Visit the Abandoned Hotel, Tenjō-ji Temple & More at Mount Maya in Kobe
11.June.2019 | SPOT
A new category added to the Cool Japan Award―which is run by the Cool Japan Association―is “National Park,” which was claimed by Mount Maya in Kobe in May this year for its nighttime scenery.
Mount Maya is one of the major peaks of the Rokkō Mountains in Nada, Kobe and stands at a towering 702m high. Located close to the main city of Kobe, those who reach its apex will be able to see many different sights such as Kobe, Osaka, the Kii Peninsula, and Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. Maya is popular not just with tourists and sightseers, but Kobe locals too who visit it with families to eat bento, or those who take their special somebodies to observe the nightscape.
Located on Mount Maya is Tenjō-ji, a temple which the mountain’s name has its origins in. This year marks the run of a special event which is held at the temple once every 33 years. Visitors can also go on a guide walk to an abandoned hotel which is normally off limits to the public.
Let’s take an in-depth look at all the exciting things one can do at Mount Maya.
Tenjō-ji Temple, Mount Maya
The originator of Mount Maya’s name
Tenjō-ji can be found wrapped in nature at the peak of Mount Maya in its National Park. Visitors can enjoy all weathers atop the mountain as the seasons change, but if you go on a clear day, you’ll be able to observe as far as Awaji Island, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, and Shōdoshima. The history of this temple―the only one in Japan to have been built by Maya-bunin―dates back to the year 646 when the high priest of India accepted Emperor Kōtoku’s request to build it. Maya-bunin, the mother of Buddha, is prayed to as a guardian of safe childbirth and child rearing. This is where Mount Maya gets its name.
The door to three hidden Buddhist statues opened once every 33 years
Once every 33 years, a door is opened at the palace to reveal three hidden Buddhist idols: the Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara, Acala, and Vaiśravaṇa. For the duration of its opening this August, Buddhist sermons will be given three times a day (10:30/12:00/14:00), and visitors will be able to obtain an exclusive goshuin stamp.
Running: August 1, 2019 – August 15, 2019
Time: 10:00-16:00 (Until 17:00 for this event)
Tour guide walk to Mount Maya’s historic ruins
~Stroll around and trace the history of Mount Yama~
As well as the temple, Mount Yama formerly bustled with people looking to dine and as well as stay in the accommodation there. After the war and earthquake disasters, a campaign began to restore life to Mount Maya, one part of which is a tour guide walk to the historic ruins.
This includes a trip to the former Tenjō-ji temple site as well as the abandoned hotel which is off limits to the general public.
Mount Maya’s Nightscape
~An internationally recognised landscape~
Mount Maya has been awarded the Cool Japan Award 2019 in the new National Park category for its gorgeous evening view from which one can see Kobe’s streets, the port and more.
If you’re planning a trip to Kobe be sure to use this article as reference!
Enjoy Contemporary Art in Nature with the ‘Rokko Meets Art -Art Walk 2021-‘
14.September.2021 | SPOT
The Kobe Tourism Bureau will be opening the limited time ‘Rokko Meets Art -Art Walk 2021-‘ tour on Kobe City’s Rokko Sanjo between September 11 and November 24 2021.
Rokko Mountain was developed as a leisure spot by foreign residents during the Meiji Era, and is still beloved to this day for its magnificent views and abundant nature.
The ‘Rokko Meets Art -Art Walk-‘ tour opened in 2010 in order to convey the charms of Mt. Rokko to as many people as possible while introducing them to contemporary art. Over 400 artist groups have exhibited since its opening, with visitors being able to enjoy the innovative works and scenery which changes with the art.
The ‘Rokko Meets Art -Art Walk-‘ is not only for art fans but also for those who wish to visit Mt. Rokko for sightseeing and leisure, allowing each visitor to experience art with their five senses as the seasons change.
Some pieces are modified by the artist throughout the exhibition period, allowing you to feel the changes of the works each time you visit. Due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions, opportunities to come into contact with nature and art have greatly decreased. In response, the ‘Rokko Meets Art -Art Walk-‘ has started a variety of projects, including online exhibitions and workshops.
