Akehama Town 明浜町

Description

Akehama is a beautiful little coastal town made up of six small communities scattered along the coast. Tawarazu (俵津) is the largest with a population of about 800 people. Sehama is a little out of the way, but well worth the trek on a fine day! The total population of Akehama is approximately 3,800.


Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: The easiest way to get to Akehama is by car. Turn off Route 56 just after Uwa if you are heading to Uwajima (before the tunnel).
  • Bus: Accessible via buses heading to Unomachi Station.
  • * For a nice getaway, take a bus toward Tawarazu where you transfer to Osozu. Once there, relax on the 300-meter white-sand beaches, play some beach volleyball, or try their ocean kayaking!

Shopping

  • Although there isn’t much shopping, Akehama has all the basic necessities – post office, grocery store and bakery.

Dining Out

  • Check out the two restaurants at the Akehama Seaside Park! There are also beautiful log cabins which can be rented out at an affordable price during the winter months. Perfect for nabe parties!

Leisure

  • Hama Yu (はま湯). A salt water onsen located on hill directly above Osozu!
  • Osozu. A man-made beach. Opens “officially” every year between the end of July until the end of August.

Tourism / Highlights

  • Akehama Rekishi Minzoku Shiryo-kan. A folk museum with fishing supplies, pictures, and local tools from the people of Akehama throughout the years.


Mikame Town 三瓶町

Description

Lying on the coast between Yawatahama to the north and Akehama to the south and with a population of about 9,000, Mikame is a great place to come on a beautiful day. Biking along the coast (Route 376) is amazing but it takes about 2.5 hours.


Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: You can get there by driving along the coastal roads but the quickest paths are either Route 26 from Yawatahama or Route 30 from Uwa.
  • Train: No direct train access.

Supermarkets

  • Look for Otani and A-coop!

Shopping Centers

  • Gintengai and Okaido. Mikame has a covered shopping street similar to its larger counterparts in Matsuyama.
  • Shiosaikan (Mikame Sea Station). A central tourist stop located on the main road right on the wharf. Here you can buy local produce, souvenirs, really nice tasting soft-serve ice cream and takoyaki, kara-age (fried chicken) and other tasty foods and snacks. You can also stock up on fishing gear and spend the day fishing either just outside the Shiosaikan or at a number of locations along the coast. The Shiosaikan is also home to the Mikame aquarium which hosts the village- famous MANBO fish (sunfish). 100 yen will get you a ticket inside.

Dining Out

A good place to start if you’re hungry is the shopping arcade!

Japanese:

  • Noritake. A shabu-shabu restaurant. (Closed Sundays)
  • Ikoi. Yakitori (grilled chicken) restaurant.
  • Izumiya. A restaurant with sushi, other Japanese food, and a really nice chef.
  • Sakawaki. An izakaya with very tasty, cheap food and kind and friendly staff.
  • Asanaro. Okonomiyaki restaurant.
  • Isaka. Okonomiyaki restaurant. (Closed Sundays)
  • Warabe. Japanese snack bar.

Chinese:

  • Koraku. Located behind the JHS.
  • Rairaiken. Across from the A-Coop. (Closed Wednesdays)

If you drive south, right before the sub-village Shimodomari, you will get to the Sea Side Uwakai Restaurant (but you need to make a reservation for this).


Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Shrines and Gardens. Drive from the main village north along the coastal road (towards Yawatahama), pass Susaki peninsula (after the sub-village Nagahaya, but before Shuki) and there you are. Another shrine passed Shimodomari, is dedicated to the gods of fish. Follow the signs from Minae.
  • Autumn Festival. August 14th - 17th
  • Illumination and Tree Lighting. November 20th
  • Kumoko Miyanaka Music Festival. Held at the end of November
  • Oyakushi-sama. April 8th
  • Gion Festival. July 14th

Accommodation

  • Seaside Uwakai. The same place as the restaurant mentioned above. Check in at 3pm and out at 10am. 6,500 yen/night with two meals included. TEL: 0894-34-0770
  • Mikame Honkan. A stone’s throw from the Shiosaikan. 5,250 yen/night, no meals. TEL: 0894-33-2001


Nomura Town 野村町

Description

Nomura is a friendly dairy town located between Uwa and Shirokawa on Route 441. It’s famous for sumo, dairy cows, the annual Lake Asagiri half marathon and its 400-year old history of Japanese papermaking (senkashi).


Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: To/From Uwa and Shirokawa: 20-minute drive ; To/From Ozu: 45-minute drive along Route 441
  • Bus: There are buses from Uwa which run from Unomachi Train Station and Uwa Bus Station. Nomura’s bus station is located right in the middle of town.

