Iyo District

Incorporating Tobe Town, Iyo City, Futami Town and Nakayama Town.

 

Tobe Town [砥部町]

Tobe is the gate-way to the mountainous regions south-west of Matsuyama. Tobe has a population of about 22,000.
Website: http://www.town.tobe.ehime.jp

Location / Access / Transport

Bus: to/from Matsuyama - about 30 minutes. Go to bus stop Number 3 at Matsuyama Shieki Station. Buses numbered 15, 17 and 18 stop in Tobe.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Tobeyaki - a style of pottery unique to the area. There are several shops where visitors can not only purchase tobeyaki, but make it too.
  • Tobe Pottery Festival - held every 3rd Saturday and Sunday in April. Attracts over 100,000 people every year.
  • Tobe Zoo - one of the largest zoos in Japan, it is home to a variety of animals from many different countries!
  • Plum festival – held in February at the Nanoore Park, features plum trees in bloom and umeboshi products.
  • Kodomo no Shiro Koen - the Ehime Children’s Playground.
  • Hirota Firefly Festival - held in June; festival food and firefly watching in the countryside.
  • Camping - there is a beautiful campground located near the dam in Tobe!

 

Iyo City [伊予市]

Iyoshi is a sea-side city that lies just south of Matsuyama. It is home to about 39,500 people and it encompasses the towns of Iyo (on the coastal plains), Nakayama (tucked into the mountains to the south east), and Futami (a seaside village that lies on the other side of the hills along the coast to the south).
Website: http://www.city.iyo.lg.jp/

Location / Access / Transport

  • Bus: to/from Matsuyama - the local bus from Matsuyama Shieki station departs intermittently during the day and arrives in Iyoshi in about an hour. Many of the long haul highway buses make a short stop in Iyoshi. Check with the bus company for accurate times and locations.
  • Train: Iyoshi is serviced by both the JR Shikoku Line and the local Iyotetsu Line running from Matsuyama.
  • Car: to/from Matsuyama - take the Iyo exit on the Matsuyama Expressway (toll road) or follow Route 56 and look for the sign to exit to Iyo Station or City Centre. You can also take Route 378 which is a scenic route that runs along the coast from Matsuyama all the way to Nagahama.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • The Festival of the Five Princesses - early March. Legend has it that five beautiful princesses once sat at that beach but were suddenly turned into stones according to the colour of their kimono. Now, the city honours their memory each year with a new group of local “princesses”.
  • The Good Catch Festival - May 5th. This festival is meant to ensure a fruitful year for all of the local fishermen.
  • Iyo Odori (dance festival) and the Iyoshi Fireworks - July 28th, and 29th. Teams from all over Iyo gather to dance and parade through the city streets. The next night is one of the largest fireworks festivals in Ehime. Some recommended spots for viewing the fireworks are Goshikihama and the observatory of Mt. Tagami.
  • Autumn Festival - every fall the kami from the shrines of Iyo are carried out upon Mikoshi and paraded through the city streets. Great for those seeking a more intimate experience than other fall festivals in Ehime.

Dining Out

  • Agastia - a Japanese / Indian curry house with a strong hippie vibe, this has been a popular spot with ALTs for years. The food is good, and relatively cheap.
  • Dragon Chinese Restaurant - located on route 378 just down the road from Shinkawa station, this family run restaurant serves some excellent Chinese food.
  • Iroha - a high end Japanese restaurant that is conveniently located two blocks north of the JR station. It’s not too expensive and has an intimate atmosphere.

Shopping

  • There is a local market just outside of the JR station that sells fresh, local produce and other assorted seasonal items.
  • Fuji and Marunaka supermarkets located near the station.
  • If you want anything else, the massive mall Emiful and the shopping options of Matsuyama are just a quick ride away on the Iyotetsu train.

Leisure

  • Welpia (ウェルピア) -  a multi-purpose facility that lies on the border between Iyoshi and Masaki. It has a massive pool, waterslides, a great restaurant, onsen, golf range, batting cages and much more!
  • Shiosai Koen - this park is home to several outdoor facilities including outdoor gyms, baseball fields, tennis courts, and running tracks. The indoor facilities include a gym with free weights, treadmills, bikes, and many more.
  • Goshikihama - this popular beach is open for swimmers from June to the end of August. There is also a small outdoor pool, but it is usually crowded with elementary school students. Beach volleyball and ultimate Frisbee are also quite popular. The beach is about a 15 minute walk west of the city station.
  • Onsen - there are several small onsen around the city – two of which are easily located within walking distance of Goshikihama beach.
  • Tagami-san and Iyo Lookout - This mountain is located directly behind Iyoshi and can only be accessed by car. It is also a very nice hike. But be careful as some points of the road are quite steep. The lookout can be accessed at any time of the year, but it is most beautiful during sakura season. You can see the entire Iyo plain from the observatory.

Nightlife

There are a few bars in Iyo, but most of them are small and only frequented by regulars. The one exception is a small bar called “Dragon Bowz” across from the Marunaka supermarket. It is quite foreigner friendly and has free karaoke!

 

 

Futami Town [双海町]

Futami is a small seaside town within Iyo City with a population of about 5,000. Futami Beach is quite famous in the area, and you can enjoy the sun, sand, and waves with some ice cream and beer down at Seaside Park.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Train: to/from Matsuyama - 45 minutes. To/From Iyo - 15 minutes. Get off at Iyo-Kaminada station and make a right to go to the Seaside Park.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Seaside Park - one of the best beaches in Ehime with food and a famous sunset to boot.
  • Train Platform Concert - there is a fabulous yearly concert in late summer at Shimonada station, which is the station closest to the sea in all of Japan, with the sunset as a backdrop.
  • Summer Festival – not to be missed! If you sign up you can try to catch fish and octopus in the sea with your bare hands. There is also a bon odori (traditional dance) through the streets; dress up in a yukata and join in! At night there are fireworks over the sea.
  • Firefly Festival - there is a firefly festival in the mountains during firefly season around early June.

Dining Out

  • There are various small stores selling food throughout the town, although the selection is very limited.
  • Seaside Park - here you can get delicious jakoten (deep fried fish patties), and fresh, whole fish and vegetables if you go at the right time. On nice days they also grill squid and prawns and sometimes offer tai (sea bream) rice, mountain-vegetable rice, homemade doughnuts and mochi, all of which are excellent. The park also has a restaurant that offers expensive sashimi sets and some basic dishes.

Shopping

  • A souvenir shop underneath the restaurant in the Seaside Park which also sells delicious ice cream.
  • There is a small shop selling Bizenyaki (pottery from Bizen) if you take the road from the station past the Seaside Park.
  • One convenience store across from the Seaside Park.

 

 

Nakayama Town [中山町]

Nakayama is a small town with a population of about 4,000. Meaning “within the mountains”, Nakayama has incredible views of the surrounding landscape. The local train station offers easy access to Matsuyama and Emifull.

Location / Access / Transport

  • Train: to/from Matsuyama - about 40 minutes by the regular JR train. Exit at the Iyo- Nakayama stop.
  • Car: Route 56 runs directly through Nakayama

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Summer Festivals – look for the Nakayama Samba!
  • Chestnut Festival - celebration of the Nakayama’s extensive chestnut farms; held in September.
  • Firefly Festival - firefly watching and matsuri food in late spring/early summer.
  • Trails - there are several mountain paths leading to some scenic groves, ancient shrines, and sudden graveyards.
  • Strawberry picking and soba-making - great in the summer, but only accessible by car.

 

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