Hijikawa Town 肱川町

Description

“A kind breeze to welcome you, your hometown: Hijikawa.” A small town located in the mountains of Ozu, Hijikawa is home to about 2,500 people and the Hiji River.


Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: 30 minutes drive from Ozu, 25 minutes from Uchiko.
  • To Ozu. Runs four times a day; the bus ride is about 40 minutes and costs approximately 740 yen.

Shopping

  • A-Coop. A small grocery store located in the town center.
  • Michinoeki. A grocery store located on the main highway; it has a great produce stand and a good omiyage shop, as well as some delicious yakitori! It’s run by the Ninomiya family, who are wonderfully friendly people.

Dining Out

  • Ajito. Located at Michinoeki; has karaoke and Japanese fast food.
  • Hananomori. Chinese restaurant located at Michinoeki.
  • Fukase. Donburi restaurant located in an old building past the Shell heading towards Ozu. Fabulous oyako-don (chicken and egg rice bowl)!
  • Arirang. Korean barbeque. Located at the Michinoeki.
  • Kanogawaso. Has a restaurant and facilities for enkais. You’ll probably head here often for Town Hall/Hijikawa Junior High School teacher’s drinking parties!

Leisure

  • Onsen. There are two well known hot springs in Hijikawa – Oyabu and Kanogawa (near the main highway). Kanogawa is on the 56. Oyabu is through the giant red tori (gate) and up the mountain.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Oyabu Gorge. Head through the red tori and up the mountain a bit – it’s a picturesque spot for a short hike.
  • Kanogawa Lake. A beautiful lake created by the dam in Hijikawa. There are walking paths around the lake and an annual dragon boat race the first Sunday in August.
  • Maruyama Park. A very nice park located above Kanogawa Lake, and one of the best spots for viewing sakura in the spring. Head up in March to see the Shakunage Valley in bloom.
  • Hijikawa Wind Museum. Located up past Maruyama Park and is the site of the Hijikawa Fureai Festival in November. People come from all over for the performances, a janken tournament, and a free drawing for some awesome prizes (crates of produce, sake, washing machines, flat screens). Hijikawa Junior High School students run a flea market, sell festival food and also sell Hiji-chu’s famous charcoal (made by the students and the ALT if they are at school on the right day).
  • Brewery. Hijikawa has its own sake brewery named Kaze no Sato. It has existed for approximately 90 years. It is possible to purchase sake at the brewery (near the A-Coop in town) or at the Daily Yamazaki convenience store at Michinoeki (closes at 10:00pm).
  • Bunraku Monaka. A DELICIOUS Japanese sweet that you can buy for only 105 yen at the shop next to the central post office!
  • The Wind Museum also hosts a cultural performance in March that includes taiko, bunraku and traditional dance.

Accommodation

  • Kanogawaso Onsen. The onsen also hosts a relatively large, upscale hotel.

Health

  • There is a small hospital in town between the post office and city hall. However, from experience the doctor is a bit anti-foreign so it is recommended to do your medical treatments in one of the Ozu hospitals.


Kawabe Village 河辺村

Description

Kawabe is a small village just south of Ozu with a population of around 1,200. Nestled in the mountains of western Ehime, it’s known affectionately as a place where visitors “lose track of time.”


Location / Access / Transport

Buses

  • To Hijikawa. Three buses daily Monday-Friday. Pick it up in front of the Kawabe Board of Education. There are three buses a day Monday through Friday from the Kawabe Board of Education to Hijikawa, two buses on Saturday and no bus service on Sunday. The cost is approximately 360 yen each way.
  • To Ozu. Buses to Ozu are also available.

Shopping

  • Few stores are available in the immediate area. Grab a bus into Ozu and take a look at the Ozu area guide to check out all your options!

Dining Out

  • Ku-chan. The menu is limited and it serves food mainly at lunchtime. Head over in the evening for karaoke and beer, but watch the time since it often closes around 7 or 8pm.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • The Eight Covered Bridges. Kawabe is famous for its bridges, The nicest ones are Miyuki-bashi (built over 80 years ago) and Ryuoubashi located in Kawabe Furusato Park.
  • Sanhaidani Waterfall. There is a beautiful waterfall called Sanhaidani located up the road toward Ikazaki and Oda. Although it is signposted, it is a little difficult to find so it is best to ask someone for directions.
  • Summer Festival (second week of August) A small festival with singing, dancing and fireworks - great way to meet the locals!
  • Saitaniya. A ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) located near the park. For 3,200yen per person, you can rent the house for a night and enjoy the irori, a traditional open fireplace.


