Ainan Town 愛南町

Description

Ainan is located in the southernmost part of Ehime (bordering Kochi). The town has a population of around 23,000 (June 2014). About ten years ago, five towns (Uchiumi, Misho, Johen, Nishiumi, and Ipponmatsu) were joined together and are now known as Ainan. The area is famous for katsuo (bonito), pearls and mikan. Ainan is a great place to be outdoors; there are many good hikes and great spots to swim, snorkel, kayak, fish, or windsurf.

Although the town is well provided for in terms of facilities, Ainan is one of the more rural placements in Ehime and has suffered notable depopulation in recent years. Transport links are frequent and reliable, however Ainan’s position at almost four hours south of Matsuyama makes it something of an isolated spot (but a beautiful one!) within the prefecture.

Website – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ainan_Ehime or http://www.town.ainan.ehime.jp/


Location / Access / Transport

Train:

Nearest JR stop is 45 minutes’ drive/bus ride away in Uwajima. If you’re travelling a lot at weekends, definitely invest in a Young Weekender’s Card which provides 40% discounts on return train fares within Shikoku (though extending to Okayama) for weekend travel.

Bus:

  • To/From Matsuyama: 3.5 hours; costs 2000 yen.
  • To/From Uwajima: Costs 1650 yen.
  • To/From Osaka. Night bus available from the Johen Bus Center!

Taking the bus around Ainan itself is fairly expensive, and the bus is only available about once every hour. However, this is all the more reason to use your own two feet or two wheels and explore! From Misho and Johen, it is possible to bike or walk to any necessary amenities – you can survive without a car!

From Sunokawa, you may have to rely on the bus or friendly neighbors and coworkers willing to give you rides in and out of town.


Shopping

Supermarkets

  • Fuji supermarket. Located in Johen (with a Daiso conveniently attached!): if you shop here often, be sure to get a loyalty card!
  • A Max. Located in Misho: the largest grocery store in the area. It has a variety of things (food, toys, home goods, hardware, fishing, gardening, etc.) Loyalty card is also available here.
  • Shinbashi. Supermarket in Johen near the three way traffic light and across from Circle K.

Home Improvement

  • Daiki. Behind Fuji and JA in Johen (carry on past Fuji, take the road on the right and there it is!). This is a good store for general home goods: light bulbs, spare plugs, garden equipment and the like!

Clothing

  • Shimamura. Clothing store in Misho.

Local Goods

  • MIC. Sells local produce and omiyage Located in Misho off 56.

Pharmacies

  • Big Yellow Pharmacy. Located on Route 56 in Misho opposite Lawson, offering a range of health goods and medicines (including insect repellant – important for the summer months!); there’s also an in-house pharmacist available to help.

Books, Music, and Gifts

  • Takashimaya Gift Shop. Good place for small gifts and birthday presents.
  • Haruya. Located in Misho – has a great CD and DVD section, as well as a ton of books (though, obviously, all in Japanese, the manga and magazines can be interesting to look at nonetheless!)

Convenience Stores (Konbini)

  • A whole bevy of convenience stores (Lawson, Sunkus, Circle K) dotted all over towcan also pay for your Amazon goods, travel tickets (bus and plane) and utility bills.

Dining Out


MISHO/JOHEN AREA

Japanese

  • Bachikoi. Izakaya type food – great food, good drinks (alcohol and juice), and the owner is a nice guy, too! Good communication. Located on the right, a bit past Amax by the traffic signal.
  • Naniwa. Reasonable prices, nice atmosphere, traditional Japanese food. Located near Misho Junior High School and Sunkus.
  • Hana Karuta. Very nice izakaya type food, beer for 300yen and mixed drinks 450yen. Located up from Minamiuwa High School and Misho Bunka centre.
  • Roppo. Great izakaya style and food. English menu available. Located behind the Johen Community Centre.
  • Sakurazaka. Located in Johen near the three way traffic light.
  • Yuzu. Located in Misho on the corner off of 56, close to Iyo Bank. Yuzu recently (Spring 2014) added two small karaoke rooms making it possible to once again do karaoke in Ainan without having to go to a snack bar!
  • Ranmante. Good food and reasonable prices. Located off of the main street in Johen.
  • Ramen shop. In the car park directly in front of Sun Pearl. Great ramen!
  • Aoikuni Hotel Buffet. (summer only), costs about 2000-2500 yen. Good selection and decent food, beer.

Sushi

  • Nishimura. Conveyor belt sushi place, great food. Located opposite the Misho police station.

Chinese

  • Pink Bamboo Blossom. Wide variety of good Chinese food. Located in the car park near Joyfull, it’s the pink free standing building.

Korean

  • Chise. Located next door to the Aokuni Hotel. Big neon bull over the entry. 3,500yen for women, 4,000 yen for men gets you all the unlimited meat and drink (though seafood and vegetables are restricted).