Experience this fun combination of nature and contemporary art for yourself at the ‘Rokko Meets Art -Art Walk 2021-!’
Rokko Meets Art -Art Walk 2021-
Duration: September 11 ~ November 23 2021
Opening Hours: 10:00 ~ 17:00
Location: 12 spots throughout Rokko Sanjo
Satellite Venue: Arima Onsen Area
JR Sannomiya Station Square Special Exhibition: ‘Rokko Meets Art -Art Walk-‘ Selection
Tickets・Official Site: https://www.rokkosan.com/art2021/
Anime Theme Park Nijigen no Mori to Hold Second Kakashi & Obito-themed Escape Game
A special event is coming to the Naruto-themed area of Nijigen no Mori, an anime theme park located on Awaji Island in Hyogo prefecture! The Naruto Shippuden x Escape Game: #009 Kakashi & Obito event is taking place from August 21 to October 10!
A look at NARUTO & BORUTO Shinobizato
A look at the game
Participation bonus: 4 special wooden phone straps with new illustrations
The first escape game in the series was held in 2020 to positive feedback. It was first held to celebrate Kakashi’s birthday, which is September 15, and all visuals of both him and Obito are completely new and made for the event.
Guests can also write their celebratory messages on special ‘petal stickers’ and place them on the character panel of their choice!
Would you like to come celebrate Kakashi’s birthday?
©Masashi Kishimoto ／Shueisha・TV Tokyo・Pierrot
Naruto Shippuden x Escape Game: #009 Kakashi & Obito
Running: August 21-October 10, 2021
Opening Hours: 10:00-20:00
Estimated Play Time: 30 minutes
Nijigen no Mori
Address: 2425-2 Kusumoto, Awaji, Hyogo
Official Website: https://nijigennomori.com/
Japan’s Poké Lid Project Lays Down New Manhole Covers in Hyogo Prefecture
Three new Pokémon manhole covers were unveiled in Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture on August 11, as part of the Poké Lid project. The new designs depict the legendary Pokémon Lugia, Bayleef, Aromatisse, and Cloyster. These are the first Poké Lids to be placed in Hyogo.
Including these new additions, the total number of Pokémon-themed manhole covers across Japan is now 201. The project began with the installation of a Eevee manhole cover in Ibusuki City, Kagoshima Prefecture in December 2018.
Each one features completely original Pokémon art, and going on a pilgrimage to visit each of them has become a popular new fad. The project aims to promote local tourism by using these internationally-loved characters.
There are also plans to turn each cover into Pokéstops, used in the popular location-based Pokemon GO smartphone game.
Which Poké Lid would you like to find first?
©2021 Pokémon. ©1995-2021 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc.
Pokemon, Pokémon and Pokémon are registered trademarks of Nintendo, Creatures and Game Freak.
Official Site: https://local.pokemon.jp/manhole
‘átoa,’ Part Art Museum and Part Aquarium, Opening in Kobe
12.August.2021 | SPOT
Blending living creatures with art, átoa, a new urban aquarium, will open in Kobe’s Shinkocho on October 29, 2021. New images have just been revealed, and we now have an idea of what the interior will look like!
‘átoa’ comes from a combination of the words ‘aquarium’ and ‘art,’ and as the name suggests, the space will blend over 100 pieces of digital and performance art with 3,000 ocean creatures to provide a never-before-seen experience.
The exterior of the Kobe Port Museum looks like a contemporary art gallery
The stairway leads guests to a cave entrance, making the visit feel more like an adventure
‘MARIN NOTE – The Movement of Life’ embodies underwater life
‘ELEMENTS – The Forest of Spirits’ welcomes you to a foggy sea of trees
Light cutout show by famed cutout artist Atsumi Sakai
A mysterious walk through a traditional Japanese garden
‘PLANETS,’ a journey through the darkness of outer space and the deep sea
Food & drink offerings worthy of posting on social media
A spectacular view of the Kobe Bay area
átoa original products on sale
Rokko, the land on which Kobe City sits, is said to have been formed over one million years ago by the upheaval of the Earth and consistent water erosion. The Kobe Port Museum (KPM), where átoa is located, has long attracted visitors with its unique exterior, embodying the ancient origins of the surrounding lands.
