Ozu Area

Ozu City, Hijikawa Town and Nagahama Town.

 

Ozu City [大洲市]

Known as the Little Kyoto of Iyo, Ozu is home to traditional sights like its castle and historic district, as well as many modern commodities including a movie theater and plenty of shopping. It encompasses the towns of Ozu, Nagahama, Hijikawa and Kawabe with a combined population of about 48,000.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: Highway 56 runs directly through Ozu.
  • Trains: Ozu has 4 train stations on the main Yosan line (runs through Uchiko). Iyo-Ozu is the main station with both local and express trains. Niiya, Nishi Ozu and Hirano stations for local trains only.  6 local stations in Ozu on the Yosan line that runs through Nagahama. Nagahama and Iyo-Shirataki stations serve special sightseeing trains on weekends.
  • Bus: Ozu is well connected to other cities through its bus routes. It also has buses that run within the city.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Ozu Castle - a beautiful traditional castle originally built in 1331; the original was destroyed but fantastically reconstructed. Entrance fee 500 yen.
  • Ozu Shrine - tucked into a forested corner overlooking the city and the Hijikawa River.
  • Ohanahan Street - the setting for a drama held in the 1960’s, and features several old buildings as well as a nice moat with koi fish.
  • Flower viewing - a huge flower field under the bright red bridge on the way into Nagahama that boasts beautiful flowers during different seasons throughout the year.
  • Ozu Candle Light Festival – held in early March, featuring lanterns and candles placed in cups decorated by all the children of Ozu. There is live music, food vendors, and a fireworks display.
  • Hotaru Festival - a weekend firefly festival held in early June in the towns of Yanagisawa and Tadokoro.
  • Hiji Festival – in mid-July. This festival celebrates the heroine Hiji, who sacrificed herself to the river dragon god to stop the flooding of her town.
  • Ozu Yosakoi Festival - last Sunday of August. Amazing traditional dance teams compete from all over Japan.
  • Ukai (Cormorant Fishing) -available from June 1st – September 20th. This is an ancient and unique method of river fishing that takes place on the Hiji river running through Ozu. After sunset, Cormorant fishermen dressed in traditional garments handle 5-6 cormorants (a kind of bird). The cormorants dive and catch fish for the fisherman.

Dining Out

  • Italian
    • Locale - delicious Italian-style quesadillas! Located across the street from Fuji Grand. A more expensive dining choice.
    • Duet - located on route 56, across from Best Denki
    • Kensaku - near Ozu Station
  • Japanese
    • Weckers - an okonomiyaki restaurant located in Niiya
    • Marugame Udon - located on the corner by the Fukushi Center on Route 56. Quick, cheap and tasty
    • Aburaya - offers food made with locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant itself has a very wonderful atmosphere with its beautiful wooden decor.
  • Chinese
    • Hana Hana - across the street from Locale, near Fuji Grand
    • Ne Ne – distinguishable by its bright red decorations around the door
  • Cafes
    • Ra Ri Ru Re Ro - near the BOE and Ozu Castle. The people that work there are all amazing dancers and super friendly! Delicious cakes.
    • Roy’s - picturesque nostalgic interior, exquisite coffee and dessert. Great lunch and dinner menu, too. Sometimes has live jazz shows.
    • Café Nueue - cute café that also sells European antiques and a few imported goods. Features nice bagel sandwiches, and the staff there are very friendly.

Shopping

Supermarkets
  • Central Ozu - Fuji Grand, Fresh Value
  • Higashi Ozu - Marunaka, Kimura Chain, Lamus, Ozu Messe, Direx
  • Nishi Ozu - Shoppers
Clothing
  • Uniqlo - stocks some western sizes, but they are usually only slightly bigger than Japanese sizes.
  • Shimamura – cheap prices, mostly women’s clothing and accessories, although there is a men’s section. Carries larger shoe sizes and has a limited plus size section.
Home Improvement
  • Daiki - kitchen appliances, home furnishings, garden, home repair, camping, and other misc. items.
  • Nitori - Ikea-esque home goods store (but much smaller!). Slightly pricier than Daiki but with better selections and designs.
  • Komeri - similar to Daiki.
Department Stores
  • Fuji Grand - full grocery store, liquor store, bakery, florist, bookstore, travel agency, hair stylist, clothing, household, cosmetics, shoes, toys, etc. There is an arcade with purikura on the fourth floor.
  • Ozu Messe - a huge shopping center located along highway 56, carries groceries (A-coop), clothes, garden, floral décor, and some furniture.

Leisure

  • Cinema Sunshine - movie theater located along Route 56 across the street from Uniqlo. Discount tickets available for ladies every Wednesday, and for everyone on 1st and 15th each month.
  • Arcades - one can be found on the 4th floor of Fuji Grand; another located next to the Sakura coffee shop behind the Docomo.
  • Onsen - Garyu no Yu is an onsen located near the Machi no Eki – it boasts a beautiful Japanese garden as well. There is also Oyu Hijikawa Onsen in Hijikawa.
  • Gym - a huge building located right next to the Circle K and near Kita elementary school. It has a weight room on the ground floor with machines and barbells that you can use for 150 yen per visit. You can also sign up for several classes at the front desk (volleyball, basketball, table tennis, badminton, kendo, yoga, aerobics, archery, etc.)

