Saijo

Saijo city [西条市]

Saijo consists of four municipalities which were combined in 2004: Old Saijo, Toyo, Komatsu, and Tanbara. The total population of Saijo is roughly 114,000. Saijo sits in the Eastern part of Ehime, between Imabari and Niihama. Saijo city prides itself on its delicious spring water, sacred mountains, and exuberant festival.

Websites: http://www.city.saijo.ehime.jp/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saijo,_Ehime

Old Saijo  [伊予西条]

Location / Access / Transport

  • Train: the Yosan Line features both express and local trains stopping at Iyo-Saijo station.
  • Bus: To / From Matsuyama. Hourly buses between Niihama and Matsuyama operated by the Setouchi and Iyotetsu Bus Companies. Fare is 1440 yen (2016).

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Saijo Spring Water - known as uchinuki and is a major source of local pride. Uchinuki can be seen everywhere in the central part of the city, and the ‘Aqua Route’ running through the town area is a popular walking course that allows you to admire the relics of the Saijo Clan domain and the surrounding freshwater fish and flowers.
  • Mt. Ishizuchi – the highest mountain in western Japan and is one of Japan’s seven sacred peaks. With part of the range designated as a quasi-national park, its seasonal beauty and alpine plans make it a welcoming sanctuary for nature-loving visitors. Buses run from Saijo Station to the Ishizuchi ropeway, but the most convenient way to access either the Ropeway Route or Tsuchigoya Route to the peak is by car.
  • Saijo Festival - (October 14th-17th) The biggest event in the city. Come prepared to party! Over 80 danjiris (portable shrines which weigh about 100 kg) take part in a 3-day procession, making their way from local shrines down to the Kamo River for the festival’s grand finale.
  • 88 Temple Pilgrimage - Two of the temples: Maegami-ji and Kichijo-ji.

Dining out

Beer Halls

  • Asahi Brewery and Beer Hall. The Asahi Beer Brewery that serves all of Shikoku. The dining hall offers several all-you-can-eat-and-drink options and has plenty of space for groups. Not cheap, but great for parties. You can also arrange to take an English tour of the brewery. They operate a free shuttle from Saijo Station.

Restaurants

  • Kerun Steakhouse. Excellent steaks from a restaurant that has been serving Saijo for over 25 years. Can be quite expensive, but the chef cooks your meal on a large grill right in front of you for an awesome experience. They also offer a good weekday lunch set for around 800 yen.
  • Doudeshou. An izakaya popular with JETs and eikaiwa teachers. The owners are friendly and speak limited English. Wednesdays are half-price beer nights.
  • Route 13 restaurants. Route 13 (also known as the Sangyo-doro) is where the majority of chain restaurants in Saijo are located, including Mos Burger, Sushi-ro/Kurazushi (kaiten or “conveyer belt” sushi), Coco Ichibanya (Japanese-style curry), and Yoshinoya/Sukiya (gyudon beef bowls).
  • Sobaya Hanazono: This place was originally just a good soba restaurant as the name implies. A few years ago the owner decided he wanted to try making pizza too, and we`re all glad he did. With a nice variety of styles available utilizing a range of cheeses and sauces not easy to find in Japan, it is definitely worth a visit. The soba is really good too!

Cafes

  • Love Crepe. Everyone’s favorite crepe cafe. Located near city hall and Saijo High School. Delicious crepes and lattes prepared by the friendly owner, who can speak some English.
  • Nana Coffee Roaster. Cute café located near the library that serves curry, doria and other light meals with coffee/tea. They are famous for decadent waffles covered with ice cream and fruit. Lunch sets run around 800 yen.

Shopping

Supermarkets

  • The major supermarkets in Saijo are Max Valu, Fuji Grand (a medium-size department store with a large grocery selection), Lamu (often the cheapest prices in town) and Maruyoshi
  • Suitoichi Farmers Market. Famous permanent farmers market next to Saijo High School operated by Japan Agriculture. A wide range of cheap local fruits and vegetables, seafood and other specialty products. Get there early! The bakery next door uses special mochi-based dough.