átoa will be divided into eight different zones, each with its own theme and distinctive presentation. Visitors will first enter the ‘Cave of Beginnings,’ where fish-shaped lights reflected on the walls and floor lead you deeper into the space, as if through a kaleidoscope.
After emerging, ‘MARIN NOTE – The Movement of Life,’ a visual embodiment of underwater life, will greet you. The sound and scents of the sea will surround guests, with a cylindrical water tank at the center of the room filled with zebra sharks, spotted garden eels, and many more underwater creatures.
On the second floor, enter ‘ELEMENTS – The Forest of Spirits,’ a foggy sea of trees straight out of a fairy tale. This is where you can find freshwater fish, amphibians, and adorable tree-dwelling animals not typically found in aquariums, like woodchucks! This is another highlight of átoa: you might find more animals you wouldn’t expect!
The third floor houses both ‘MIYABI’ and ‘PLANETS,’ where guests can enjoy a ‘theatrical aquarium experience.’ Discover Atsumi Sakai’s famed cutout art in the ‘MIYABI’ area, meant to simulate a Japanese garden. Enjoy the magical experience of fish swimming just beneath your feet as you stroll along a glass-covered floor.
The ‘PLANETS’ area houses AQUA TERRA, one of Japan’s largest spherical water tanks, with a diameter of 3 meters. Guests are welcome to ponder the vastness of both outer space and the deepest stretches of the sea. The area is bathed in the light of countless stars thanks to optical fibers embedded in the floor, while mist will continuously pour from above.
Housed on the fourth floor, an outdoor exhibit, the ‘SKYSHORE Sky Garden,’ will soothe your soul as you play with only the most adorable marine life, from penguins to otters. This is also where visitors can enjoy the átoa cafe, offering a lineup of Instagram-worthy food and drink.
The observation deck ‘ROOF TOP’ also provides a breathtaking view of Kobe. Whether you visit during day or night, take in the views of Kobe Harborland and Meriken Park to your heart’s content. A full museum shop will be stocked with adorable plushies and other original products.
Address: 7-2, Shinkocho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo
Open Date: October 29, 2021
Hours: 10:00-21:00 (Open Every Day)
Official Site: https://atoa-kobe.jp
Pâtissier-Inspired Shaved Ice Flavors Available at Kobe Minato Onsen Ren for Limited Time
There’s no better way to combat a heat wave than enjoying a cool bowl of shaved ice! Natural hot spring resort Kobe Minato Onsen Ren, overlooking Kobe Port, is releasing a gorgeous new style of this popular summer treat. Called Fluffed Ice, it offers a slightly more sophisticated flavor, and serves as the perfect way to cool off for adults escaping the hustle and bustle of the sweltering city.
Fluffed Ice, uniquely designed by a pastry chef: ¥900 each (Tax Included)
Fukuju (Nada’s Famous Sake)
Uji Green Tea and Hokkaido Azuki
By filtering the water and freezing it at a slower rate, the shaved ice is completely pure and free of any and all impurities. Visitors can enjoy four different flavors: Setouchi Lemon, a refreshing blend of acidity and white chocolate; Fujuku, which contains locally-sourced sake and sweet syrup; Strawberry, offering a mix of sweet and sour; and, finally, Uji Matcha and Hokkaido Azuki, elegantly mixing flavors from both northern and southern Japan. The syrup used is made from scratch, and was developed by the pâtissier of Le Pan Kobe Kitano, a bakery and sweets shop nearby.
During this incredibly hot summer, give this new Fluffed Ice a try!
Location: Ocean Spa ‘Poolside Bar,’ Restaurant Suiren
Available Until: September 30, 2021
Official Site: https://ren-onsen.jp/event/fuwakoori/
Naruto and Boruto Summer Event Begins at Nijigen no Mori
Nijigen no Mori, an amusement park located on Awaji Island in Hyogo, began a summer event at its Naruto and Boruto-themed zone on July 22 which is set to run until September 30.
The event includes a huge water gun event where 25 litres of water will be sprayed to cool down guests during the hot summer event. With themed character panels displayed around the park, join Naruto and the gang, including Zabuza and Haku, for some summer fun. All guests receive a free original sticker too.
