Hojo Town 北条町
Hojo was a city located about 20 minutes away from Matsuyama by local train which has since been incorporated into part of Matsuyama City. It has a population of approximately 30,000 people.
Location / Access / Transport
Hojo is located about 20km north of Matsuyama
- By train: Take the JR Yosan line from Matsuyama JR station north for seven stops or take an express train for one stop. The local train takes 20-30 minutes and costs ¥350 while the express takes 12 minutes and costs ¥660. Note that the express train does not always stop at the Hojo stop so check the timetable.
- By bus:There are also buses that leave from Matsuyama city and JR stations. The bus takes significantly longer and costs much more than the train.
- As well as a Circle K and Lawson on the major Hojo bypass, there are three main supermarkets in Hojo. Hato Mato and Fuji ZY are both very close to the JR station and Marunaka is closer to Fuwari beach.
- There are multiple small off licenses (liquor stores) in Hojo but the best selection is definitely in Marunaka.
- Fuji and Hato Mato close at 8pm but Marunaka is open until 10pm. Anything you need later than that will need to come from one of the convenience stores.
- For clothes etc. your best bet is to go to Matsuyama.
- There are plenty of restaurants in Hojo.
- Near the station, you'll find an Italian restaurant (they serve Guinness here), Takoyaki and a good Okonomiyaki store.
- Further south along the main Hojo street are numerous Chinese restaurants.
- Near the boundary of Hojo and Horie is the local favourite Club House which serves curry, burgers and yakiniku. You will often find students here eating with their families.
- There are karaoke and snack bars near the station.
- Further down the road towards Matsuyama are a number of larger karaoke bars.
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Probably Hojo's biggest attraction is the island of Kashima. Located just off the western shore and accessible by a five minute ferry, the island offers lovely views, plenty of deer to feed, barbeque facilities, numerous beaches and plenty of spots to camp. Also, noone lives on the island so once the ferries stop running (around 9pm) you're on your own for the night.
- Mt. Takanawa in the east part of Hojo is lovely to go hiking up. The nature trails are some of the nicest in the Matsuyama area.
- Fuwari beach in the northern part of Hojo is a large and popular beach area with Matsuyama locals. There are some small shops around there, plenty of ice cream stalls and a couple of football pitches (you have to book these in advance).
- Hojo Natsu Matsuri (summer festival) takes place at the end of July. Lots of stalls are set up and fireworks are fired above Kashima island.
- Hojo Matsuri takes place during the harvest time around the beginning of October. Hojo's festival is a little different from the ones in Matsuyama as it seems to centre around the destruction of mikoshi (portable shrines). Five of the shrines are thrown down sets of stairs repeatedly and the following day, one is thrown in the river nearby (with a local on top).
Matsuyama City 松山市
Matsuyama is the capital city of Ehime, and is the biggest city on Shikoku with a population of about 520,000.
Location / Access / Transport
Right in the middle of Ehime along the coast, with Hojo to the east, and Iyo to the west. It also takes in the communities of Nakajima and Hojo. Matsuyama is the big city hub of Ehime.
- Located on the Yosan JR line, is an express train stop. Numerous buses can be found leading to many major cities in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka). Ferry services to Hiroshima, Osaka, and Beppu/Oita runs from the main ferry port on the East side of town.
- There are several places that have bike rentals – EPIC has free rentals for foreigners, but you need to pay a deposit (bring your passport or residence card) and book ahead if you can. Monkeys in an alleyway opposite Starbucks, has bikes available at a small fee.
- You can also walk, use the city trains, buses or trams.
- Matsuyama Tourist Bus Map: http://www.iyotetsu.co.jp/bus/busmap/english/
- For buses – when you hop on at the back, take the ticket (check out the number that is printed on it) and watch the screen at the front. A price corresponds with each ticket number. Pay when you leave. If you don’t have correct change, you can use the money changer at the front.
- Trams are a set price – 150yen.
Honestly, this list is just to get you started. In reality there are tons of places and the stores often change. Don't be afraid to explore!