Nightlife

  • Louis’ - one of Ozu’s best bars! A blues bar going on 26 years in business where live gigs are held on a monthly basis. A great place to just kick back and eat great food (try the BLT).
  • Madd Happy Ink - tattoo parlor by day, bar by night! The owner is very friendly and happy to talk with ALTs. The prices are reasonable and they recently introduced an extensive hamburger menu. Sometimes there are DJ events.
  • 39 – a nice chill place to go and has decent sized tables if you want to go with a bigger group. There is also a huge TV which they use to show sports games and such.
  • Liverpool – a Live House that features live music about once a month.
  • Bang Bang – karaoke. Good prices and a nice drink bar included.

 

Kawabe Village [河辺村]

Kawabe is a small village just south of Ozu with a population of around 1,200. Nestled in the mountains of western Ehime, it’s known affectionately as a place where visitors “lose track of time.”

Location / Access / Transport

  • Bus: to Hijikawa- 3 buses daily Monday – Friday. No service on Sunday. Buses to Ozu are also available.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • The Eight Covered Bridges - Kawabe is famous for its bridges. The nicest ones are Miyuki-bashi (built over 80 years ago) and Ryuoubashi located in Kawabe Furusato Park.
  • Sanhaidani Waterfall – located up the road toward Ikazaki and Oda.  A little difficult to find so it is best to ask someone for directions.
  • Summer Festival - second week of August. A small festival with singing, dancing and fireworks – great way to meet the locals!
  • Saitaniya - a ryokan located near the park. For 3,200yen per person, you can rent the house for a night and enjoy the irori, a traditional open fireplace.

Dining Out

  • Ku-chan - the menu is limited and it serves food mainly at lunchtime. Head over in the evening for karaoke and beer, but watch the time since it often closes around 7 or 8pm.

Hijikawa Town [肱川町]

A small town located in the mountains of Ozu, Hijikawa is home to about 2,500 people and the Hiji River. “A kind breeze to welcome you, your hometown: Hijikawa.”

Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: 30 minutes drive from Ozu and 25 minutes from Uchiko.
  • Bus: to Ozu – 40 minutes (740 yen). Runs four times a day.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Oyabu Gorge - head through the red tori and up the mountain a bit – it’s a picturesque spot for a short hike.
  • Kanogawa Lake - a beautiful lake created by the dam in Hijikawa. There are walking paths around the lake and an annual dragon boat race the first Sunday in August.
  • Maruyama Park - a very nice park located above Kanogawa Lake, and one of the best spots for viewing sakura in the spring.
  • Hijikawa Wind Museum - located up past Maruyama Park and is the site of the Hijikawa Fureai Festival in November. People come from all over for the performances, a janken tournament, and a free drawing for some awesome prizes.
  • Brewery - Hijikawa has its own sake brewery named Kaze no Sato. It has existed for approximately 90 years.

Dining Out

  • Ajito - located at Michi-no-eki; has karaoke and Japanese fast food
  • Hananomori - Chinese restaurant located at Michi-no-eki
  • Fukase - donburi restaurant located in an old building past the Shell. Fabulous oyako-don!
  • Arirang - Korean barbeque. Located at the Michi-no-eki
  • Kanogawaso - has a restaurant and facilities for enkais.

Shopping

  • A-Coop - a small grocery store located in the town center;
  • Michi-no-eki - grocery store located on the main highway; it has a great produce stand and a good omiyage shop, as well as some delicious yakitori! It’s run by the friendly Ninomiya family.

Leisure

  • Onsen – There are two well known hot springs in Hijikawa – Oyabu and Kanogawa (near the main highway). Kanogawa is on the 56. Oyabu is through the giant red tori gate and up the mountain.

 

Nagahama Town [長浜町]

Nagahama is a small town located on the coast where the Hijikawa River meets the Seto Inland Sea. Most of its 9,000 residents are involved in the concrete, fishing or agricultural industries. Come check out the student-run Nagahama Aquarium with fish from all across Japan!

Location / Access / Transport

  • Train: To/From Matsuyama - 1 hour by local train, 1 hour 20 minutes if you pass through Iyo. To/From Ozu - 30 minutes.
  • Car: The coastal road (Route 237) branches off from Route 56 in Iyo and connects Nagahama with Futami, Honai and Yawatahama to the south.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Akabashi - complete with bullet holes from WWII, Nagahama’s red drawbridge is the oldest functioning drawbridge in Shikoku. It is opened every Sunday at 1 PM.
  • Hijikawa Arashi - a very cool sight in winter! In the morning, strong winds blow water vapor rising off the river into large, thick clouds that hang low to the ground and blot out the view of the other side of the river.
  • Summer Fireworks Festival - a classic small-town festival located on the bank of the Hijikawa right near the red bridge. The fireworks are great and the food stalls are run by local merchants.
  • Shirataki - there is an annual festival called Momiji Matsuri in the autumn celebrating the beautiful maple trees that grow around the waterfall. During Rurihime Matsuri local children dress up in historical costumes and throw flowers from the top of the waterfall in remembrance of Princess Ruri’s suicide.
  • Illumination - every Christmas, the Yamato and Toyoshige areas of Nagahama construct elaborate, community-wide light displays featuring characters and messages of hope for the new year.
  • Nagahama Aquarium - Nagahama High School has a renowned aquarium run entirely by students, housing fish collected by the students in Okinawa, the Seto Inland Sea area and other places around Japan.

 

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