Supermarkets

  • Fuji Mart. (open 9am to 9pm)
  • A-Coop. (open 9am-8pm).

Bakery

  • Noble. A very popular bakery on the main street between the two supermarkets - check it out! (open from 7am until 8pm, closed Mondays).

Dining Out

Japanese:

  • Torigoya. Yakitori (bbq chicken on a skewer) restaurant on the main street.
  • Aoi Kei. Ramen shop. Nothing fancy, but nothing is over 1000 yen except the “Chinese Lunch Set”. Located around the corner from the JA Nomura. (Opens at 8:30 pm). Don’t Miss It!

Italian:

  • Peppini. An Italian restaurant in front of the sumo stadium; has pasta and pizza. They also do an all-you-can-eat-and-drink deal.
  • White Farm. Excellent Japanese-Italian fare including yummy pasta and cakes! They can also cater for large groups. Located just up the hill just past the dam.

Leisure

  • Otoi no Satokaroto Onsen. A beautiful hot spring located inside the Otoi Sumo Stadium. (open from 10am until 8:30pm, closed Thursdays). Stop in to relax or get a nice meal!
  • Hiking/Geology Buffs. Check out the Shikoku Karst way up on the roof of Shikoku in Onogahara. After making the hike and enjoying the beautiful scenery and geological uniqueness of the area, you can relax by watching the herds of grazing dairy cows that populate the area! The karst is part of a park that is also connected to Kochi’s Tengu Highlands. There’s also a road you can follow that goes through the mountains all the way to Matsuyama that is quite gorgeous in the fall. The easiest way to get there is to follow the signs that start in Shirokawa up in the mountains. You might want to pack a light sweater, as the weather remains cool even through May.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Otoi Sumo Festival. Held annually over two days at the end of November for both child and adult wrestlers. Anyone with an interest in Japan’s national sport should check this out. It’s the only sumo tournament in Japan where both amateurs and professionals compete. Kids as young as 6 years old take part and every year two famous sumo wrestlers attend. 2014 will be the 163rd tournament. It began way back in 1852 to ward off further fire storms after 100 houses were destroyed in a huge inferno. The sumo stadium, which opened in 2005, was modelled on the one in Tokyo. It also houses a small sumo museum (free entry) and the onsen (see: Leisure).
  • Nomura Dam. Beautiful in the springtime and early summer. A big summer fireworks festival is held every August. At Christmas time there are illuminations.


Shirokawa 城川町

Description

Meaning “Castle River”, Shirokawa is a small mountain town with 4,800 residents bordering eastern Kochi. Despite the name, there is no castle in this town! Its name is actually the result of a combination of the names of the four villages it encompasses. It’s a beautiful area, and the Ryutaku Temple and Shirokawa Geological Museum are must-see attractions.


Location / Access / Transport

  • Car: Shirokawa is located along Route 197, between Ozu and Kochi. To/From Ozu: 30 minute drive. To/From Uwajima: 40 minute drive.
  • Bus: Buses from Uwajima and Nomura are available, but they are pretty infrequent.

Grocery shopping

  • A-coop. The biggest supermarket in Shirokawa; located in Doi; however, we recommend the A-coop in Nomura for a better selection Organic Foods Michi-no-eki.
  • In the rest stop (michi-no-eki) along Route 197, there is a farmer’s market-style specialty grocer who sells a lot of organic meat and vegetables

Convenience store

  • Yamazaki. Near Hosenbo in Furuichi.

Dining Out

Japanese:

  • Kuwaterume. A restaurant with ramen, udon, and soba located inside Hosenbo Onsen. Last order at 8:30pm on the weekends. (Closed on Wednesdays.)
  • Kinahaiya. Restaurant with ramen, udon, and curry. Big servings. Try the sausages! (Closed on Tuesdays.)
  • Baribari. Yakiniku restaurant in Takanoko just down the street from Hosenbo.
  • Chabotei. Mini bar and restaurant that offers local cuisine. Two minutes down Route 197 by car from Hosenbo.

Nightlife

  • Marchen. Karaoke bar opposite the restaurants. It’s a foreign-friendly place, and also has a cheap and cheerful restaurant with a picture menu. Can’t find it? Look for the tacky blue building!