Nagahama Town 長浜町

Description

Nagahama is a small town located on the coast where the Hijikawa River meets the Seto Inland Sea. Most of its 9,000 residents are involved in the concrete, fishing or agricultural industries. Come check out the student-run Nagahama Aquarium with fish from all across Japan!


Location / Access / Transport

Train

  • To/From Matsuyama. 1 hour by local train (Yosan Line), 1 hour 20 minutes if you pass through Iyo.
  • To/From Ozu. 30 minutes.

Car

  • The coastal road, Route 237, branches off from Route 56 in Iyo and connects Nagahama with Futami, Honai and Yawatahama to the south.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Akabashi. Complete with bullet holes from WWII, Nagahama’s red drawbridge Akabashi is the oldest functioning drawbridge in Shikoku. Since commerce is mostly handled by truck now, there are not many opportunities to see the bridge in action, so it is opened every Sunday at 1 PM as a showcase.
  • Hijikawa Arashi. A very cool sight in winter! In the morning, strong winds blow water vapor rising off the river into large, thick clouds that hang low to the ground and blot out the view of the other side of the river. A major tourist attractions once featured on the national news.
  • Summer Fireworks Festival. A classic small-town festival located on the bank of the Hijikawa right near the red bridge. The fireworks are great and the food stalls are run by local merchants.
  • Shirataki. A waterfall with a dramatic history. There is an annual festival called Momiji Matsuri in the autumn celebrating the beautiful maple trees that grow around the waterfall. During Rurihime Matsuri, a special day within the Momiji Matsuri, local children dress up in historical costumes and throw flowers from the top of the waterfall in remembrance of Princess Ruri’s suicide.
  • Illumination. Every Christmas, the Yamato and Toyoshige areas of Nagahama construct elaborate, community-wide light displays featuring characters from Rudolph to Anpanman and messages of hope for the new year.
  • Nagahama Aquarium. Nagahama High School has a renowned aquarium run entirely by students, housing fish collected by the students in Okinawa, the Seto Inland Sea area and other places around Japan. It was recently featured on NHK, and is open to the public on the third Saturday of every month.


Ozu City 大洲市

Description

Known as the Little Kyoto of Iyo, Ozu is home to traditional sights including its castle and historic district, as well as many modern commodities including a movie theater and plenty of shopping. It encompasses the towns of Niiya, Nagahama, Hijikawa and Kawabe with a joint population of about 48,000.

Homepage: http://www.city.ozu.ehime.jp/english/index.html

Location / Access / Transport

Car:

Highway 56 runs directly through Ozu

Trains:

Ozu has 4 train stations on the main Yosan line that runs through Uchiko

  • Iyo Ozu (伊予大洲) This is the main station with both local and express trains. (35 minutes from JR Matsuyama by express train)
  • Niiya Station (新谷) Local trains only.
  • Nishi Ozu Station (西大洲) Local trains only.
  • Hirano Station (平野) Local trains only.

There are 6 stations in Ozu on the Yosan Line that runs to/from Nagahama.

  • Nagahama Station (長浜) This is the main station in Nagahama. Normally local trains only, however there will be a special sightseeing train Iyo-Nada Monogatari departing on weekends from Nagahama from July 2014.
  • Iyo Izushi (伊予出石) Local trains only.
  • Iyo Shirataki (伊予白滝) Local trains only, except for the special sightseeing train on weekends.
  • Hataki (八多喜) Local trains only.
  • Haruka (春賀) Local trains only.
  • Goro (五郎) Local trains only.

Buses:

Ozu is well connected to other cities through its bus routes. It also has buses that run within the city.

  • To/From Ozu. Iyotetsu bus routes pass through Ozu and have terminals in both Matsuyama and Uwajima
  • Airport Bus. There is also a bus line connecting Ozu to Matsuyama airport. One-way tickets are around 1800 yen while a round trip will cost you 3,240 yen. They can be purchased when you board or at the Ozu travel agency on the 5th floor of the Fuji Grand. Click here for the timetables. Look for a big blue bus with Konan Kanko written in white on the side. Departs from:
    • Iyo Ozu Train Station
    • The main Konan Kanko shuttle bus stop (from Ozu Sunshine Cinema, turn left and at the stop light make a right. Walk down past the hair salon and you will find the bus stop on your right).
  • Osaka and Kobe. Available from the taxi station across the street from Fresh Value. A one-way ticket is about 7,500 yen and can also be purchased at the travel agency on the 5th floor in Ozu’s Fuji Grand. You can also purchase bus tickets using Lawson’s Loppi Machines (Japanese only). Overnight or day buses available.
  • To/From Hijikawa. Runs four times a day; tickets around 740 yen depending on your starting point in Ozu
  • Within Ozu City. There is a pink Konan Kanko bus that runs around the main part of Ozu City. It costs 100 yen each time you ride it. It is a great and cheap way to get around town when it is too hot or cold to ride your bicycle.

