Iyo City (伊予市) is a seaside city located south of Masaki. It is a result of the merger of three towns in 2005: The original Iyo City founded in 1955, commonly referred to as Gunchū (郡中); the town of Nakayama (中山町), a small town located in a valley southeast of the main urban center, just between mountains; and the town of Futami (双海町), which is a seaside town due south of the main urban center. It has a population of 35,888 spread over an area of 194.44 km2.
Although Iyo is a small city that can be technically referred to as a “satellite city” of Matsuyama, the city is famous in Japan for two things: The Yamaki Soy Sauce Factory located in Gunchū; and Shimonada Station, a picturesque location in Futami that has been a shooting location for famous Japanese movies such as Spirited Away (2008) by Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki.
Currently, there are 6 JETs in the city, all working for the ALT position.
Coordinates: 33°45′N 132°42′E
Here are some of the most popular attractions in Iyo.
Iyo (Gunchū) Area
Goshikihime Seaside Park
10 minutes from Iyoshi Station, Goshikihime Seaside Park is a popular summer spot for residents and tourists alike. This swimming area is open for swimmers from June to the end of August. There is also a small outdoor pool, but it is usually crowded with elementary school students. Beach volleyball and ultimate Frisbee are also popular activities in this area.
Every March, there is the Festival of the Five Princesses. Legend has it that five beautiful princesses once sat at that beach but were suddenly turned into stones according to the colour of their kimono. Now, the city honours their memory each year with a new group of local “princesses” and parading them around town before sending them off on a boat at the beach.
Iyo Inari Shrine
Iyo has its own Fushimi Inari in its backyard. Shouichi-i Iyo Inari features possibly the largest and most ornate hirairi-zukuri style hall in all of Chuyo. However, this shrine’s main attraction is its hillside walkway lined by 36 red torii, leading to a small, walk-in shrine at the top. It’s not quite as long as Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine, but Shouichi-i Iyo Inari provides its own simulation for those looking for the experience without the hassle of traveling to Kyoto.
Can you find all 43 torii? There’s one large torii from Taisho 8 (1919) placed in a strange location most people will overlook.
Ehime Forest Park and Mt. Tagami
This mountain is located directly behind Iyoshi and can only be accessed by car. It is also a very nice hike. But be careful as some points of the road are quite steep. The lookout can be accessed at any time of the year, but it is most beautiful during sakura season. You can see the entire Iyo plain from the observatory.
The Ehime Forest Park recently underwent some renovations, with a new swing set that is also a photo spot installed in 2022.
Shimonada Station is arguably one of Japan’s most well known train stations. Even though it is located 10 minutes outside of the town center, the most redeeming feature of this station is its view of the Seto Inland Sea. This station is very popular with tourists and photographers, and has been either a setting or an inspiration for many well known Japanese movies such asﾠSpirited Away (2008).ﾠ
Futami Seaside Park
Futami Seaside Park is a rest area with a beach and a park located north of Shimonada Station. It is a popular destination for couples, with the wishing stone, or negai-ishi, as the centrepiece of the park. This park is included in the list of Top 100 places to see the sunset in Japan.
Midori Elementary School
Surrounded by the mountains of Kaminada Kubo, Midori Elementary School is the oldest standing school building in Ehime Prefecture, dating back 85 years. Unlike the archetypal school building found throughout Ehime Prefecture, this school building is one of the few remaining that is made with wood.