- Gintengai/Okaido: shopping arcade running from Takashimaya Department Store (at the Shieki city station) to Mitsukoshi/Starbucks. Trams and buses also stop both in front of Starbucks (end of Okaido) and in front of Shieki (Takashimaya end) Places of interest:
- Takashimaya: swanky department store. There is some grocery shopping in the basement, with sections carrying foreign foods (like peanut butter and spices). Be careful to pay in the correct area – it is not all one store! Upstairs is a toy shop and a great stationerary shop.
- A-One foreign foods
- Animate: THE place for all your anime otaku needs! (4F, building near A-one, look for the sign)
- GET: big 100yen store on the 3rd floor and groceries in the basement
- Zara: high-end clothes at sale prices
- Best Denki: large electronics store on the corner where Gintengai meets Okaido
- Space: a stationary type store poplular with the students ... also a good place to buy costumes
- Muji: conservative clothing, stationary, travel goods, furniture, and some foreign cooking packets
- Mitsukoshi: expensive and brand oriented shopping. Food is in the basement with two pastry stores, meat store and another small section of foreign foods and cheeses.
- Junkudo Bookstore: A large bookstore that is also home to a pretty extensive foreign book section! On the street parallel to Gintengai just to the north of A-one.
- Fabric Store: For those who enjoy sewing (or need fabric for whatever reason) there is a really nice fabric store on the street just past Junkudo. 3 floors, 1st floor also has a nice range of beautiful Japanese print fabric.
- Fuji Grand (500m west of JR station): large shopping centre with groceries, fast-food outlets (McDonalds, KFC, Mr Doughnuts, Baskin Robbins), clothing, fitness center, house wares. Also nearby is an electronics store and a Hard Off store (selling books and electronics at discount prices).
- Kinuyama: this area has many stores and restaurants. There’s a home supplies store called Nitori across the large street from the main shopping area (lamps, couches, beds, bedding, dishes etc), bagel shop, Baskin Robbins, media centre (pool tables, computer access, book rentals), 100yen store, men’s business clothing, Hard Off/Book Off.
- Dogo: this area is great for gifts for home. It is focused at tourists because of the very popular bathhouse at the end of the shopping arcade. Food, pottery, Japanese souvenirs. Check out the special bath towels!
- Jusco: (15 minute walk south of Gintengai’s entrance; buses #14, #15, and #18 also pass by here from Shieki; or a 5min walk from Tachibana Station on the Iyotesu Train line): Grocery, clothing, house wares, furinture, stationary, some electronics, appliances, and a food court.
- Jow-Pla: another Fuji/Jusco type collection of stores about a 5 minute walk from Jusco. 1st floor contains Daiso, a great 100 yen store, food court, and groceries. 2nd floor has clothing, a stationary/art store, and a fabric/craft store. 3rd floor has the DeoDeo electronic store.
- Daiki: 2 mins from Jow-Pla. A large hardware store.
- Toys 'R Us: another 5 mins past Daiki on the main road.
- DIK: (Heiwa-doori, north side of Matsuyama castle hill): house wares, hardware
- Grocery Shopping
- GET/Fresh Value: Gintengai. Good prices. Other Fresh Value locations around town (lower prices but not such a wide range of choices or prepared foods).
- Fuji: everywhere. Very good store. Lots of produce and sushi and some western items (like cheese, chips and soda). Fuji Grand in Dogo and near JR Station
- Seven Star: always has cheap cheese and good lunch foods. Almost the same as Fuji as far as good prepared foods and a great selection.
- Marunaka: A little more like a gourmet store, thus more expensive. They have many more pre-made foods and sometimes carry different types of things.
- Jusco: large grocery store on the 1r.
- Sunny Mart: grocery store open till midnight! Located in Kinuyama across the street from the movie theater.
- Foreign Foods
- A-One: Gintengai. Go here for a few staples like popcorn, Mexican food fixings or candy. A good place for gifts for your teachers.
- A-Price: Off the airport road (kuko-dori). This is the best place to go for getting lots of stuff at a good price. Tortillas, spices, pasta, canned beans and fruits etc. It is a restaurant supply store, but you can shop there. Also alcohol and frozen foods (including things like mangoraspberries). A little hard to find at first, but if you are facing JR station, to the left until the roadhits the city train line. Turn right at that street (but don’t cross over to the train side). The signis read and written in katakana. It’s about a block down.
