Honai Town 保内町
Honai is a pretty little town once you learn to look past the power pylons. The population is about 10,000.
Location / Access / Transport
- Honai is located approximately 60km from Matsuyama (about 10 minutes south of Yawatahama by car).
- There is no train station in Honai, and public transport is pretty average.
- It’s only a 20 minute bike ride (or faster drive/bus trip) to the train station in Yawatahama.
- Having a car is recommended in these parts if you get bored easily at home.
- By car: take either the scenic sea-road or go straight through the hill from Yawatahama. You go through Honai to get to Ikata, Seto and Misaki.
- Honai Shopping Centre: small bookstore, small clothes store, delicious cake shop, AU cell phone shop etc. There is also a little space inside the doors that sells takeaway dinner; Kimura Chain Supermarket (behind Lawson’s); bakery (opposite Kawanoishi High School).
- Lawson’s: opposite the BOE area; Circle K (one on same road as Kawanoishi High, other on same road as Honai Shopping Centre).
- 100yen (down from Lawsons towards Joyful); DIK
- Joyfull – turn left at Lawson’s, when driving from the sea, and go straight. Cheap, decent sized meals, open 24hours, 80yen drink bar.
- Somen Nagashi Restaurant – somen noodles in running water that you catch and eat. A beautiful location in the Heike-dani valley. Open only during the summer months. Ask a local for directions.
- Hokka Hokka Tei – beside the driving school, opposite the Circle K that’s close to Kawanoishi High School. Cheap bento meals, takeaway.
- Season is Alive Izakaya (Japanese-style pub). Really good izakaya, friendly atmosphere, good food.
- Sushi shop. Takeaway sushi, pretty good.
- Gorilla-kun – near Honai Bowl and the Pachinko Parlor.
- Okonomiyaki restaurant – in front of the Honai Shopping Centre.
- Gyuta – very popular yakiniku restaurant.
- Gym – costs 5000yen a month to use between 8-10pm each night. Good gym, indoor swimming pool and sauna.
- Various cultural things to do here and in Yawathama – pottery, calligraphy, martial arts, taiko drumming etc.
- Honai Bowl.
- There isn’t much of a nightlife in Honai. The coolest/ nicest/ only bar is behind the Lawson’s. It’s a bit expensive.
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Boardwalk between Honai Junior High School and a river. It’s really cool actually, with a lot of effort having been put into sculptures and lighting.
- The hills are fun to climb up with local kids, in the autumn and spring. They have beautiful views of the sunsets. The sunsets are spectacular. Drive along past the main post office towards Misaki and see the best sunsets and views you’ll see anywhere – especially in autumn when there are mikan everywhere.
- The Sada-Misaki Peninsula has some pretty beaches and the peninsula itself is apparently the longest in Japan. Even a nuclear power station to check out.
- Nice buildings from Japan’s “Modern” period (circa 1910-1940)
- The fall festival at Honai’s Mishima Jinja is highly recommended. Late October/early November, weekend date. Ushioni, itsutsu shika, karanishi etc, but of higher than average quality, and in a pleasing setting.
Yawatahama City 八幡浜市
Yawatahama is a coastal city, and is the hub of the surrounding coastal communities. It is home to about 41,000 people.
Website – http://www.city.yawatahama.ehime.jp
Location / Access / Transport
- By train: Yawatahama is on the main train line between Matsuyama (50 minutes, around 2,300yen – express train) and Uwajima (30 minutes, 1,150yen express train). Ozu is close by too (10 minutes 570yen – express train).
- By bus: There are buses to local places such as Mikame, Misaki, and there is a direct overnight to Osaka and Kyoto (for around 8,000yen).
- By ferry: Ferries to Beppu (famous for its onsen, monkey park – 1950yen one way) and Usuki (famous for its collection of stone Buddhas carved in rocks) in Oita-ken.
- Shoppers; 100yen store on the second floor of Daie
- Fuji supermarket is on the main road – go out of the station, turn left, and go straight for about 200 meters
- Shotengai (clothes, stationery, groceries)
- Daiki (kind of like a Home Depot)
- many little drugstores such as Lady Yakkyoku and Medico
- Lots of places in the shotengai (covered mall). To get to the shotengai from the station, turn left, go straight about 20 meters until you reach the lights and Fuji, turn right and then left onto a small street with a grocery shop on the corner. Keep going about 200 meters and you’ll come to the shotengai.
- More near the station
- Sports centre (near the harbour); swimming pool, gym, tennis/basketball courts, baseball field, aerobics, step, boxercise etc. (To get there, go along the shotengai, turn right when you see Lawsons. Go to the end of the shotengai. Turn left and walk around the city office and you’ll see the tennis courts in front of you.)
- There is a centre which has classes such as aikido and kendo up near Agao Junior High School.
- The bunka senta (cultural centre) has many classes such as pottery and (I believe) Chinese. From the train station, go left, past Fuji, until you come to the post office. Turn left, go across the river and you’ll see it.
- Taisho-yuu is an indoor bath in a building from circa 1920. It’s close to Fuji.
- SY Bar (popular with the local JETs, karaoke. From the train station, turn left and go straight, past the lights, past Fuji, until you come to the yellow Hokka Hokka Tei. Cross the road at Hokka Hokka Tei and go down the little street in front of you. Go up the stairs on the right hand side and SY Bar is the third or forth bar along.)
- Turf (popular karaoke bar. It’s just off the shotengai, near the big Iyo Bank.)
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- The “Kawanosu Hashira Shinji” festival is held in Kawanosu, on the third Saturday of April at Tenman Jinja/ and the surrounding area. Men cut down a 22 meter pine tree at dawn. After dressing the tree, they drag the truck around town, throw people in a river and the ocean during the morning/day. Ushi-oni at the shrine, then there is Kagura (a sacred Shinto entertainment dance) from 6.30pm to past midnight with a hair-raising, acrobatic, fiery finale. Not to be missed – this is a festival that still has much traditional flavor about it. The antithesis of something like the Ikata-cho Kinahaya festival.
- Nice building from Japan’s “Modern” period (circa 1910-1940)
- Shikoku’s first bomb shelter was built in Yawatahama, and it’s open for free tours (pretty small).
- Bike ride alont the harbour from Yawatahama to Honai is really nice and it’s quite an easy ride (only one hill). It’s particularly nice at dusk.
- Yahata-jinja (a Shinto shrine) at the start of the shotengai is quite nice.
- Fish Market – held on the second Sunday of every month. Website – http://www.y-minatomachi.net/oshirase/kaisenichi/kaisenichi.html Where you can buy fresh fish as well as other local produce and even have a little barbeque (bbq seating/coals/tongs provided, buy your own food, knives, extra seasonings etc). Bring friends and have loads of delicious fun!
- There’s an internet café above (second floor) the Docomo shop, across the road from Fuji.