Seiyo Area

Located smack dab between Ozu and Uwajima, Seiyo is made up of the towns of Uwa, Mikame, Shirokawa, Nomura, and Akehama and has a population of 42,000. The Seiyo area is most famous for its spring Renge Festival held in the town of Uwa. If you only get to Seiyo once during your time in Japan, make it April 29th! While you’re wandering through the dry rice patties eating matsuri food, checking out dance performances from traditional to R&B, and contemplating bull rides, be sure to stop by their 500kg mammoth made entirely of straw – you can’t miss it!
Website: http://www.city.seiyo.ehime.jp/

Uwa Town [宇和町]

Uwa is the central town in Seiyo, and is home to Museum of Ehime History and Culture and the Renge Festival. Uwa is agricultural and is known for its rice, beans, and soy products.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: Uwa is located on Route 56, between Ozu and Uwajima. There is an entrance/exit to the expressway along Route 29 between Uwa and Nomura.
  • Train: express and local trains stop at Unomachi Station.
  • Bus: services to Matsuyama, Matsuyama Airport, Uwajima, Nomura, Ozu. Overnight buses are available to Osaka/Kobe.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Museum of Ehime History and Culture – permanent and rotating exhibits. English audio sets are available. There is also a folk art museum in the area.
  • Kaimei Gakko - a museum of the oldest elementary school on Shikoku.
  • Renge Matsuri -  in April. Mud soccer, food stalls, dancing, and a giant straw mammoth- a major highlight!
  • Meisekiji Temple - just along the road from the prefectural museum, #43 in the historic Shikoku pilgrimage.

Dining Out

  • Japanese
    • Toyo-ken / Kishihiro - yakiniku restaurants near Unomachi Station.
    • Kikusui - Okonomiyaki restaurant.
    • Kanonsui - Soumen-nagashi restaurant (cold noodles). A must try! Only open from April to September.
    • Maruhide - Kaiten (conveyor-belt) sushi restaurant.
    • Daisuke Udon - a cheap assemble-your-own udon.
  • Italian
    • Daqui - incredibly delicious Italian food featuring fresh handmade pasta and bread.
  • Family restaurants
    • Joyfull - Japanese and Western-style cuisine. Has a picture menu and is open 24 hours.
    • Yuuboku no Sato – good menu, some “western-style” café food with a rustic lodge atmosphere. Lunch prices are reasonable, dinner is pricey. Cakes and coffee are good. Attached to the restaurant is a butcher.
  • Chinese
    • Shanghai-ken
    • Maiko
  • Cafes
    • Café Vert - slightly expensive but has a nice selection of hot drinks and desserts, also offers savory food including bagel sandwiches.
    • Café Repure - very close to Unomachi station. Offers cheap set meals.
    • Kakemushiro - a cute little café in a moss garden. Offers tea and Japanese sweets.

Shopping

Supermarkets
  • Palty Fuji  - located on Route 56 next to a 100-yen shop, Tsutaya (movie/CD rental, and books), The Casual (clothing and homeware), Mr. Donuts and more.
  • Shoppers - located on the road to Nomura. Turn left at the Lawson on Route 56 headed toward Uwajima.
  • Donburikan - located along Route 29 between Uwa and Nomura. Something like a local farmers market with a lot of fresh produce, a few restaurants and gelato.
Miscellaneous
  • Summit – coffee and imported spirits.
  • Yamada Denki – electronics
  • Daiki / Komeri – home goods stores.

Leisure

  • Loop - dart and pool hall located on Route 56.
  • Dolphin - dart and pool hall located near Fisherman’s Bar.
  • Akemma Kasen Park - beautiful park located off of 56 near the river, great for cherry blossom viewing in early spring.
  • Suijyou Golf Course - located off of 56. Have fun hitting golf balls into a lake.