- Item Ehime: good beers and some Thai foods and bulk foods (like candy).
- Supa: a few locations. Cheapest coconut milk and tortillas. Also, lots of pasta and frozenfoods.
This is just to get you started… there are many local great places that the people who live in Matsuyama will be able to help you out. These are the greatest hit spots only.
- Coffee / Cafes:
- Starbucks: Two locations: one at the end of Okaido (Mitsukoshi-side) and one near Shieki (Takashimaya) next to Saibi High School. The only non-smoking café in town. Great for meeting with teachers or for finding other foreigners on the weekends.
- Avignon: Two locations, one in Okaido. Excellent cakes and quite good coffee. Sometimes has good sandwiches.
- St Marcs (Choco Cro): In Okaido. Great chocolate filled croissants!
- BC Café: right turn off Okaido coming from Starbucks. Great sandwiches.
- Dotour: café with a few bagel sandwiches, really cheap (in Gintengai, on a corner)
- Salus: café with an organic foods shop in front, has great soft serve smoothies (called ‘salus’ on the menu)
- Santo Santo: café, variety of foods and desserts. There are several locations throughout Matsuayama. The two most-trafficked is the one located in the Takashimaya Building on the third floor and the one behind Space near Mitsukoshi and across from Ippudo Ramen.
- Family Resturants
- Coco's: Not to be confused with Coco's the curry chain, this restruant is located in the Jusco/Jow-Pla area near Daiki. It's a slighly more upscale version of Joyfull and Gusto. Has a drink bar, so it's a good place to study.
- Joyfull: Several locations throughout the city, though none are very close to the Okaido/Gintengai area
- Niccora: Buffet-style resturant located on Rte 33
- Charlie's Vegetables: Vegetarian-style buffet restruant. Also has very good soups. Open for both lunch and dinner (during dinner they also serve hot dishes). Located off the Matsuyama Castle ropeway street. There is also a newer cafe version near the southwestern edge of the Matsuyama Castle moat, right at the corner where the tram turns to go toward JR.
- Izukaya-style (aka prefered locations for all-you-can-drink parties, food comes in small dishes you order sperately and share family-style. Menus are usually a mix of Japanese and western food):
- Gazen: behind Mitsukoshi Department store off Okaido (same street as the big red bus). Great food and okay prices.
- Hakkenden: located on nibanchou east of Okaido, this place’s food is okay, but it’s real deal is the all-you-can-drink deals starting at 1000yen for two hours!
- Doma Doma: One of the best izakayas in town, Doma Doma is located about two blocks east of Okaido on ichibanchou.
- Ramen / Udon
- Ippudo: Hakata-style ramen and different from any other ramen you've ever tasted! Behind Okaido next to Space and across from Santo Santo
- Ropeway Ramen: Located on the Matsuyama Ropeway street. Cute and quaint, it's a family-run business. The owner studied ramen-making in Hokkaido.
- There are also several ramen/udon places on the basement level near Takashimaya.
- Other Japanese Food
- Okonomiyaki: a Japanese food that looks like a pizza, but tastes different. It’s good and there are lots of restaurants that serve it. A good and cheap one is a few minutes walk past Okaido through an old arcade) and has a yellow VW sticking out of the building.
- Yakitori: Meat on sticks! A really good place for yakitori is on a sidestreet off Okaido. Halfway to Paradisio. The same shop also has another location near Mitsukoshi
- Kaiten Sushi: Sushi is virtually everywhere, but one of the most popular and cheapest places is in southern Matsuyama near Unqlo and Don Quiote
- Hakkon: You might notice that Chinese food in Japan is a bit ... different than what you're used to. The best place I have found for, more-or-less, "good" Chinese is Hakkon. They are slightly on the pricey side but the food is worth it. It's off a sidestreet that runs parallel to Okaido. Near Flankeys. They also have party courses.
- Mexican ... is one cuisine that is relatively absent in Matsuyama. There are a couple of "psuedo" Mexican places you can try if you really have a hankering for it though.
- Underground Cafe: Despite its name, Underground is really a bar. They have a small selection of nachos, enchiladas, and tacos. Be warned though that they sometimes substitute tomato sauce for salsa .... It's off the Matsuyama Castle ropeway street. Look for a U.K. flag (yeah we don't know why either ...)