© 岸本斉史 スコット／集英社・テレビ東京・ぴえろ
Running: July 22, 2021 – September 30, 2021
Location: Nijigen no Mori
Opening Hours: 10:00-18:00
Price: Free (But park entry payment required)
Official Website: https://nijigennomori.com/naruto_shinobizato/
Milkshake Shaved Ice and Milk Frozen Desserts Served Up at Motosue in Hyogo
20.July.2021 | FOOD
The new Motosue Hanare has opened next to Motosue Kurakuen in Hyogo where they are selling a range of desserts including the Milkshake Shaved Ice and Milk Frozen.
Milkshake Shaved Ice Pudding | ¥1,290 (Tax Included)
Milkshake Shaved Ice Sweet Potato | ¥1,350 (Tax Included)
Milkshake Shaved Ice Matcha Adzuki | ¥1,200 (Tax Included)
Milk Frozen Chocolate Banana | ¥650 (Tax Included)
Milk Frozen Strawberry | ¥720 (Tax Included)
Eggy Bread | ¥750 (Tax Included)
Using milkshake as the base ingredients, the shave ice line-up gets its super fluffy texture from free range eggs. There are three flavours to enjoy, such as the pudding one which is topped with a whole Japanese pudding, adding a smooth and velvety texture to the fluffy shaved ice. Each is a perfect pick for cooling down during the summer season.
The ‘Milk Frozen’ desserts use frozen milk for the base and are topped with fruit. Each is made carefully handmade one by one, and they are even more refreshing than the shave ices. The eggy breads also come in a range of flavours including plain and custard.
Japanese Shop Name: 本巣ヱ 離れ
Address: 1-28 Kikutanichō, Nishinomiya, Hyogo 662-0078, Japan
Access: 3-minutes from Kurakuenguchi Station
Opening Hours: 10:00-19:00 (Last Orders 18:30)
Closed: Every 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month
Official Website: https://supertamago.com/
Hello Kitty Summer Event Themed On the Undersea Palace Princess Oto-hime Kicks Off in Hyogo
The Hello Kitty media art facility and restaurant HELLO KITTY SMILE on Awaji Island kicked off a summer event on July 1. Titled “HELLO KITTY SMILE Oto-hime Ryugu-jo Beach Summer Festival,” the event is set to run until the end of August.
Digital fireworks set the summer vibe
Catch your own Sanrio figure
Decorate your own Sanrio character ceramic
Children’s meal at the Party Terrace
Hello Kitty afternoon tea at the Party Balcony
Spicy tortilla at the Garden Terrace
The event is themed on Oto-hime, the princess of the underwater palace Ryugu-jo which features in the Japanese folktake of Urashima Taro. It focuses on Hello Kitty and is a celebration of Bon odori, a type of dance that takes place during the Japanese summertime Bon Festival. Hello Kitty performs the dance on stage, and the audience can join in with handclapping, dancing, and waving the free fan they receive upon entering the venue. Visitors can also buy a ticket to meet Hello Kitty, and those who do receive a free plush toy along with a photo with the Sanrio queen herself.
At the event, visitors can enjoy Sanrio versions of all the fun things Japanese summer festivals, or natsumarui, have to offer like catching a Sanrio figure instead of a goldfish, painting ceramics, making vinyl prints, squirting water pistols, jumping on a giant trampoline, and so much more.
Other things to look out for include special screenings at the HELLO KITTY SMILE theatre and the firework projection mapping show. The event also has four different restaurants which are serving limited-time, seasonal summer treats: the Party Terrace, Party Balcony, Restaurant Tamatebako, and Garden Terrace.
Ⓒ2021 SANRIO CO., LTD. APPROVAL NO. L627610
HELLO KITTY SMILE Oto-hime Ryugu-jo Beach Summer Festival
Japanese Event Title: HELLO KITTY SMILE 乙姫竜宮城 海辺の夏祭り
Running: July 1, 2021 – August 31, 2021
Opening Hours:10:00-19:00 (Last Entries 18:00)
*Brunch served exclusively on weekends and public holidays at the Party Terrace at 9:00-10:00 (last orders 10:30)
Address: 985-1 Nojimahikinoura, Awaji, Hyogo 656-1721, Japan
Official Website: https://awaji-resort.com/hellokittysmile/
Heidi, Girl of the Alps Anime Fair to Open at Rokko Garden Terrace in Kobe
Rokko Garden Terrace has announced an event set to take place this summer. Titled “Mount Rokkō Swiss Fair ~Surrounded by Heidi, Girl of the Alps~,” is set to run from July 16 to August 31.
