Take a day trip to nearby Saijo to see a temple with a difference. Designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando in 2000, this sleek, minimalist Buddhist site reinterprets the classic principles of temple architecture in a contemporary way, incorporating original 250-year-old elements into its design.
Swap big cities for quaint townships at historic Uchiko, a small traditional town around 25 miles outside of Matsuyama. With buildings from the Edo and Meiji periods, Uchiko boasts a wonderful historic ambience, with an old kabuki theater, a wax-making museum, old merchant houses, and a kite museum.
Experience an unforgettable journey across the Seto Inland Sea on this 50-mile highway that links Shikoku to Honshu. Part of the trip traverses Kurushima-KaikyÅ Bridge, a three-part suspension bridge totaling more than 13,000 feet in length. Thereâ€™s a dedicated pedestrian/cycling lane for those wanting to take in the sights at a more leisurely pace.
Prepare for something a little different with a visit to Imabari Towel Museum, where all things towel come to life. Thereâ€™s a towel manufacturing area where visitors can observe the towel-making process, towel â€œsculpturesâ€ of iconic figures, various towel merchandise, and an onsite cafÃ©.
Bathe as the imperial family once did in an original 19th-century bathhouse at Japanâ€™s oldest and most famous hot springs. Dogo Onsen Honkan was built during the Meiji period and features a network of narrow wooden corridors and private rooms. This honkan was said to have inspired the design of the bathhouse in Miyazakiâ€™s animation Spirited Away.
Discover 19th-century Europe in the hills of Matsuyama at Bansuisou Villa, a French Gothic-style mansion built in 1922 by local nobility. Today this wonderfully preserved villa serves as an art gallery, showcasing works from prominent Japanese artists.
Delve into some Japanese culture at Saka no Ue no Kumo Museum (â€œClouds Above the Hillâ€), named after a book by historical novel and essay writer RyÅtarÅ Shiba. The novel â€“ and museum â€“ deals with Matsuyama history during the Meiji period, and includes information about the novelâ€™s key protagonists as they pertain to the birth of the city.
Visit one of the islandâ€™s most important temples â€“ Ishite-ji, a Shingon temple that comprises part of the â€œShikoku 88â€ pilgrimage route. The site houses a number of Important Cultural Properties and boasts structures that date to the 13th and 14th centuries.
See one of Matsuyamaâ€™s must-visit attractions â€“ Matsuyama Castle. Built on top of Katsuyama (a flat-topped mountain), it is one of only 12 â€œoriginalâ€ castles, intact since the end of feudal Japan, dating back to 1603, though it was rebuilt in 1868. With 200 sakura trees and views extending to the ocean, it is one of the cityâ€™s most picturesque sites.