- Mexican shop: In a place where old JETs call "the old Mirai" (reference to a long-forgotten JET hangout site), there is a relatively new Mexican resturant, also off the Matsuyama ropeway street.
- Coco's: Coco's (not the curry place) also has Quesadillas and Taco salads. It's located near Daiki and Jow-Pla
- Italian & Pizzas
- Paradisio: Best pizza is found at Paradiso café on Nibancho Street (calzones and pasta as well). Be warned that Paradisio is a bit expensive and you must order a drink with your meal.
- Indie’s Kashi Mashi: (in the hopping nighttime area) good pizza.
- Pizzeria de Cappucio: in Okaido, also has a variety of good pizzas.
- Santo Santo: Also has some decent pasta dishes.
- La Sera: Famous for its lasagna (though a bit different from normal western lasanga), also has other pasta and chicken dishes. Lunch sets include an entree with salad and bread.
- Ninniku-ya: As its name suggests... Ninniku-ya is famous for its garlic. The garlic rice is particularly good, but its pasta is pretty good too. Offers course sets for those large parites. Located on the 9F of Takashimaya, there is also one in Emiful.
- Freshness Burger: located off Gintengai has some very interesting burgers
- Mos Burger: located about two blocks south of Jusco
- McDonald's: They are everywhere .....
- Everest: Hands down the best Indian in town! Located in Gintengai on the 2F just past the Lawson's if you're walking from Mitsukoshi. Their lunch sets are particularly good deals
- Ladki's: Formally the best Indian in town. There are two locations: one across from 31 Baskin Robins and one near Shieki
- Korean / Yakiniku
- An-san: Probably the best known Korean restruant in town. It's a little store near Tachibana bridge. He is often crowded on the weekends so a reservation is necessary.
- Hachikinzan: Touted as the best yakiniku in town! (She has an article to prove it!) Located about two blocks east of Best Denki. Their speciality is the "karashi", meat marinated in spicy sauce.
- There are many other yakinuki resturants peppered around the city
- Amitie – quite delicious and slightly pricey – downtown in Matsuyama near NHK park (the place with the moat). Try lunch, just as good and half the cost.
- Cabaret – next to HIS near Shieki on the 3rd floor.
- Gintengai / Okaido: Several karaoke places (Big Echo, Shidax, El-notes), Internet/Manga Cafes, and Game Arcades. Big Ex is the biggest arcade in the area. Bowling and pool tables can be found on the north end of Okaido.
- Kisue Box located across from the JR Station has bowling, karakoe, an arcade, and a nice onsen.
- Kinuyama Cinema Sunshine:
- Okaido Cinema Sunshine:
- Sports and Excercise
- Comi-Cen. The easiest place to get started (and for cheap) is at the Comi-Cen (Community Centre). At the Comi-Cen there is a great lap swimming pool, a free weights gym, a nautilus-type machine and cardio gym and racquetball/badminton/ping pong courts available to be rented.
- How to use the Comi-Cen. For the pool, you must walk downstairs and use the machine to 64 buy a ticket for 200yen. This has a time mark on it. Each hour is 200yen. As you enter, you will need to remove your shoes and put them into a plastic bag. Walk into the locker room area. Lockers require a 50yen coin to lock and be able to carry the key with you. Locking is recommended, as there is sometimes theft at the pools. Rinse in the shower, walk through the foot cleaning pool and there you are! You must use a swim cap. If you don’t have one they have yellow ones available poolside. Remember, if you go over an hour, you must pay more money! As you leave, show that time-marked ticket to the woman and either pay more or be on your way.
- For the gyms, upstairs as you enter the exercise building, there is a counter with cards. Please fill in the card (English is ok) and hand it to the attendant. You will need to pay 200yen and they will give you a wrist band. Go to it! Then return the wrist band as you leave.
- Tennis Courts. There are places to play tennis all over town. Your school may even allow you to play there when the tennis clubs aren’t using it for practice. Many parks have tennis areas (along Ishite koen). Botchan Stadium has nice ones, but they are often in use by university clubs.