Heidi, Girl of the Alps Decorations / Themed Stamp Rally / Merchandise
Heidi, Girl of the Alps themed food
Swiss-Style Cordon Bleu Alpen Macaroni | ¥2,200 (Tax Included)
Zuger Kirschtorte Gateau | ¥900 (Tax Included)
Roast Beef Lunch With Alpen Macaroni | ¥1,600 (Tax Included)
Yōichi Kotabe Art Exhibits / Cheese Plate / Illustrations
Mount Rokkō and Switzerland have a lot in common, especially when it comes to both locations being home to towering mountains with cable cars that run up them. At the top of Mount Rokkō, visitors can get a real feel for Switzerland. Rokko Garden Terrace sits up the mountains and has its own observation deck which offers a panoramic view of the Rokkō mountains. It’s here that the event themed on the anime series Heidi, Girl of the Alps will take place, with decorations, art exhibits, photo spots, themed food, merchandise, and more. Fans can also win a plush toy of Josef of the anime series. There will also be an art exhibition of works from the series character designer Yōichi Kotabe and more.
Mount Rokkō Swiss Fair ~Surrounded by Heidi, Girl of the Alps~
Running: July 16, 2021 – August 31, 2021
Location: Rokko Garden Terrace
Opening Hours: 9:30-21:00
*Opening hours subject to change depending on weather
*Subject to closure depending on COVID-19
Heidi, Girl of the Alps Official Website: http://www.heidi.ne.jp
KYARY PAMYU PAMYU meets IMABARI: A Visit to the Historical Sea Route
Imabari is a city in Ehime Prefecture that faces the Seto Inland Sea. Since olden times, it has flourished as an important location for marine traffic. It’s home to a bounty of recognised national treasures and historical heritage sights, and is also famous for its production of citrus fruits such as mikan. Japanese pop star, model, and icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu took a trip to this ancient city to discover its wonder and beauty.
A Visit to the Historical Sea Route
A ‘power spot’ revered by prominent people
Oyamazumi Shrine has been revered by prominent figures throughout history as a place dedicated to the god of the mountain, god of the ocean, and the god of war. It’s home to numerous Important Cultural Properties which are available for viewing by the public such as the armour worn by the military commander Minamoto no Yoshitsune when the Minamoto clan won the Genpei War (1180-1185), armour worn by women, and more. The shrine is also a notable power spot for the ancient tree that has stood there for 2,600 years and is now recognised as a natural monument of Japan. Power spots are places in Japan where the spiritually-inclined draw energy from.
Address: 3327 Omishimacho Miyaura, Imabari, Ehime 794-1393, Japan
Opening Hours: Sunrise to 17:00
National Treasure Building: 8:30-17:00 (Last Entries 16:30)
Official Website: https://oomishimagu.jp/
Kurushima Kaikyo Service Area
Lip-smacking food aplenty
If you’re one for great views, then the Kurushima Kaikyo service area is a must-visit, offering a panoramic look at the Kurushima Strait of the Seto Inland Sea. The service area is very well know particularly for the Jaguchi Mikan Juice, something of a city legend in Ehime where you can enjoy fresh mikan juice straight from a tap. You can also tuck a rice bowl dish made with tachiuo hairtail caught in the Seto Inland Sea that’s made to look like Kurushima Kaikyō Bridge, or try Imabari’s soul food dish: the Imabari Yakibuta Tamago Meshi, a pork, egg, and rice bowl. Don’t pass up the chance to snap a photo at the designated photo spot with the Seto Inland Sea in the back either like Kyary above.
