Ainan Town [愛南町]
Ainan is located in the southern most part of Ehime (bordering Kochi). The town has a population of around 23,000. The area is famous for katsuo (bonito), pearls and mikan. Ainan is a great place to be outdoors; there are many good hikes and great spots to swim, snorkel, kayak, fish, or windsurf. Although the town is well provided for in terms of facilities, Ainan is one of the more rural placements in Ehime and has suffered notable depopulation in recent years. Transport links are frequent and reliable, however Ainan’s position at almost four hours south of Matsuyama makes it something of an isolated spot (but a beautiful one!) within the prefecture.
Location / Access / Transport
- Train: nearest JR stop is 45 minutes’ drive/bus ride away in Uwajima.
- Bus: To/From Matsuyama – 3.5 hours (2000 yen). To/From Uwajima (1650 yen).
To/From Osaka – night bus available from the Johen Bus Center.
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Obon festival – when family members from all over Japan return to their hometowns to remember the souls of the dead.
- Autumn festivals – found in every town when the leaves start to turn.
- Spring Fish Festival – part of the beach is netted off, fish and seafood are planted in this area, and hundreds of people barrel into the water with a net, hoping to catch anything!
- Ainan Triathlon – everyJune in Nishiumi.
- Fireflies – there are ferries to Kashima from Nishiumi where it is possible to see deer, monkeys, and fireflies. Fireflies are most abundant in early June and can also be viewed from other spots across Ainan.
- Hanami – Amamori Mountain in Johen has over 1,000 cherry trees and numerous hiking trails.
- Misho / Johen Area
- Bachikoi – izakaya type food – great food, good drinks, and the owner is a nice guy, too!
- Naniwa – reasonable prices, nice atmosphere, traditional Japanese food.
- Roppo – great izakaya style and food. English menu available.
- Nishimura – conveyor belt sushi place, great food.
- Pink Bamboo Blossom – wide variety of good Chinese food.
- Chise – Korean restaurant. 3,500yen for women, 4,000 yen for men gets you all the unlimited meat and drink.
- Je Taime – wonderful cakes and sweets. You can also order a lunch set. Upstairs is a wonderful area to sit, relax and eat. In the winter you can keep warm at your kotatsu.
- Uchiumi Area
- Yurari – Japanese restaurant and onsen. Good food, great set menu for enkais.
- Sapporo Ramen – Mom and Pop ramen chain; wonderful family and good ramen.
- 56ya – this is a wonderful little roadside store run by a very nice couple. They sell ice cream, French fries, ramen, udon, frankfurters, and tako yaki. They also have a small display of Japanese antiques, and if you ask, they will show you more!
- Alpha – pizza and pasta restaurant.
- Fuji supermarket – located in Johen (with a Daiso conveniently attached).
- A Max – located in Misho: the largest grocery store in the area. It has a variety of things from groceries to hardware and gardening goods.
- Shinbashi – supermarket in Johen.
- Home Improvement – Daiki for general home goods.
- Clothing – Shimamura in Misho.
- Local Goods – MIC sells local produce and omiyage, located off Route 56 in Misho.
- Books, Music, and Gifts
- Takashimaya Gift Shop – good place for small gifts and birthday presents
- Haruya – located in Misho – has a great CD and DVD section, as well as a ton of books (all Japanese)
- Marine Activities – a variety of ocean-oriented activities including snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, whale-watching, deep sea fishing, surfing lessons, glass-bottom boat tours, and scuba diving (need PADI certification).
- Sunokawa Park – a place to rent snorkeling equipment, wet suits, and kayaks. There is beautiful coral right off the beach, a great place for snorkeling! A single kayak is 700 yen for two hours.
- Kashima – an island located off of Nishiumi. To get there take the glass bottom boat out to the island. There is also great snorkeling. But beware of the monkeys!
- Beaches – lots of beaches for lounging and relaxing.
- Onsen – Ainan has three: Yamadashi in Sozu, Yurari in Sunokawa and Akebono in Ipponmatsu.
There are an endless string of hostess bars / snacks, particularly in Johen. Most tend to be very pricey, and you may find yourself roped into singing karaoke to the hostesses/buying her drinks (if you’re a male JET). If you’re out with friends, izakayas are much more preferable.
- Rain – an awesome bar on the Johen street! The bartender will get out his English dictionary to chat with you and bring you blankets.
- Dolphin – located behind Rain, a popular nijikai/sanjikai spot for teachers. Drink wine and eat little pizzas while looking at pictures of dolphins.