Once Every 33 Years a Secret Door at Tenjō-ji Temple in Kobe is Opened

04.August.2019 | SPOT

The Buddhist temple Tenjō-ji is located on Mount Maya at the heart of the mountainous area of Mount Rokko. This month, something very special is happening at the temple. An elusive door housed there is opened only once every 33 years, and this month from August 1 to 15, it is open.

Tenjō-ji is the only temple in Japan that has a building dedicated to Maya-bunin, the mother of Buddha. Its long history begins with Hōdō Sennin, an Indian high priest who build the temple at the behest of Emperor Kōtoku. In Japan, Maya-bunin is worshipped as as symbol of easy childbirth and child-rearing. Mount Maya, the mountain on which Tenjō-ji sits, is named after her.

Mount Maya, located in Kobe’s Nada ward, is a 702 meter tall mountain and one of the major peaks of Rokkō Mountains. It is close to the town areas of Kobe, and from the mountain peak one can see Kobe, Osaka, the Kii Peninsula, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and more, making it a popular tourist destination. It’s also frequented by Kobe locals who visit with their families to eat bento, as well as couples looking to catch a glimpse at the gorgeous nightscape atop the mountain apex.

Inside the secret door now open at the temple until August 15 are three hidden Buddhist idols: the Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara, Acala, and Vaiśravaṇa. This is very much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if you’re lucky enough to be in Japan right now, you won’t want to miss this extremely special occasion. If you do, you’ll have to wait another 33 years!

 

While it is open there will be talks and faith healing by the priests three times a day (10:30/12:00/14:00), exclusive celebratory merchandise, limited-time goshuin stamps, and more.

RECOMMENDED ENTRIES

  • Witness the Vibrant Yellow Nikkōkisuge Flower at Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden

    11.July.2019 | Uncategorized

    The high season to catch a glimpse of the beautiful nikkōkisuge (Hemerocallis esculenta) flower at Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden is happening right now.

     

    The nikkōkisuge blooms in the high plains and is recognised as a sign of summer. The full bloom period for the flower in the subalpine zone is June, but the best time to see them in high plains is July where 2,000 clusters of the bright yellow beauties sprout their vibrant leaves. The yellow beds make for some seriously summery Instagram posts.

    They live a fleeting life as they only bloom for a single day, opening in the morning and closing in the evening. A single stem is home to abundant flower buds, and they are long so they can bloom from one to the next. If you are in Hyogo this July we highly recommend witnessing this ephemeral sight.

  • Snoopy Master of Disguise Themed Fair Kicks Off With Space Theme at PEANUTS Cafe & Diner

    05.July.2019 | ANIME&GAME / FOOD

    This summer, all branches of the PEANUTS Cafe and PEANUTS DINER are holding a fair to celebrate Snoopy and his many disguises. The first theme is “Astronaut Snoopy.”

     

    IT’S A BEAGLE’S LIFE “I DID IT!” is the official catchphrase tied to this first theme which will see lots of space themed merchandise sold. And from July 17, a very special drink will be sold inspired by the Milky Way shimmering in space.

    Astronaut Lemonade: Have-In ¥730 (Before Tax) / Takeout ¥600 (Tax Included) *On sale July 17, comes with original coaster

    A beautiful spacey gradation is achieved by combining Blue Curacao syrup to a purple Blue Mallow tea. You might even catch a glimpse of a moonbound Snoopy in there. If you order this to have in the drink will be served over refreshing soda flavoured marble ice. It also comes with a limited-edition coaster you can take home. This one’s sure to be an Instagram contender!

     

    Participating Branches
    PEANUTS Cafe Nakameguro: Have-In/Takeout
    PEANUTS DINER Yokohama: Have-In/Takeout
    PEANUTS Cafe Kobe: Takeout Only
    PEANUTS DINER Kobe: Have-In Only

     

    PEANUTS Cafe×Thermo Mug <Astronaut> ¥3,500 (Before Tax)

    From the cafe’s popular tumbler collaboration series comes a new thermo mug. It’s bright red and features Astronaut Snoopy on the front. The mug keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold so you can take out your beverage of choice during any season. It also comes with a lid to ensure it does not spill when tipped or knocked. Perfect for work or when you’re reading♡

     

    POPSOCKETS GRIP Red/Blue <Astronaut> ¥2,400 (Before Tax)
    PopSockets are a must-have item for your handheld device, and these ones come with the Astronaut Snoopy design. Until now the PopSockets sold at the cafes and diners have been monochrome but you can grab these ones in red or blue! The red one is sold at the Nakameguro, Yokohama and Kobe branches while blue can be bought on the online shop. Both are available while supplies last.

