Learn the Japanese feudal history at Matsuyama Castle
Matsuyama Castle is one of the few castles that survived the post-feudal era, meaning that the castle was built before 1868. It is also one of the most interesting castles in the country as it is incredibly complex and certainly one of the most beautiful.
The Matsuyama Castle sits on top of a hill overlooking the city with a tower providing a bird’s-eye view of Matsuyama. There are also over 200 cherry trees on-site making it one of the most beautiful spots in Matsuyama to catch the cherry blossoms blooming every year.
Ride the Botchan Train
If you want a fuller Botchan experience, you can ride the Botchan Train. This sightseeing train is modeled after the steam trains Botchan would have ridden.
The train departs from Dogo Onsen Station and travels to either Matsuyama or Komachi Stations for 800 yen a ride, which is significantly more than the typical 160-yen tram fare. If you ride it, be sure to stay and watch how the conductor turns the train around. Keep in mind that the train can be crowded with long lines, and as it is an old train, it can get very hot in the summer.
Soak your weary limbs at Dogo Onsen
Dogo Onsen is one of Japan’s oldest and most legendary onsens. In medieval and feudal time people from all over would visit Dogo Onsen as it was known as a place of healing. Dogo Onsen is still open to the public to this day and a trip here is a must for anyone visiting Matsuyama.
The bathhouse opened to the public only in 1894 and to this day, the Imperial Family still frequents Dogo Onsen. The interior is a maze of hallways, corridors, and rooms all of which are bustling with staff and guests alike. The onsen is even said to be an inspiration for Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”.
Visit Ishiteji Temple
The Ishiteji temple is a Shingon temple present in Matsuyama. It is the temple 51 on the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage. About seven of its structures have been designated the status of National Treasury. The temple is a bit out of the roadway and is connected with a beautiful museum. The temple is popular for its quiet atmosphere and fine architecture. It is also just at a 15 to 20 minutes from the Dogo Onsen tram stop.
Take a look around the Dogo Giyaman Glass Museum
The Dogo Giyaman Glass Museum is located a few minutes away from Dogo Onsen and is a great stop for antique lovers. In the museum, you can find all kinds of glass from the Edo, Meiji, and Taisho eras. If you are expecting striking glass sculptures, you will be underwhelmed as the contents are mostly home goods like bowls and dishes. Still, there are some beautiful pieces in the collection.
Entrance is ¥600, which is rather steep for a museum that is fairly small, but you can find 10% off coupons at tourist information spots. If you are looking for a place to relax, there is a cafe attached with a lovely view overlooking the pool and garden. Here, you can get full meals or some delicious fruit teas, cakes, or parfaits.