Kurushima Kaikyo Service Area
Address: 3-9-68 Ohamacho, Imabari, Ehime, 794-0002, Japan
Food Court: [Weekdays] 8:00-21:00 / [Weekends & Holidays] 7:00-22:00
Shops: [Weekdays] 8:00-21:00 / [Weekends & Holidays] 7:00-22:00
Outside Shopping Area & Cafes: [Weekdays] 9:00-17:00 / [Weekends & Holidays] 9:00-18:00
Official Website: https://www.jb-highway.co.jp/sapa/kurushima.php
Murakami Suigun Museum
Dedicated to the Imabari heroes who protected the ocean
Murakami Suigun Museum is dedicated to kaizoku—pirates, or lords of the sea—something which conjures to mind villainy or bad guys, but the Murakami pirates were also considered heroes who helped maintain order and protect the sea during the Sengoku warring period of Japan. The museum features many displays of Murakami family treasures including the battle surcoat which the pirate leader wore over his armour, proudly bearing the Murakami family crest. Visitors can wear replicas of this coat, which Kyary tired herself: “Now I’m sorta like a military commander too,” she said.
Murakami Suigun Museum
Address: 1285 Miyakubocho Miyakubo, Imabari, Ehime 794-2203, Japan
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00
Closed: Mondays (or Tuesday if the Monday falls on a public holiday) / New Year Holidays (Dec 29-Jan 3)
Official Website: https://www.city.imabari.ehime.jp/museum/suigun/
Roadside Station Yoshiumi Iki-iki-kan
A bundle of fun and entertainment in one place
Roll on up to Roadside Station Yoshiumi Iki-iki-kan to enjoy a shichirin BBQ feast with fresh seafood caught in the Seto Inland Sea while gazing out across Kurushima Kaikyo. This building complex serves as a resting spot and is also the perfect place to purchase local souvenirs including Ehime specialty products. It’s also famous for its offering the chance to board a boat to ride around Kurushima Kaikyo, renting out bicycles, and more. You’ll also be able to meet Koro-chan, a popular fish who has lived there for 30 years.
Roadside Station Yoshiumi Iki-iki-kan
Address: 4520-2 Yoshiumichomyo, Imabari, Ehime 794-2114, Japan
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00
Restaurant: 10:00-16:00 (Last Orders 15:00)
Closed: New Year’s Day (and certain days in winter)
Official Website: http://www.imabari-shimanami.jp/ikiiki/
Dolphin Farm Shimanami
Meet the cute and friendly dolphins
Dolphin Farm Shimanami, which is connected to Hakata Beach, is the best and biggest place in Japan to interact with dolphins. Visitors can get close to them and the dolphins will show off their tricks and skills. There’s even a car camping area you can stay at.
Dolphin Farm Shimanami
Address: 1673 Hakatacho Kanoura, Imabari, Ehime 794-2302, Japan
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00
Closed: On days with bad weath
Official Website: https://www.df-shimanami.com/
A white sandy beach rolling out 200-meters
Hakata Beach is located at the base of Oshima Bridge in Hakata. The beach is famous for its salt which is best tried on their popular sweet-tasting sea salt ice cream.
Address: 1668-1 Hakatacho Kanoura, Imabari, Ehime 794-2302, Japan
Sea Bathing: Early July – Late August
Official Website: https://www.city.imabari.ehime.jp/kanko/spot/?a=198
High quality towels woven with tradition and technique
Imabari is the biggest producer of towels in Japan. Even their white towels alone have countless types you can choose from, allowing you to pick which level of softness and comfort you want. The iconic brand logo is also impactful, capturing the quality, production, and enthusiasm that the makes have for the product. Kyary herself uses them all the time!
Official Website: https://www.imabaritowel.jp/
Need a bike?
Sunrise Itoyama, located in the Imabari Central Cycling Terminal, is a rental bicycle service that has bikes and helmets for everyone’s needs. Rent out a bike and ride the Shimanami Sea Route which connects Ehime and Hiroshima with a series of bridges that hop across the islands of the Seto Inland Sea.
