel-powered replica of the original Botchan Train.
Inside Botchan Train. It costs 300 yen per ride.
Orange flavor Ice Cream. Ehime Prefecture is well known as the leading producer of oranges in Japan. There are lots of Orange flavor products that you could enjoy here.
Goshiki Soumen (五色そうめん). Goshiki Soumen is a five colored noodles. It is colored using natural substances: yellow from eggs, green from powdered green tea, brown from buckwheat flour, red from plums and shiso (type of culinary herb), and white. There is also Tai Soumen (sea bream noodles) that you should try.
Dogo Onsen, one of the oldest onsen hot springs in Japan, with a history stretching back over 1,000 years. The main building in the movie Spirited Away was modeled on the present building of the Dōgo Onsen public bathhouse.
On the left side is the Botchan Karakuri Clock. Characters from novel Botchan will appear to the tune of melody from the Botchan Karakuri Clock.
On the right side is Ashi-yu. It is a hot foot bath which can be freely used.
There are still a few places in Matsuyama that I would like to cover, but I will cover it on the next posts.