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88 sacred Temples of Shikoku

Matsuyama is reknowned for both its magnificent castle Matsuyama-jo, which stands in the centre of this busy north coast port. The castle was built in 1603 and remains one of the best preserved in Japan. It is equally famed for its hot onsen spas 2km to the east- Dogo-koen. The western part of Shikoku is dominated by the city of Matsuyama in the north of Ehime Prefecture

View of Matsuyama-jo

Matsuyama is probably the best choice for travellers with little time as it offers the most variety. Although the castle has undergone extensive recent refurbishment it still remains as one of Japan’s most impressive. Views across the inland sea are stunning and the ascent can be made by chairlift or cable car.

Several attractive temples (Shinonome-jina being the foremost of these) are in this region as well as an interesting museum (Shiki Memorial Museum) and house dedicated to the memory of Shiki Masaoka - oine of the most revered of the haiku poets. (Matsuyama claims to be capital of this artform).

Dogo Onsen Honkan is the place where locals have been coming for centuries to wallow in the alkaline springs - in fact many claim this onsen to be the oldest in Japan. Enjoy a ’basic’ soak in the Kamino-yu (Water of the Gods) for about Â¥300 and about the same again if you want to relax in the public rooms afterwards. For the full experience head for Tamano-yu (Water of the Spirits) which is less crowded. Again prices differ according to the service available. Put briefly, the more you pay the higher the level of exclusivity and the less crowded the baths and changing rooms.

This spring is one of the oldest and one of the most popular in Japan. The Shinrokaku bathhouse, part of which is reserved for the Imperial family, dates from 1894.                                                                              

Like many onsen resorts Dogo has its seedier side. However the traveller would be well advised to brave the strip shows and ’adult’ shops of the area in order to gain the truly wonderful onsen experience.

Various other onsen baths exist ply their trade in Dogo, while many of the best ryokan have their own baths, some of which are open to non-residents. The truly adventurous may wish to head for Oku Dogo in the hills northeast of Dogo where can be found the Jungle Onsen - 11 outdoor baths set in wonderful surroundings.


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