Address: 2-8-1 Sunabacho, Imabari, Ehime 794-0001, Japan
Rent-a-Cycle Details: https://www.sunrise-itoyama.jp/archives/rentacycle/
Official Website: https://www.sunrise-itoyama.jp/
The famous restaurant known to every local
If you want the real experience of Imabari’s yakitori soul food, you should visit Marutomi, a yakitori eatery. Imabari yakitori is different from the usual Japanese yakitori as it doesn’t come skewered. Instead, the chicken is cut into small pieces and fried that way. One of the most popular ways to have it is with the skin on so the outside is crunchy and the inside succulent. It goes perfect with a cup of sake too.
2-3-6 Katayama, Imabari, Ehime 794-0063, Japan
Opening Hours: 17:30-22:00
Official Website: https://maru-marutomi.jp/
A castle by the sea
Imabari Castle, built by the daimyo Tōdō Takatora, is known famously as one of Japan’s three “Castles on the Sea” and was also listed in Japan’s Top 100 Castles. When it was first constructed, boats could enter the moat from the ocean. It’s a site that breathes the prosperity that Imabari has enjoyed as a significant location for maritime traffic, the same Imabari that the Murakami pirates sought to protect. Head on up to the top of the castle to stand on the observation deck and gaze at an unbroken view of the city.
Address: 3-1-3 Toricho, Imabari, Ehime, 794-0036, Japan
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00
Closed: December 29 – December 31
Official Website: https://www.city.imabari.ehime.jp/museum/imabarijo/
Kirosan Observatory Park
A breathtaking spectacle to remember
Kirosan Observatory Park is officially recognised by Setonaikai National Park. Standing atop the observation deck fills the eyes with wonder as they gaze upon a panoramic stretch of Imabari, the Seto Inland Sea, and Kurushima Kaikyo all at once. Kyary wrapped up her time in Imabari here as the sunset coloured the sky and sea in warm evening hues.
Kirosan Observatory Park
Address: 487-4 Yoshiumicho Minamiura, Imabari, Ehime 794-2115, Japan
No Fixed Holidays
Open 24-hours a day
Official Website: https://www.city.imabari.ehime.jp/kanko/spot/?a=182
Imabari Tourism Information: https://www.city.imabari.ehime.jp/kanko/
We hope you enjoyed joining Kyary on her adventures across Imabari, and perhaps she even got you a little curious in wanting to visit the city yourself. It’s a treasure trove filled with vistas by the sea, in nature, and in the city itself with its Important Cultural Properties. Food is also a big part of travel for many people, so you can rest assured that your belly will be satisfied in Imabari as you try their speciality mikan, fresh seafood fished in the Seto Inland Sea, and more.
All About Matsuyama | Final Episode: Introducing the New Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre
The reception staff are ready and waiting to greet customers with a smile
The all new Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre finally opened in the heart of Matsuyama—the capital city of Ehime Prefecture in Japan—in Okaido on May 27. You’ll find it on the first floor of Matsuyama Mitsukoshi which isn’t even a one-minute walk from Okaido Station. It features an interior fusion combining history and culture with a design inspired by Matsuyama Castle while also throwing in a contemporary feel.
Six giant screens serve as the perfect place for tourism-related PR of Matsuyama
The first sight many visitors will lay their eyes on upon entering the information centres are the six screens spanning 1.5 meters high and 4.5 meters across the wall. Here, a variety of promotional material centred on the highlights of Matsuyama will be displayed.
The information centre offers many useful services, including for foreign customers who don’t speak Japanese. There is a translation and interpreting service, money exchange, rental electrical outlets for smart devices, and more. The staff themselves are multilingual, but the interpreting service includes access to a call centre which you can access using the free WiFi or using an iPad. The availability of foreign currency exchange is also extremely beneficial as Matsuyama is a city abundant with long-standing shops that have been around for decades and longer. Another convenience with the centre is easy access to public transport. If you’re looking to travel around the prefecture, we recommend paying a visit to the centre first as it’s sure to provide valuable information. You can even rent mobile batteries for your smartphone to lessen the stress when sightseeing.
The pictogram shows the many handy services available
Visitors will also find a comprehensive duty-free counter inside the information centre which covers all stores in Okaido, Gintengai, Matsuchika Town, Dogo Shoten, and Ropeway Shotengai. You must spend over ¥5,000 (before tax) on products to be duty-free eligible. Since it’s a comprehensive service, if you have multiple receipts you can be exempt from tax as long as all your receipts exceed ¥5,000. Participating stores have special stickers plastered up inside so tourists can quickly and easily identify them.