Leisure

  • Doi Athletic Grounds – good place to find some walking trails around Doi.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Gallery Shirokawa. Unique display of kamaboko board art. Artists from around the world have donated thousands of decorated boards, making for an interesting display. Located just behind the Shirokawa Town Office.
  • Hosenbo Onsen. Must see - the pride of Shirokawa!
  • Ryutakuji Temple is beautiful, particularly in the cherry blossom season. The temple itself is over 600 years old and is surrounded by a really nice park. There are cabins you can stay at during the warmer months, and a great (but slightly painful) roller slide.
  • Doronko Matsuri (Mud Festival). Come down to Doi in July when mud wrestling traditions – passed down in via an old farmer’s story – attract hundreds of photographers from all over Japan!
  • O-bon. Hosted at the elementary schools. Music and food stalls.

Accommodation

  • Hosenbo Onsen. Very nice, reasonably priced accommodations are available at the onsen complex. Tell them you want the “Economy Plan” and that’ll give you a bed for 3,000 yen. Want breakfast with that? Just throw in another 500 yen when you pay. Best part? 10% off the onsen when you stay at the lodges! (Closed Wednesdays)


Uwa Town 宇和町

Description

Uwa is the central town in Seiyo, and is home to Museum of Ehime History and Culture and the Renge Festival. Uwa is agricultural and is known for its rice, beans, and soy products.

Website – http://www.city.seiyo.ehime.jp/


Location / Access / Transport

Uwa is located on Route 56, between Ozu and Uwajima.

  • Car: Uwa is located on Route 56, between Ozu and Uwajima.
  • By train: Unomachi Station (klSc) – 15 minutes south of Yawatahama and 15 minutes north of Uwajima. Express and non-express lines.

Bus:

  • To Matsuyama/Uwajima. Multiple stops available.
  • To Nomura. Multiple stops available.
  • To Osaka/Kobe. Overnight buses are available.

Supermarkets

  • Fuji Grand. Located on Route 56 next to a 100-yen shop, Tsutaya (movie/CD rental, and books), The Casual (clothing and homeware), McDonalds, Mr. Donuts and more.
  • Shoppers. Located on the road to Nomura.
  • 100 Yen Shop Daiso. Located next to the Fuji.
  • Grand on Route 56.

Clothing shops

  • Wake Sports. Located next to McDonald’s.
  • The Casual. Located along Route 56 toward Ozu.
  • Shimamura. Located along Route 56 toward Ozu.

Other shops

  • Yamada Denki. Located along Route 56 toward Ozu.
  • Books, Video and Music Rental Tsutaya. Located next to the Fuji Grand on Route 56.
  • Coffee and Imported Spirits Summit. Located near Fuji Grand on Route 56.

Dining Out

Family restaurants:

  • Joyfull. Restaurant with Japanese and Western-style cuisine. Has a picture menu and is open late. Located on Route 56.
  • Yuuboku no Sato (ゆうぼくの里). Good menu, some “western-style” café food with a rustic lodge atmosphere. Lunch prices are reasonable, dinner is pricey. Cakes and coffee are good. Attached to the restaurant is a butcher.

Fast food:

  • McDonald’s. Located next to the Fuji Grand on Route 56.
  • Mr. Donuts. Donuts and coffee. Lots of unique seasonal flavors.

Asian fusion:

  • Oine.

Japanese:

  • Toyo-ken. Yakiniku restaurant near Unomachi Station.
  • Kushihiro. Yakiniku restaurant near Unomachi Station.
  • Kikusui. Okonomiyaki restaurant.
  • Kanonsui. Soumen-nagashi restaurant (cold noodles). A must try!
  • Maruhide. Kaiten (conveyor-belt) sushi restaurant.

Chinese:

  • Shanghai-ken. Chinese restaurant near Montelibro.
  • Maiko. Near Montelibro.

Café:

  • There is a café and pottery store (only open on weekends) located right outside of Uwa when coming from Yawatahama. It’s peaceful and great for lovely Japanese presents!

Leisure/Nightlife

  • Loop. Darts and pool hall. Located on Route 56, behind the AU-shop next to Joyfull.
  • Dolphin. Dart and pool hall located near Fisherman’s Bar.
  • Uwa Sports Park – beautiful during hanami!
  • Various sports and hobby clubs around town – Japanese sign language on Thursday nights at the Chuo Community Centre (third floor of the BOE building).
  • Very!. Karaoke bar located behind Unomachi Station by the river.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Museum of Ehime History and Culture. Museum with permanent and rotating exhibits. English audio sets are available. There is also a folk art museum in the area.
  • Kaimei Gakko. Antique school which is now a museum
  • Nakan-cho. Small street restored to its Edo Period appearance.
  • Bunkakaikan. Performance center with various events during the year
  • Renge Matsuri. (April) Mud soccer, food stalls, dancing, and a giant straw mammoth – a major highlight!
  • Meiseki Temple. Just along the road from the prefectural museum, 43rd Temple in the historic Shikoku pilgrimage.