     

    Original Sticker <Astronaut> ¥850 (Before Tax) *On sale from July 17
    This set of four large stickers also come in red and blue colours with Snoopy in his astronaut disguise. Stick them on your PC or laptop, suitcase and anywhere else so you can be with Snoopy all the time.

     

    © 2019 Peanuts Worldwide LLC

  • 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!

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  • 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-!’

  • ‘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
    イント

    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. 

     

  • Pâtissier-Inspired Shaved Ice Flavors Available at Kobe Minato Onsen Ren for Limited Time

    11.August.2021 | FOOD / SPOT

    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)

    Setouchi Lemon

    Fukuju (Nada’s Famous Sake)

     

    Strawberry

     

    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!

  • Heidi, Girl of the Alps Anime Fair to Open at Rokko Garden Terrace in Kobe

    06.July.2021 | ANIME&GAME / FOOD / SPOT

    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.

  • 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

     

     

    Oyamazumi Shrine

    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.

     

    Information

    Oyamazumi Shrine

    Address: 3327 Omishimacho Miyaura, Imabari, Ehime 794-1393, Japan

    TEL: 0897-82-0032

    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.

     

    Information

    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.

     

    Information 

    Murakami Suigun Museum

    Address: 1285 Miyakubocho Miyakubo, Imabari, Ehime 794-2203, Japan
    TEL: 0897-74-1065

    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.

     

    Information

    Roadside Station Yoshiumi Iki-iki-kan

    Address: 4520-2 Yoshiumichomyo, Imabari, Ehime 794-2114, Japan

    TEL: 0897-84-3710

    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.

     

    Information

    Dolphin Farm Shimanami

    Address: 1673 Hakatacho Kanoura, Imabari, Ehime 794-2302, Japan

    TEL: 0897-72-8787

    Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00

    Closed: On days with bad weath

    Official Website: https://www.df-shimanami.com/

     

    Hakata Beach

    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.

     

    Information

    Hakata Beach

    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

     

    Imabari Towels

    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!

     

    Information 

    Imabari Towel

    Official Website: https://www.imabaritowel.jp/

     

    Sunrise Itoyama

    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.

     

    Information 

    Sunrise Itoyama

    Address: 2-8-1 Sunabacho, Imabari, Ehime 794-0001, Japan

    TEL: 0898-41-3196

    Rent-a-Cycle Details: https://www.sunrise-itoyama.jp/archives/rentacycle/

    Official Website: https://www.sunrise-itoyama.jp/

     

    Marutomi

    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.

     

    Information 

    Marutomi

    2-3-6 Katayama, Imabari, Ehime 794-0063, Japan

    TEL: 0898-23-2740

    Opening Hours: 17:30-22:00

    Closed: Wednesdays

    Official Website: https://maru-marutomi.jp/

     

    Imabari Castle

    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.

     

    Information

    Imabari Castle

    Address: 3-1-3 Toricho, Imabari, Ehime, 794-0036, Japan

    TEL: 0898-31-9233

    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.

     

    Information 

    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

    30.May.2021 | FEATURES / SPOT

    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

    29.May.2021 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    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.

  • All About Matsuyama | Episode 7: Mitsuhama Port is a Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane

    29.May.2021 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    The all new Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre is set to open 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.

    The Mitsu Ferry, managed by Matsuyama City, has been running for over 500 years

    We’ve covered much about the land in this series, so in Episode 7 of All About Matsuyama, we’re heading to the sea. Mitsuhama Port sits in the western part of Matsuyama, Ehime. Mitsuhama is a port town that flourished during and following the Edo Period as the ‘front door to the ocean.’ Visiting the town is a trip down memory lane as there are still pseudo Western-style buildings from the Meiji and Taisho periods that suffered damage from the war, as well as traditional Japanese houses, and more. The Mitsuhama Shotengai shopping district was once a bustling place for the fishing and trade industries. Today, buildings have been renovated and taken on new managers who have turned places into stylish cafes, galleries, and other businesses, creating a quaint mix of new and old.