Bicycle rental:

  • Bicycles are available to rent (400 yen) from Bicycle Shop Ninomiya (on the corner next to Fresh Value on the street in front of Ozu Station), or from Machi no Eki Asamoya. You usually must return them by 4:00pm, but the Ninomiya Shop sometimes makes exceptions if you ask nicely!

Shopping

Clothing

  • Uniqlo. Stocks some western sizes, but they are usually only slightly bigger than Japanese sizes. Plus sizes unavailable.
  • Shimamura. Cheap prices, mostly women’s clothing and accessories, although there is a men’s section. Carries larger shoe sizes and has a plus size section, although the styles are quite limited.

Home Improvement

  • Daiki. Kitchen appliances, home furnishings, garden, home repair, and other misc. items. Located near the Kimura chain, across the street from Tsutaya in Higashi Ozu.
  • Nitori. Ikea-esque home goods store (but much smaller!). Slightly pricier than Daiki but with better selections and designs, and still quite cheap for new products. A great place to go for bedding and towels, as well as seasonal decorations and items to make your place feel more like home. Located on Route 56.
  • Komeri. Similar to Daiki, but located in Nishi-Ozu on 234 heading towards Hirano.

Video and Music Rental

  • Tsutaya. Across the street from the game shop, near the Daiki.

Department Store

  • Fuji Grand. Full grocery store, liquor store, bakery, florist, bookstore, travel agency, hair stylist, clothing, household, cosmetics, shoes, toys, etc. There is an arcade with purikura on the top floor.
  • Ozu Messe. A huge shopping center located along highway 56, carries groceries (A-coop), clothes, garden, and floral décor, some furniture.

100 Yen Shops

  • Daiso. One is located inside Ozu Messe and other is located near the Fuji Grand, along route 56. Great for buying cheap everyday items.

Electronics

  • Best/Deo Deo/Denki. Located along route 56 near Ozu Cinema Sunshine. Carry everything from TVs, computers and computer supplies, washing machines, video cameras, bathroom electronics etc.
  • K’s Denki. Another massive electronics shop just past Marunaka on Route 56.

Sports Equipment

  • Sports Alpen. A large new sports store on 56 just past Marunaka and K’s Denki, with a large selection of sports equipment, clothing, and outdoor goods.
  • Daiya Sports. Located near Ozu station.

Second-hand Shop

  • Hard Off, Off House, also Book Off and Hobby Off (for those anime enthusiasts). Everything from used clothing, electronics, guitars, snowboards, lighting, etc. and low prices. They’ll even buy stuff (not for much but…if you must get rid of something). Located along Route 56.

Drug Stores

  • Lady Drug. Next to Off House and Hard Off on Route 56
  • Medico 21. Located at the stoplight Route 56/Route 24 junction leading to Nagahama
  • Cosmos. Across the street from Medico 21.

Supermarkets

  • Central Ozu: Fuji Grand • Fresh Value
  • Higashi Ozu: Marunaka • Kimura Chain • Lamus • Ozu Messe • Direx
  • Nishi Ozu: Shoppers (one across from the BOE; the other is on Route 56, through the tunnel leading to Yawatahama and past the Joyfull)

Convenience Stores (Konbini)

  • Higashi Ozu: Lawson. There are two located on Route 56, one next to Ozu Grand Central hotel, and the other is on route 56 located in Niiya town. There is one more Lawson across the street from Tsutaya and Ozu Nogyo High School. Circle K. Next to the Ozu gym.
  • Nishi Ozu: Circle K (on route 197 towards Yawatahama; further along 197 is a Lawson next to Ozu Hospital) Sunkus. Across from city hall on route 56.