- Botchan Stadium is the very nice sports arena and area of Matsuyama City. There is a baseball stadium, soccer fields, tennis courts, a brand new swimming pool, and a martial arts area.
- Besides Comi-Cen, there are lots of private gyms where you can pay if you choose. Tomorrow, located near Dogo Park, is a small cozy gym, only 5250yen/month (foreigner discount). Others include Holiday, Konami, and Fitta. All are quite expensive and lacking in equipment normally found in western gyms.
- Iyotestu Sports Center: Located in southern Matsyama near Jusco, this is the one place in Matsuyama that offers ice skating in the winter! There is also a local ice hockey league that plays here and welcomes foreigners to join. During the summer there is a pool instead.
- Dogo Onsen: The oldest onsen in Japan and one of Matsuyama's greatest attractions. It is often crowded with tourists. There are various courses you can choose from, some include tea, yukata, dango, and a tour of the building. Bring your own shampoo and soap. Towels can be rented.
- Jungle Onsen at Okudogo Hotel: A really nice onsen complex! As its name suggests, the onsen is a giant greenhouse with various plants and foliage. There are several different pools, waterfalls and an outdoor pool. Quite nice in the autumn when all the leaves have changed color outside. You can get a course that includes a buffet meal.
- Kisuke: Across from JR, look for the giant bowling pin. On the first floor is a very nice onsen with several spa tubs
The number of bars are endless! The following are just the most-popular haunts.
- Hagakure, a two storey dance club on the 5th floor of a building one block west of Mitsukoshi in Okaido, has a variety of events (usually with a 1000-2000yen cover charge).
- Biblos is another club, located to the east of Okaido, between Nibancho and Sanbancho on the 7th floor of a building (usually with a 1500yen+ cover)
- Disarm is a small bar located in the same building as Biblos. The bar owner has the best collection of music in Matsuyama.
- Flankey’s bar exists behind the McDonalds in Okaido. Cheapest beer in town.
- Sala Sol is another foreigner friendly bar located east of Okaido’s Club Zero, on the 3rd floor. A variety of events are held throughout the year.
- Hoshi Zora Jett is a very small bar located three blocks east of Okaido and near the intersection of nibancho. Bar attracts a rocker crowd and it’s known to get quite crazy from time to time.
- Salon Kitty is the local live house where many rock acts play. Located just across the bridge near the intersection of Tachibana and Gintengai. You can’t miss the giant painted stripper on 65 the front wall.
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Matsuyama Castle, located to the north of the prefectural building, accessible by foot or chairlift.
- Matsuyama Koen is a park, located in the center of the castle moat, and contains the prefectural art museum, and traditional gardens.
- Ishiteji, a famous temple, is located south of the Dogo area of town. Several festivals are held there at various times of the year.
- Dogo Onsen – a hot spring famous for being really old (really), is located in the northeast section of town, surrounded by shopping and several high-class hotels.
- Dogo Park, good for relaxing, can hike to the top for a nice view, great for cherry blossoms in spring
- Central Park – European style park with a mini castle west of JR station. Short hike up to a grassy area where you can picnic and see a nice view of Matsuyama.
- Matsuyama community center has a library, swimming pool and gym.
- Pick up a Matsuyama brochure at COMS to find more sightseeing and highlights.
- Abis Hotel – two locations: opposite prefectural building, and corner of Ichibancho and Katsuyama-doori – 4,500yen/night.
- Toyoko Inn – Ichibancho, east of Okaido – 5,000yen/night
- Many other hotels all over town ranging from 5,000 – 8,000yen/night
- Piano love hotel near Sanbancho downtown
Matsuyama publication “What’s Going On” prints the emergency hospitals for each month (available at EPIC, MIC/COMs).
- General Hospitals
- Ehime Prefectural Hospital, Shimin Hospital
- Ehime-kenritsu Chuo Byoin
- Women's Health
- Female gynecologist at Shimin Hospital near JR station, Dr Yuuko Kawamoto
- NTT Hospital in the moat area
- Yano Maternity Clinic, near EPIC – good gynecologists
- Takeoka Contact (up the Ropeway street from Ichibancho street so that Starbucks is on your right and LaForet is behind you. It’s about two minutes on foot, on the right hand side).