Nightlife

  • Fisherman’s Bar - popular local hangout located near Unomachi Station. Every six weeks or so there is a DJ event. The bartender, Koji, loves to meet new people and will teach you a lot of casual Japanese!
  • Very! - karaoke bar located behind Unomachi Station by the river.
  • Ikedaya - located about a 10-15 minute walk from Unomachi station. Café/gallery/live space. Their website offers a schedule of events.

 

Mikame Town [三瓶町]

Sitting on the coast between Yawatahama to the north and Akehama to the south and with a population of about 9,000, Mikame is a great place to come on a beautiful day. Biking along the coast (Route 376) takes about 2.5 hours but is amazing.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: You can get there by driving along the coastal roads but the quickest paths are either Route 26 from Yawatahama or Route 30 from Uwa.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Shrines and Gardens - drive from the main village north along the coastal road towards Yawatahama, and pass Susaki peninsula. Another shrine past Shimodomari is dedicated to the gods of fish - follow the signs from Minae.
  • Illumination and Tree Lighting - November 20th
  • Gion Festival - July 14th

Dining Out

  • Japanese
    • Noritake - shabu-shabu
    • Ikoi - yakitori (grilled chicken)
    • Izumiya - the really nice chef here serves sushi and other Japanese food
    • Sakawaki - an izakaya with very tasty, cheap food and friendly staff
    • Asanaro - Okonomiyaki restaurant
    • Warabe - Japanese snack bar
  • Chinese
    • Koraku - located behind the JHS
    • Rairaiken - across from the A-coop

Shopping

  • Supermarkets – look for Otani and A-coop
  • Gintengai and Okaido – Mikame has a covered shopping street similar to its larger counterparts in Matsuyama
  • Shiosaikan (Mikame Sea Station) - a central tourist stop located on the main road right on the wharf. Here you can buy local produce, souvenirs, really nice tasting soft-serve ice cream and takoyaki, fried chicken and other tasty foods and snacks.

 

Shirokawa Town [城川町]

Meaning “Castle River”, Shirokawa is a small mountain town with 4,800 residents bordering eastern Kochi. Despite the name, there is no castle in this town! It’s name is actually the result of a combination of the names of the four villages it encompasses. It’s a beautiful area, and the Ryutaku Temple and Shirokawa Geological Museum are must-see attractions.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: Shirokawa is located along Route 197, between Ozu and Kochi. To/From Ozu – 30 minute drive. To/From Uwajima - 40 minute drive.
  • Bus: from Uwajima and Nomura. Available but pretty infrequent.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Gallery Shirokawa - unique display of kamaboko board art. Artists from around the world have donated thousands of decorated boards, making for an interesting display.
  • Hosenbo Onsen – a must-see – the pride of Shirokawa!
  • Ryutakuji Temple - beautiful, particularly in cherry blossom season. The temple itself is over 600 years old and is surrounded by a really nice park. There are cabins you can stay at during the warmer months, and a great (but slightly painful) roller slide.
  • Doronko Matsuri (Mud Festival) - come in July when mud wrestling traditions – passed down in via an old farmer’s story – attract hundreds of photographers from all over Japan!

Dining Out

  • Kuwaterume - a restaurant with ramen, udon, and soba located inside Hosenbo Onsen
  • Kinahaiya - restaurant with ramen, udon, and curry. Big servings. Try the sausages!
  • Baribari - yakiniku restaurant in Takanoko just down the street from Hosenbo
  • Chabotei - mini bar and restaurant that offers local cuisine. Two minutes down Route 197 by car from Hosenbo

Shopping

  • A-coop - the biggest supermarket in Shirokawa, but check out the one in Nomura for a better slection.
  • Michi-no-eki – along Route 197. There is a farmer’s market-style specialty grocer who sells a lot of organic meat and vegetables.
  • Yamazaki – convenience store near Hosenbo in Furuichi.

Leisure

  • Doi Athletic Grounds - a great place to find some walking trails!

Nightlife

  • Marchen – karaoke bar opposite the restaurants. It’s a foreign-friendly place, and also has a cheap and cheerful restaurant with a picture menu.