Dining Out

  • Italian Restaurants
    • Locale (also serves an Italian style Quesadilla) - Located across the street from Fuji Grand, underneath Ben’s Café and on the same side of the street as Mr. Donuts
    • Duet - Located on the second floor above a stationary stop across from Fuji Grand
    • Pupile - Located in Niiya town, along highway 56 on the right hand side heading towards Uchiko. 15 min. walk from Niiya station. They also sell pottery and small gift items.
    • Pitt Street (small jazz/cocktail bar that serves pizza and pasta) - Located next to the big video rental shop along route 56.
  • Family and Fast-Food Restaurants
    • Gusto and 2 Joyfuls (home to the drink bar)
    • Mister Donuts (located near Iyo train station)
    • 2 McDonalds - One is on the 1st floor of the parking structure across from Fuji-Grand. The second is onlocated along highway 56 near Ozu Messe.
    • Royal Pizza Hat (free delivery)
    • Tomato Soup & Onion (located in Ozu Messe’s parking lot, next to the kaiten-sushi)
    • Mos Burger - Located on the right hand side along Highway 56 past Ozu Messe, heading towards Uchiko.
  • Japanese-style restaurants
    • 2 Kaiten-sushi restaurants - The new Hamazushi is on Route 56 next to Joyful, the second one is in the same shopping complex as Ozu Messe next to Tomato Soup & Onion.
    • Weckers (Okonomiyaki) - Located in Niiya town, 2 min walk from Niiya station.
    • Saoya. Okonomiyaki place in Nishi Ozu, across the street from the Kounan Community Center.
    • Marugame Udon. Udon restaurant located on the corner by the Fukushi Center on Route 56. Quick, cheap and tasty.
  • Chinese Restaurants
    • Hana Hana, (plus a few others)
    • Ne Ne. Located on Our Street, very distinguishable by its bright red decorations around the door.
  • Ramen
    • Fuku-chan Ramen. Known by locals as the best in Ozu. It is on the corner by Ozu Nogyo High School, on the road leading to Tsutaya. There is also a ramen truck parked around town in the evenings.
    • Ryoka. Near Cinema Sunshine.
  • Coffee shops
    • Ra Ri Ru Re Ro. Near the BOE and Ozu Castle; located across from the post office. The people that work there are all amazing dancers! Super friendly. Nice cakes.
    • Roy’s. Picturesque nostalgic interior, exquisite coffee and dessert. Great lunch and dinner menu, too. Sometimes has live jazz shows! Located behind Ozu Grand Hotel, just past the movie theater.
    • Café Nueue. Cute café that also sells European antiques and a few imported goods. Features nice bagel sandwiches (you can also buy the bagels to take home), and the staff there are very friendly. Across from Machi no Eki Asamoya, near Ozu Shrine and Ohanahan Street.
    • Community Café. On the street leading from the Red Brick Building to Asamoya, there is a small café. The owner is very friendly and often gives free sweets or tea afterwards. No full meals here, just tea/coffee/cake/ice cream, but it is a nice stop for a rest.
    • Sakura. Great sandwiches. Across from the McDonalds on route 56, behind the Docomo and next to the arcade. If you're craving legitimate Western burgers, this is the place to go.
    • Nyago. Located across from the Daiki Sign on 56. Daily lunch specials including a homemade tartar sauce lunch. The evenings feature a bar and more Italian fare, and the pizzas are quite tasty. There is a small terrace outside with a fireplace.
    • Café Audrey. Audrey Hepburn themed café. On the road opposite from the entrance to Our Street by the Hijikawa Bridge. It is on the left if coming from the bridge.

Leisure

  • Cinema Sunshine. Movie theater located along Route 56 across the street from Uniqlo. Those of the lady persuasion get discount prices on Wednesdays, while movie-goers of all genders get discount tickets on the 1st and 15th of each month. Discount tickets are 1100 yen.
  • Kayak/Canoe rental. Located on the Hijikawa river near the castle Arcades. One can be found on the 6th floor of Grand Fuji; there is another located next to the Sakura coffee shop behind the Docomo.
  • Onsen. Garyu no Yu is an onsen located near the town station (Machi-no-eki); it boasts a beautiful Japanese garden as well; there is another onsen, Oyu Hijikawa Onsen, with an attached hotel in Hijikawa on Route 197
  • Bowling. Aqua Bowling located on Route 56 next to Ozu Minami Junior High
  • Gym. A huge building located right next to the Circle K and near Kita elementary school. It has a weight room on the ground floor with machines and barbells that you can use for 150 yen per visit. You can also sign up for several classes at the front desk (volleyball, basketball, table tennis, badminton, kendo, yoga, aerobics, archery, etc.)
  • Indoor swimming pool. Located on route 197 in Nishi Ozu across the street from Ozu hospital.