French Bakeries and Cafés

  • Je Taime. Wonderful cakes and sweets. You can also order a lunch set. Upstairs is a wonderful area to sit, relax and eat. In the winter you can keep warm at your kotatsu. Located on the corner opposite Sun Pearl and the bowling alley.
  • Un Verre. (MIC’s second floor café) great lunch menu, desserts, and a range of coffees from all over the world. Located on 56 across from sunkus.

Family Restaurants

  • Joyfull. The Japanese cheap-and-cheerful diner has its branch in Misho, near Amax. Burgers, pasta, steaks… all good food at good prices! Open 24/7.

UCHIUMI AREA

Japanese

  • Yurari. Japanese restaurant and onsen. Good food, great set menu for enkais. Located across from Sunokawa Park.
  • Sapporo Ramen. Mom and Pop ramen chain; wonderful family and good ramen. Located on the left side of the road as you come out of the tunnel heading south.
  • 56ya. This is a wonderful little roadside store run by a very nice couple. They sell ice cream, French fries, ramen, udon, frankfurters, and tako yaki. They also have a small display of Japanese antiques, and if you ask, they will show you more! Located on the left side of the road before the tunnel as you travel south towards Misho.

Italian

  • Alpha. Pizza and pasta restaurant, located just south of Kashiwa.

Leisure

  • Marine Activities. A variety of ocean-oriented activities including snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, whale-watching, deep sea fishing, surfing lessons, glass-bottom boat tours, and scuba diving (need PADI certification).
  • Sunokawa Park. Located on route 56 has a place to rent snorkeling equipment, wet suits, and kayaks. There is beautiful coral right off the beach, a great place for snorkeling! A single kayak is 700 yen for two hours.
  • Kashima. Island located off of Nishiumi. To get there take the glass bottom boat out to the island. There is also great snorkeling! But beware of the monkeys!
  • Beaches of Ainan. Lots of beaches for lounging and relaxing.
  • Onsen. Ainan has three: Yamadashi in Sozu, Yurari in Sunokawa and Akebono in Ipponmatsu.
  • Misho Tower. Bird’s eye view of the area from a lookout tower in Misho.
  • Waterpark garden in Misho.
  • Bowling. Alley in Misho.
  • Abbey Road. Large selection of cheap DVDs, VHS and video game rentals. Misho.
  • Camping. Excellent campground at Irino about an hours drive away in Kochi; go to a store/shelter to reserve a space. Green Park and Sunokawa park in Sunokawa, great places to camp and spend the day by the ocean.
  • Surfing. Great locations at Ooki Beachi in Kochi, down route 56, or at Irino Beach in Ogata. For more information, visit their website.

Nightlife

There are an endless string of hostess bars (locally called “snacks”), particularly in Johen. Most tend to be very pricey, and you may find yourself roped into singing karaoke to the hostesses/buying her drinks (if you’re a male JET). If you’re out with friends, izakayas are much more preferable.

Considering that Japan’s drink-driving laws are extremely strict, if you’re driving you might want to take advantage of a “daiko” service. You drive your car to the izakaya, ring them and they drive you home in it! Simply ask the izakaya staff to call “daiko” for you and they’ll help.

  • Rain bartender on the Johen street is awesome! Will get out his English dictionary to chat with you and bring you blankets. This is also a popular nijikai/sanjikai spot for Johen teachers.
  • Dolphin. Located behind Rain, a popular nijikai/sanjikai spot for teachers. Drink wine and eat little pizzas while looking at pictures of dolphins.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Festival for the Dead (Obon). August/September Fukuura, Nishiumi, Dancing and singing.
  • Autumn festivals. Found in every town when the leaves start to turn.
  • Spring Fish Festival. Part of the beach is netted off, fish and seafood are planted in this area, and hundreds of people barrel into the water with a net, hoping to catch anything!
  • Mud Soccer Meet. First weekend of September at Sasayama ES/JHS. Play soccer in the mudfilled rice paddies!
  • Ainan Triathlon. June every year in Nishiumi. Participate or come watch!
  • Fireflies. There are ferries to Kashima from Nishiumi (deer island, one of the several islands with the same name in Ehime) where it is possible to see deer, monkeys, and of course, fireflies. Fireflies are most abundant in early June and can also be viewed from other spots across Ainan.
  • Hanami. During cherry blossom season Amamori Mountain in Johen, near the baseball stadium, has over 1,000 cherry trees and numerous hiking trails.

Accommodation

Hotels are available in Sunokawa and Ipponmatsu.

  • 56ya has a great tatami style room for 2000yen/night. Dinner and breakfast are included!

Health

There is a wealth of hospitals and clinics in the area.

There is an English speaking doctor in Uchiumi. She is very helpful and fluent in English.

Big hospitals are located in Misho (Minamiuwa Hospital). There are also hospitals in Johen and Ipponmatsu.