Stores participating in the duty-free service have stickers and signs to show it
For example, if you spend ¥500 at participating stores in Dogo Shotengai, ¥1,000 in Okaido Shopping Street, and ¥3,500 in Gintengai Shotengai, and take all three of those receipts adding up to ¥5,000 to the information centre, you can get your items duty free. But keep in mind that the receipts have a validity period on them, so be sure to check opening hours.
The Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre serves as the perfect site for bringing in all kinds of tourists, including foreign travellers, to Matsuyama post-COVID. The information also goes by the cute nickname “Dan Dan info.” Dan dan is an old Ehime phrase meaning “thank you” and ties in with the smiling and hospitable welcome staff wish to greet guests with. It’s exciting to look into the future and see how Matsuyama’s tourism and economic growth will develop in its shopping districts, stores, and elsewhere. Make one of your first stops the Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre when visiting the city.
All About Matsuyama | Episode 8: Souvenirs Are Part of Matsuyama’s Fun and Are Everywhere
The all new Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre opened in the heart of Matsuyama—the capital city of Ehime Prefecture in Japan—in Okaido on May 27. In celebration of its opening, this new featured series by MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON will explore the wonders of Matsuyama, a city abundant with places to shop, leisurely hot spots, must-visit restaurants, and opportunities to dive deep into its history and culture. You’re sure to discover something new and exciting about Matsuyama in this series.
From tasty treats to home and lifestyle goods, Matsuyama has no shortage of souvenirs
Popular sightseeing spots and delicious food you can’t get anywhere else—these are all part of the fun experience to be had when travelling. To wrap up your time there and memorialise all that’s happened, nothing’s better than picking up a little souvenir. In Episode 8 of All About Matsuyama, we take a look at the many wonderful items you can take home with you as souvenirs from food to traditional handicrafts, special dyed fashion and accessories, and more. MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON has picked out a range of delightful treats like Matsuyama’s famous tartes, jakoten, three-colour botchan dango as well as Tobe ware porcelain which is an Ehime tradition, and iyo-kasuri fabric which is one of Japan’s three main kasuri fabrics.
First on the list is the ‘tarte,’ a speciality product of Shikoku which is more of a sponge cake. They’re made of a soft and fluffy sesame seed-coloured sponge and coarse red bean paste. A famous treat of Matsuyama, you can find these tarts just about anywhere in Okaido Shopping Street, near Dogo Onsen, and elsewhere.
Jakoten is considered a soul food of Ehime Prefecture. It’s made from fish that are blended into a paste and fried. You can find jakoten everywhere in Matsuyama, but every restaurant serves theirs with different textures and flavours. Many places fry them fresh, so be sure to try a bunch to compare the flavours and then you can decide which to buy as a souvenir. There are even places so popular that they have lines outside them before they even open.
The botchan dango is something many of our readers have probably seen or heard about. These three-coloured skewered dango are served bite-sized, cute enough to snap a photo of. The ones sold at Dogo Onsen are something of a speciality. They have their name from Natsume Soseki’s novel Botchan. You’ll find them all around Dogo Shotengai.
Tobe ware is a traditional type of porcelain from Tobe in Ehime, known for its smooth touch and durability. This traditional porcelain has been handed down from old times until today, and in recent years, ceramists have been hammering out their own unique shapes, so have become popular as stylish, everyday use lifestyle items.
You can’t talk about Ehime’s traditional craftwork without mentioning iyo-kasuri fabric. Matsuyama used to have huge production output of this fabric type, which stands as one of three of Japan’s most famous kasuri fabrics alongside kurume-gasuri from Fukuoka and bingo-kasuri from Hiroshima. Production has dwindled in modern times, but if you go to Art Labo KASURI Rekishikan, you can learn all about iyo-kasuri. There are lots of gorgeous iyo-kasuri products to buy like cute pouches, bags, and more.
And that’s our list of must-grab souvenirs. There are of course endless other things you can get your hands on, so if you’re lost on what to pick up, try asking at the Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre.
Stay tuned for the next and final episode of All About Matsuyama.