Nightlife

Bars

  • Louis’. One of Ozu’s best bars! A blues bar going on 26 years in business where live gigs are held on a monthly basis. A great place to just kick back and eat great food (try the BLT). To get there, go down route 56 heading towards Yawatahama. When you cross the big bridge, turn left at the 3rd street before the Sunkus at the stoplight. You’ll find it on your right. (closed on Tuesdays)
  • Madd Happy Ink. Tattoo parlor by day, and bar by night! The owner is very friendly, fun, and happy to talk with ALTs. The prices are very reasonable for Japan (most drinks 500 yen), and they recently introduced an extensive hamburger menu. Sometimes there are DJ events. Located above Locale near Fuji.
  • 39. Located on Route 56, this is a nice chill place to go and has decent sized tables if you want to go with a bigger group. There is also a huge TV which they use to show sports games and such.
  • Liverpool. Liverpool is a Live House that features live music about once a month. Located on Our Street.

Karaoke

  • PAL. Located next to Café San Marche on Route 56. Features costumes you can wear while singing.
  • Maneki Neko. A is a nationwide chain. Located on 56 toward Nitori, across from Mos Burger.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

Tourism

  • Ozu Castle. A beautiful traditional castle originally built in 1331; the original was destroyed but fantastically reconstructed; entrance fee: 500 yen
  • Ozu Shrine. Tucked into a forested corner overlooking the city and the Hijikawa River.
  • Ohanahan Street. This street was the setting for a drama held in the 1960’s, and features several old buildings as well as a nice moat with koi fish. You can get ice cream or rent bicycles at the nearby Machi no Eki Asamoya.
  • Onsen. Garyu no Yu Onsen is located near Garyu Sanso shrine; from Route 56 turn left at the stoplight before the tunnel that leads to Yawatahama. Follow the road as it curves right around the bend and you will soon see it on your left.
  • Japanese sweets. Wagashi Shop is a small store that sells a variety of Japanese sweets and souvenirs; located at the bottom of the main steps leading to Ozu shrine.
  • Poko-pen. A market in Nishi Ozu that sells homemade wares and retro Japanese antiques. A great way to spend the day meeting the locals and shop for interesting Meiji-style souvenirs. (Open Sundays in early spring to late fall, 9am to 4pm)
  • Art Gallery. Check out the Ozu Art Gallery and Coffee Shop located next to Garyu Sanso, 2-story art gallery featuring local and national artists on a monthly basis, complete with a gift shop. (9am to 4pm)
  • Walk down “Our Street” to find tons of snack and karaoke bars!
  • Flower viewing. There is a huge flower field under the bright red bridge on the way into Nagahama that boasts beautiful flowers during different seasons throughout the year.

Festivals

  • Ozu Candle Light Festival (early March) A light festival featuring lanterns and candles placed in cups decorated by all the children of Ozu. There is live music, food vendors, and a fireworks display. Held on the castle grounds.
  • Hotaru Festival (early June) A weekend firefly festival in the towns of Yanagisawa and Tadokoro in the mountains by Niiya.
  • Iris Festival (early June) The Niiya area is famous for its garden featuring over 8000 Iris plants in hundreds of different varieties, some named after local places. There is an illumination of the flowers in the evening, a fireworks show, and food vendors on the first Saturday in June.
  • Hiji Festival (mid-July) This festival celebrates the heroine Hiji, who sacrificed herself to the river dragon god to stop the flooding of her town.
  • Summer Fireworks Festival (early-mid August) A two-day festival with good food and an excellent fireworks show! Many Lion Dances are also take place around the city from 7am to midnight.
  • Ozu Yosakoi Festival. Last Sunday of August. Takes place on the banks of the Hijikawa opposite the castle in Ryokuchi Park. Amazing traditional dance teams compete from all over Japan.
  • Cultural Festival (Saturday closest to November 3rd) Called Bunkasai in Japanese, this festival is located in the park along the river on the opposite to the side of the castle. Filled with traditional dance/music, tea ceremony, great food, and games.

Highlights

  • Garyu Boat Cruising. Enjoy a relaxing cruise as it meanders along a 200meter course on the Hijikawa river. Boats operate from April to the end of May on weekends and national holidays from 10am – 4pm. 100 yen one way. (approx. 6 min boat ride)
  • Mt. Tomisu Observatory. Offers a bird’s eye view of Ozu.
  • Mt. Tomisu Azaleas. The park features 63,000 azalea bushes and over 3,000 cherry trees. Best times of viewing are during the months of April and May. Parking is 500 yen during the festival.
  • Ukai (Cormorant Fishing). Available from June 1st – September 20th. This is an ancient and unique method of river fishing that takes place on the Hiji river running through Ozu. After sunset, Cormorant fishermen dressed in traditional garments handle 5-6 cormorants (a kind of bird). The cormorants dive and catch fish for the fisherman. You can reserve sightseeing packages which include a meal and drink as you watch this unique style of fishing. Reservations can be made at the surrounding local restaurants with Cormorant Fishing signs posted outside, or at the Ozu tourist center.