Books, DVDs and media

  • Tsutaya and Chameleon. DVD/CD/manga rental and used game stores located next to Saijo High School and near Saijo’s 7-11.
  • Geo. Cheaper DVD rentals than Tsutaya, but more expensive used games than Chameleon.
  • Bookoff/Offhouse. Large selection of used books, CDs, manga, DVDs, games, and figurines, as well as a second-hand store next door at Offhouse. Tends to be a bit pricier than other used places. Near Maruyoshi Supermarket and Kanbai Elementary.
  • Haruya/Miyawaki Books. Large bookstores located on Route 13 (also called the Sangyo-doro). Neither has much in the way of English-language books, but both stock JLPT study books.

Miscellaneous

Daiki (hardware), Daiso (100-yen shop) and K’s Denki (electronics) are all located on the Route 13. There is a Don Quixote (everything store), Mister Donut, McDonalds and more on the other side of the eastern bridge (toward Niihama, past the police station and Saiseikai Hospital).

Leisure

  • Saijo Sports Park. Located on the harbor near the Imabari Shipbuilding Cranes, this public sports complex features baseball and track stadiums, martial arts and gym facilities, as well as a small weight room. 100 yen to use the weight room, which is free on Wednesdays. Closed on Mondays.
  • Saijo Public Library. Absolutely gorgeous two-story library completed in 2010. Has a few shelves of English-language books. Events are sometimes held on the lawn of the rear entrance.
  • Parks. The parks running alongside the Kamo River are a great place to get together – the most popular is called Bujo Park (武丈公園). Popular activities include cherry blossom-viewing parties in spring, barbecues in the summer, and potato stew parties known as imotaki in autumn.
  • Mt. Hachido. Near Bujo Park is Hachido-yama (八堂山), a public park located on the slopes of a small mountain featuring plum and cherry blossom groves. Along with a road, there’s a trail that leads to the top marked by a red torii gate visible from the Kamo River. The large, lonely building on the hillside that can be seen from all over town is Saijo’s Archaeological History Museum.

Nightlife

Karaoke

  • Suito. Booth style karaoke located near the Iyo Bank-Circle K intersection at the center of town. Also features a pool hall.
  • 18-ban (juuhachiban). The cheaper, seedier, inevitably more popular alternative to Suito. Located at the heart of the drinking street near the station.

Bars

  • The Nomiyagai, or drinking street, near the station hosts numerous shot, snack, and hostess bars and izakayas.

Komatsu [小松]

Komatsu is a town in the foothills of the Ishizuchi Mountains with a population of about 10,000.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Train: Komatsu’s station is Iyo-Komatsu Station (伊予小松駅), which is only served by local trains on the Yosan Line. If you are coming by express, you will need to change to a local train at either Iyo-Saijo Station (coming from Takamatsu) or Nyugawa Station (coming from Matsuyama).
  • Bus: The Setouchi and Iyotetsu Buses between Niihama and Matsuyama stop in front of the Komatsu branch of Saijo City Hall (Komatsu-shisho-mae)

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Yoshino Mochi. One of the Saijo region’s best-known omiyage (souvenirs), these Japanese-style treats can be purchased directly from the maker, Meshiya Kaho (めしや菓舗), located near the library and community center.
  • 88 Temple Pilgrimage – #60 Yokomine-ji (横峰寺) – The only pilgrimage temple in the Saijo area not located near Route 11, Yokomine-ji is notoriously one of the hardest of the 88 to reach on foot. Located deep in the mountains at an elevation of over 700 meters, this temple can be accessed by an expensive toll road, by bus, or by one of two strenuous trails leaving from the Komatsu area. The nearby Hoshigamori (星ヶ森) offers a famous view of Mt. Ishizuchi.
    #61 Koon-ji (香園寺) – Massive and surprisingly modern temple that’s about a 10-minute walk from Iyo-Komatsu Station.
    #62 Hoju-ji (宝寿寺) – Located next to Komatsu Station.