- Tanaka glasses (located about half way down Gintengai)
- Tokyo Glass Company: in Okaido. Also a good and cheap place to get glasses
- EPIC (Ehime Prefecture International Centre) is a very handy place! Catch a tram bound for Dogo from Matsuyama City Station or from Okaido. There is a woman on staff, Omori-san, who speaks English and is there to help you find a doctor, understand a bill or otherwise help you. You can park you car (please ask first). Intensive Japanese classes twice a year for two weeks each (summer/spring). Internet and good lending library too! You can also rent bicycles from EPIC.
- MIC/COMs is downtown, near to Shi-Eki. This is a good place to study and use the internet. Book loans and travel guides too.
- Foreign Books
- EPIC: free lending library. Just fill out your name in the back card and leave at EPIC.
- Comi-Cen: quite an extensive collection of English books. Fill out the application card in English – bring proof of your address or foreigner card. Borrow for up to two weeks.
- EPIC: free computer use (but a little troublesome).
- MIC/COMs: Set up a membership to use the computers for 100yen/hour. These connections are much better than the free ones at EPIC and worth the money.
- City Station: (air conditioned room next to the train ticket machine) – internet use is free, with a limit of 15 minutes if people are waiting.
Nakajima Town 中島町
Nakajima “The Island in the Seto Sun” is a rural community consisting of mikan farmers and fisherfolk. If you fancy a glimpse of old Japan then look no further. It is home to 5,000 people. Nakajima is also under the juridistiction of Matsuyama City.
Location / Access / Transport
Nakajima is located off the coast of Matsuyama.
- Hop on the train at Shieki. Trains run every 15 minutes starting on the hour from platform 2. It takes about 20 minutes to get to Takahama port (last stop). Tickets cost about 400 yen. Alternatively coming from JR walk straight up the main road and you will see a very small station on your right. From here tickets to Takahama will cost 350 yen. Once at Takahama walk out of the station and cross the road, directly in front of you will be a one storey white building. This is the ticket office. Slow ferries cost 730 yen (one-way), fast ferry 1300yen (one-way). You’ll notice traveling times vary depending on how many of the smaller islands you stop at. Check this link for ferry times.
- There are buses that leave from the port to various places around the island but they are few and far between. But it’s possible to hire bikes from the port for 200 yen a day.
- There are no convenience stores but there are several food stores – the biggest and easiest to find being Tominaga. Turn right out of the port and then immediately left and it will be on your left. It closes around 5.30.
- There is also a very nice off license nearby too!
- Virtually everything is closed on Sundays.
- There are quite a few restaurants on Nakajima: yakiniku, Chinese, curry and sushi all at very cheap prices.
- Nightlife (in the very loose sense of the word… Nakajima is a ghost town come 7pm!). However,one thing that Nakajima does know how to do is karaoke! There is an awesome karaoke place called Night situated (rather bizzarely) right behind a graveyard. You won’t miss it since it has some serious pika pika going on. I especially like it since you can adorn yourself in an array of dodgy accessories and then prance about! To get there turn left out of the port and keep going until you see the fairy lights. There is also another small karaoke bar directly opposite the port (next to the one and only coffee shop).
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Nakajima has a few beaches – the most popular being Himegahama.
- Himegahama is also the starting point of Nakajima’s triathlon; every August Nakajima plays host to a nationwide triathlon which people from throughout the land flock to in order to compete! The night before there is a bit of a shin-dig to celebrate so head over the night before to make the most of it. You can also hire tents/BBQs from the office at Himegahama… I think! As well as room although on the night before the triathlon these are all booked out, but if you want to stay any other time of the year I’m sure you’d have no problem in making a booking!
- Nakajima has a small smattering of points of interest: several shrines and a collection of artifacts from the Edo period. To find out more information please contact the Culture Centre (tel: 0899971181). Ask for Ms Ruriko Kocho – she speaks wicked English!
Toon City 東温市
Toon (sometimes written "Tohon") is just to the east of Matsuyama but still falls under the juridstiction of Matsuyama City.
Location / Access / Transport
- By train: 20 mins. The Iyotestu private Train line goes through Toon from Shieki.
- information currently being collected
- information currently being collected
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- information currently being collected