 

Nomura Town [野村町]

Nomura is a friendly dairy town located between Uwa and Shirokawa on Route 441. It’s famous for sumo, dairy cows, the annual Lake Asagiri half marathon and its 400-year old history of Japanese papermaking (senkashi).

Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: To/From Uwa and Shirokawa - 20-minute drive. To/From Ozu - 45-minute drive along Route 441.
  • Bus: There are buses from Uwa which run from Unomachi Train Station and Uwa Bus Station. Nomura’s bus station is located right in the middle of town.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Otoi Sumo Festival - held annually over two days at the end of November for both child and adult wrestlers. It’s the only sumo tournament in Japan where both amateurs and professionals compete. Kids as young as 6 years old take part and every year two famous sumo wrestlers attend. The sumo stadium, which opened in 2005, was modelled on the one in Tokyo. It also houses a small sumo museum (free entry) and the onsen.
  • Nomura Dam - beautiful in the springtime and early summer. A big summer fireworks festival is held every August. At Christmas time there are illuminations.

Dining Out

  • Japanese
    • Torigoya - yakitori restaurant on the main street
    • Aoi Kei - Ramen shop. Nothing fancy, but cheap (only the Chinese Lunch Set is over 1000 yen)
  • Italian
    • Peppini - in front of the sumo stadium, has pasta and pizza. They also do an all-you-can-eat-and-drink deal
    • White Farm - excellent Japanese-Italian fare including yummy pasta and cakes! They can also cater for large groups

Shopping

  • Supermarkets – Fuji Mart and A-Coop
  • Noble - a very popular bakery on the main street between the two supermarkets – check it out!

Leisure

  • Otoi no Satokaroto Onsen - a beautiful hot spring located inside the Otoi Sumo Stadium. Stop in to relax or get a nice meal!
  • Hiking/Geology Buffs - check out the Shikoku Karst way up on the roof of Shikoku in Onogahara. After making the hike and enjoying the beautiful scenery and geological uniqueness of the area, you can relax by watching the herds of grazing dairy cows that populate the area!
  • Asagiriko Marathon Taikai - races ranging from a few kilometers to a half marathon. This race is said to be one of the hilliest in Ehime – check it out here.

 

Akehama Town [明浜町]

Akehama is a beautiful little coastal town made up of six small communities scattered along the coast. Tawarazu is the largest with a population of about 800 people. Sehama is a little out of the way, but well worth the trek on a fine day! The total population of Akehama is approximately 3,800.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: the easiest way to get to Akehama. Turn off Route 56 just after Uwa if you are heading to Uwajima (before the tunnel). Also accessible on route 378 (the coastal road).
  • Bus: accessible via buses heading to Unomachi Station. Buses from Yoshida or Mikame to Akehama are also available.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Akehama Rekishi Minzoku Shiryo-kan - a folk museum with fishing supplies, pictures, and local tools from the people of Akehama throughout the years.
  • Kappa Matsuri - held on the first Sunday in August every year at Osozu beach featuring food stalls, a beach volley ball tournament, stage performances, and fireworks.
  • Aki Matsuri - held in Takayama, features a large bonfire, shogori (purification by sea water) and lifting Ushi Oni from the sea before parading around town and returning to the water again.
  • Mikan picking – open in November in Tawarazu.

Dining Out

Check out the two restaurants at the Akehama Seaside Park. There are also beautiful log cabins which can be rented out at an affordable price during the winter months. Perfect for nabe parties!

Shopping

Although there isn’t much shopping, Akehama has all the basic necessities – post office, grocery store and bakery.

Leisure

  • Hama Yu - a salt water onsen located on hill directly above Osozu.
  • Osozu - a man-made beach. Opens “officially” every year between the end of July until the end of August.
  • Akehama Seaside Park - located on route 378. Offers ceramics, sea kayaking, and scuba diving.

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