Dining Out

  • Marubun. An excellent Italian place located directly in front of the station. One of the most popular restaurants in the Saijo area. Known for its pasta, whereas its sister restaurant in Niihama is known for pizza.
  • Azumaya. Modern izakaya with great food and atmosphere located near
    Marubun and the station.

Shopping

  • Yama-san. The biggest supermarket in town. Start your shopping here!

Leisure

  • Ishizuchi Highway Oasis. Large complex alongside the Matsuyama Expressway featuring a restaurant, gallery space, camping facilities and a 400 yen hot spring overlooking the city (Tsubaki Onsen).
  • Komatsu Onpo Library. A cozy library located next to the Komatsu Community Center (walk straight for a few blocks after exiting Iyo-Komatsu Station). The community center hosts numerous international-themed events every year.

 

Tanbara Town [丹原町]

As a mostly agricultural area, Tanbara features a significant number of fields and rice paddies. Its most notable agricultural products are roses and persimmons.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Train: Take a train to Nyuugawa Station in Toyo. From there you can take a bus into town until around 6 p.m., or a taxi (approx. ¥1100 to the closet area of Tanbara)
  • Bus: To/From Matsuyama. There’s an express bus from Matsuyama that stops at Yuyaguchi in Tanbara, from there you can take a bus that takes you through Tanbara, and all the way to Nyuugawa Station (as long as it’s before 6 p.m.)

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Nishiyama Koryuji Temple. Has a festival dedicated to momiji (Japanese maple leaves) on the third Sunday of November. It’s one of the best places for viewing momiji in the area, and it is also one of the extra 20 temples of Shikoku’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
  • Kumyoji Temple. Known as a good place for hanami (cherry blossom viewing).
  • Tanbara Sogo Park. A really nice park built on the ruins of Mimigane Castle. There are beautiful panoramic views from the playground area which you can reach by climbing a rope ladder or walking up the path. Facilities include the aforementioned playground, with slides, a zip line, and climbing frames, tennis courts, hiking trails, and a multi-purpose area that can be used for baseball, soccer, etc.
  • Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival). Occurs on August 5-7th. Good way to get out and see the local community,eat some festival food, and see a parade (with dancing!).
  • Tanbara Autumn Festival. Coincides with the bigger Saijo Festival, you can see (and hear) the local shrines’ danjiri (portable shrines) paraded around town.

Dining Out

Easily Accessible

  • Fantasy. For any ALTs living in Tanbara this is the go-to restaurant when you don’t feel like cooking. It’s close, reasonably priced and the proprietor loves to meet new ALTs. Located near Tanbara H.S. and Kamakura Mansion. Hours: 10:30 -10pm, closed Wednesday.
  • Ushiro no shoumen. Easily accessible if you’re at Tanbara Nishi J.H., otherwise it’s a bit out of the way. Lined with cherry trees. Has a salad bar, and lots of deserts. Lunch costs ¥780 and up. Hours: 9 -10 p.m., closed Thursdays.
  • Dandanchakan. Huge selection of teas and mostly Korean and Thai food. The Bibimbap dish is recommended, and the Thai Green Curry is also very good. Owner speaks a bit of English. Closed Sundays.
  • Souen. It’s nice and close, has a set lunch for ¥680 as well as other menu items. Closed Sundays.

Further Afield

  • Café Gojinya. Small café located in a traditional Japanese building that apparently used to be a hospital. There are only a few tables available, and the lunch is a set menu, but it has some of the best-tasting food in Tanbara, as well as a selection of delicious freshly-baked cakes. Located: Down the road from Tokuda E.S., has red banners in front. Hours: 11am-5pm, Thurs-Sun.
  • Café Lamp. The fashionable café of Tanbara located in a refurbished warehouse. A lot of Italian food and the best espresso in Tanbara. Dinner is from 6pm, and a reservation may be needed. Located in Kurumi, down the road from Ushiro no Shoumen Hours: 11:30 -9 p.m.
  • La Blanche. A French restaurant in Tanbara, they use seasonal ingredients and the menu changes every day. You need to make a reservation at least a day in advance. It is however, not cheap, their full course meal can run ¥5,000 – ¥15,000 and lunch is about ¥3,000 – ¥3,500. Located in Kurumi, near Tanbara Nishi J.H. Hours: 11:30-2 (lunch), 6-10pm (dinner)

Shopping

Supermarkets

  • Kimura Chain.
  • Yamasan.
  • Toshoku. Small corner store across from the bakery.
  • Shu-chan Hiroba. The largest permanent farmers market in Saijo. Features fresh local produce, fish, and many other products. Get there early!

