Kumakogen Town and Toon City.
Kumakogen Town [久万高原町]
Kumakogen is a small town known for its forestry industry and abundance of nature. It is the only area of Ehime that consistently sees snow every winter. It has a population of a little over 9,100 spread over the town of Kuma and villages of Mikawa, Omogo, and Yanadani.
Location / Access / Transport
- Car: To/From Matsuyama – 1 hour
- Bus: To/From Matsuyama – 1.5 hours. Buses depart regularly from the JR Station almost every hour (JR Bus, Matsuyama – Ochide)
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Kuma Museum of Art – a small, but impressive museum that houses a rotating/travelling art exhibition that changes every 2-3 months.
- Kuma Obon/Goyoboku Festival – first weekend in August combines an Obon style team dancing competition festival with a fireworks display on Saturday night. The next day teams race down main street while carrying heavy tree trunks to see who can complete the course the fastest.
- Mikawa Summer Festival – a small festival in front of the Mikawa branch of the town office that is famous for its fireworks display over the scenic rock outcropping/BBQ and swimming hole spot of Mimido. The number of fireworks doesn’t approach those of bigger Ehime festivals, but it is unrivaled for the proximity to which the fireworks are to the spectators.
- Ishizuchi Hill Climb – not a climb at all, but a cycle up Mount Ishizuchi. It takes place every year at the end of August. Sign up through the website.
- Kumakogen Hill Climb – another uphill cycling event in late July that cycles up to the old Mikawa Ski Resort.
- Kumakogen Hachiawase Festival – another of Ehime’s shrine battle festivals, but smaller with aspects unique to Kumakogen.
- Kumakogen Rally – an off-road car rally held over golden week. Part of the Japanese Automobile Federation Japanese Rally Championship.
- Furusato Ryoko Mura- The “Hometown Travel Village” is an outdoor museum that has several traditional thatched roof buildings, a mill house, cabins to stay in and even a Japanese castle shaped observatory! Meals and workshops are also sometimes available.
- Kuma Hina Matsuri- The Kuma Doll festival is held from the end of February until the end of April. During the doll festival approximately 15,000 dolls are on display along the main shopping street in town. The dolls are placed in a variety of scenes, anywhere from folk stories to arrangements showing the business of the shop. In the main hall there is a large pyramidal shaped display of an imperial court.
- Tenku no Sato San San (33) – A recently built local market/rest stop with a fantastic all-you-can-eat lunch full of locally grown seasonal dishes and vegetables. There is also a good bakery here. There is also a market to purchase local rice, veggies, and omiyage.
- Kokoro – a famous Kamaage Udon shop that is delicious and amazing value. Only open for lunch, the shop sells hot udon that the customer dips into a cup of broth before slurping up the delicious result. Expect a wait and go ahead and sit at a place with any empty chair.
- Chigusa – a delicious local Izakaya recently rebuilt, known for its yakiniku and extensive lunch menu.
- Kirara Shokudo – a couple runs this lunch restaurant and the food is out of this world. There is a daily lunch special that is always a winner. Dinner by reservation.
- An Cafe – Located across the street from Kirara, a small quaint cafe with standard teishoku sets.
- Maki – a lunch spot renowned for its Chinese Soba. The place gets full quickly and usually sells out of noodles on the weekend.
- Petit Clef (Puti Kurifu) – a tea/coffee shop that makes delicious desserts and also has meals available.
- Denko – a restaurant specializing in set dishes. Open for both lunch and dinner. Recommended: the fried chicken set.
- Gunkan – a restaurant offering an expansive Japanese menu overlooking the majestic rock outcropping/swimming spot of Mimido.
- Umaimonya Doi – this restaurant is much farther down route 33 on the way to Yanadani and Shikoku Karst. They have the normal set fare, but they’re distinguishing feature is their “create your own” brick oven pizzas. They also offer bentos.
- Kuma Café- One of the newer restaurants in town, it is run by a lovely young couple, the owner, a former student in Kuma returned to town after studying Italian cooking and opened his own restaurant.
- Tontaro- The Kuma branch of the ramen chain seen across Ehime. It is one of the first buildings seen when entering the main town in Kumakogen from Matsuyama.
- Mikawa Michi-no-Eki- Near Mikawa middle school, and the Mimido rock (a.k.a battleship rock) offers typical Japanese teishoku meals for a reasonable price. As with any Michi-no-Eki, you can find a variety of local souvenir including fresh Mikawa tea!An- A newer restaurant in the center of town located in the corner of a small building across from Kirara. Meals options are generally half Western and half Japanese.
- Mt. Ishizuchi – two different trails that can take you to the top starting in Kumakogen, one short, relatively easy hike from Tsuchigoya and the more challenging route that starts in Omogo Gorge.
- Temples 44 and 45 of the Shikoku 88 – Iwayaji (#45) is considered by some to be the most scenic of the 88 temples.
- Shikoku Karst – a gorgeous area of the mountains with outcropping stones and roaming cattle that runs right up to the border with Kochi Prefecture. 360-degree panoramic views, easy hiking trails, and delicious ice cream. There are also cabins and a hotel if you want to stay the night.
- Omogo Gorge – escape the heat and enjoy amazing scenery with some hiking along one of the deepest gorges in Japan. Camping spots with some accessible swimming holes if you want to get away for the weekend!
- Kuma Ski Land – 3 short runs and a beginner slope and lift which is free (with park entry fee of 1000 yen). Snow is mainly machine-made over a base of naturally fallen snow. Very popular with young people as there is night skiing every day until midnight. The season officially opens December 1 and runs until around mid to late March.
- Konan- A home goods store similar to Daiki (or a Home Depot) that sells a variety of things that you may need for your home along with supplies that may be needed for camping! It is one of the first buildings seen when entering Kuma from Matsuyama.
Toon City [東温市]
Toon is just to the east of Matsuyama but still falls under the jurisdiction of Matsuyama City. It was created in 2004 by merging several towns and villages.
Location / Access / Transport
- Train: To/From Matsuyama – from Shieki, get Line 1 towards Yokogawara. There are several stops in Toon.
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Ehime University School of Medicine and University Hospital.
- Riraku Onsen – modern onsen with several pools and a sauna. You can also get massages, private baths, and bento.
- AX Snowboarding slope.
- Twin Dome – sports facility.
- Shirai no taki waterfall – located in Kawauchi. There’s a haiku monument to Natsume Soseki, who visited the waterfall in 1895.
- Mt. Saragamine – 1271m above sea level; you can camp there in the summer!
- Ehime Prefectural Greenery Centre – includes a semi-tropical Botanical garden and a lot of Sakura trees.
- Dotekabocha (Pumpkin) Carnival – held in September.
- Kangetsu-sai (Moon Viewing Festival) – the main city festival is held on the last Saturday of August. There is taiko and Bon-dancing near Yokogawara Bridge and a firework display over Shigenobu River.
- Yakitori – a really good places opposite Shigenobu JHS.
- Wacca Café – a bagel café next to Tanokubo station. Does a great lunch set.
- Polly`s Café – an `English` restaurant, complete with Guinness, tartan and paella.
- Fuji/Cools Mall – clothes shops, store selling locally produced goods and a supermarket.