Miscellaneous

  • Shaved Ice. During the summer a shaved ice shop opens up a few doors down from Toshoku.
  • Bike Shop. There is a bike shop along Tanbara’s main road  where you can fill up your bike tires for free. If you smile nicely at the owner, he may also give you a bag of persimmons when they come into season, whether you want them or not.

 

Toyo and Nyugawa Station [壬生川]

Location / Access / Transport

  • Train: There are regular trains (local and express) and buses from Matsuyama to Toyo. The station name for Toyo is Nyugawa (壬生川).
  • Ferry: Toyo Port is a major gateway for the region and overnight ferries for Osaka depart from here.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Okagen Matsuri. Toyo’s firework festival in July. Held near the port, with plenty of excellent food and drinks available from street-side vendors.
  • Tateboshi-ami: Join intrepid fishers from all over Toyo as they rush into the ocean to catch as many of the 16000 fish (tai, hamachi, etc.) and 1.6 tons of clams that the city releases into shallow netted-off coastline as they can. Held annually in late May on the Kawarazu Coastline (Google Maps: 西条市 河原津海岸). Cost: 1500 yen (net and gloves included)

Dining Out

  • Yakiniku Go-en. It’s hard to beat the combination of yakiniku and 200 yen beer!
  • Torikko. Awesome izakaya restaurant with a fluent English speaking chef! A 10-minute walk down the road directly opposite Nyuugawa station on the right hand side.
  • 88 Udon. On the main street of Toyo, about 5 minutes walk (west) from the Toyo branch of Saijo City Hall. They serve the cheapest, most delicious udon in town.
  • Issei Yakitori. The oldest and possibly most famous restaurant in town. This restaurant is owned and operated by an incredibly kind-hearted family that has been looking after Toyo JETs for the last 25 years. The food is absolutely amazing but the service is even better.

Shopping

Numerous grocery stores, pharmacies, electronics stores, bookstores and DVD rental places are located around Nyugawa Station and the Saijo City Hall Toyo Branch.

Leisure

  • Toyo Sports Park. Toyo’s public sports park has many of the same facilities as the sports park in Saijo, but is much newer. Also features an indoor field and skate park. The baseball stadium here hosts the Ehime Mandarin Pirates minor league team several times during the summer and fall months.
  • Toyo Public Library. Popular old library with a local history museum, art exhibition space and horseshoe crab exhibit attached. They occasionally offer crafts activities such as traditional paper-making. Located next to Saijo’s largest community center and down the street from the Toyo branch of Saijo City Hall.
  • Toyo Onsen and Spa. Expansive hot spring featuring numerous baths and doubling as a hotel, with private rooms for couples and families. The basic hot spring fee is 550 yen for adults.
  • Hyotan Pond. Renowned as one of the best cherry blossom-viewing spots in all of Saijo.

Nightlife

Karaoke

  • Toyo has karaoke and arcades, as well as a 24-hour Funky Time internet café with billiards, darts, karaoke, and games

Bars

  • Ing. A shot bar that looks a lot like a garage both outside and inside. Also not far from Nyugawa Station. Features darts and a pool table. The owner is into extreme sports.

 

One thought on “Saijo

  1. Ah, we need change
    Tsutaya and Chameleon. DVD/CD/manga rental and used game stores located next to Saijo High School and near Saijo’s 7-11.

    to just
    Tsutaya DVD/CD/manga rental located next to Saijo High School and near Saijo’s 7-11.

    As poor old Chameleon club is gone now….

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