     

    Matsuhama Port is a 15-minute car ride from Matsuyama Station, which itself is connected to other must-visit spots we’ve covered in this series such as Matsuchika Town and Gintengai. If you’re looking for a place to walk around, the port area is somewhere you can really stretch your legs. It’s right outside Mitsu Station from where you can see Mitsuhama Shotengai lined with concrete shops. The street has an old-timey Japanese nostalgic feeling to it. The number of young people frequenting the local shops and houses that have been renovated into various stores is on the rise which is changing its image from a former port town to a hip place to go for shopping. In the summer there are firework festivals and events held by the shopping district, so it’s quickly becoming one of Matsuyama’s new tourist spots.

    A luxurious sea bream meshi-zen set meal

    If you’re strolling through Mitsuhama Shotengai, one place we absolutely want to recommend people visit is Taimeshi, a restaurant that set up shop inside a Japanese house that’s registered as a Tangible Cultural Property. They have only one order on the menu as pictured above: the Taimeshi-Zen, a sea bream set meal, which is made even more enjoyable by the restaurant’s elegant decor.

    Mitsuyamayaki is a fast food delicacy of Mitsuhama

    Everyone needs to try the local fried food as well. The most popular is their okonomiyaki, a common food in Japan. However, the type served in Mitsuhama, known as Mitsuhamayaki, is a little different from the Osaka or Hiroshima styles. They load the batter with noodles and garnish with chikuwa fish-paste, an ingredient long-loved in Mitsuhama, and the secret ingredient—fish flakes. Beef is used as the meat filling. The result is the kind of flavours you’d imagine tucking into in a port down. Each restaurant that serves Mitsuhamayaki serves theirs with their own original sauces too, so no two places will be exactly the same. Try several to compare the tastes.

     

    Something else that can’t be passed up when visiting Mitsuhama is the Mitsu Ferry, a boat with a 500-year history that rides up and down the river and is free of charge. Not only has it been used since the Muromachi Period for transporting goods, it also enjoys 40,000 passengers every year having been recognised as a tourist spot in recent years.

     

    Baishinji Station, which is right next to Minatoyama Station and is how you get to the Mitsu Ferry, is known for being the location of the final episode of the 1991 Japanese drama series Tokyo Love Story. There, visitors can also gaze at the gorgeous view of the Seto Inland Sea, pay a visit to Baishinji Garden to enjoy the plum and cherry blossoms, and more.

     

    Matsuyama is vast and full of many places to enjoy. Mitsuhama is one of these locations and is easily accessed by train from the city centre. It’s a tranquil place where you can feel both the preserved old atmosphere and the modern changes. It’s sure to continue growing as one of the city’s must-visit sightseeing spots.

  • All About Matsuyama | Episode 6: Feast Your Eyes Upon the City’s Food

    28.May.2021 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    The all new Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre is set to open 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.

     

    One of the biggest attractions to anyone travelling abroad, or even domestically, is the food. In Episode 6 of All About Matsuyama, we give you a mouth-watering tour of Matsuyama’s food scene. Every area of the city is bursting with flavours to be savoured, so here’s our list of places we can’t recommend enough, all located around Okaido Shopping Street, Matsuyama Gintengai, and Matsuchika Town.

     

    Higiriyaki

    Higiriyaki is a sweet local treat from Matsuyama with chewy skin and filled with hot adzuki bean paste

    The first delectable treat MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON recommends begins at a shop in Okaido Shopping Street. The ‘higariyaki’ is a local food that was first created during the Taisho period in Japan and is also the name of the shop that sells them. It’s said that the first higariyaki was made at Zenshoji Temple which is located in front of Matsuyama Station. The temple is nicknamed “Ohigiri-san,” and the dessert’s name derives from the Higiri Jizo god that is worshiped there. Its dough is made with high quality wheat flour and eggs and is stuffed with an azuki bean paste recipe that has been preserved and passed down since it was first created. You get to see the higiriyaki being made fresh before you when ordering one.

     

    Noma Kajuen noma-noma

    Every cup of their refreshing juice is freshly squeezed

    Noma Kajuen noma-noma is a juice and gift shop managed by Noma Kajuen, a fruit grower in Ehime which ships tasty mikan oranges around Japan. noma-noma not only serves fresh juice but ice creams, parfaits, drinkable jelly, and other takeout items too – all made with mikan. They have plenty of fruity gifts too, so don’t pass up the opportunity to try some sweet Ehime mikan.

     

    Roken Manto

    The only place left making steamed bread with koubokin yeast fungus

    Next on the menu is Roken Manto which is famous in Matsuyama for its steamed bread. This bread is made with koubokin yeast fungus and has been since 1931. No preservatives or other additives are used so they don’t have a shelf life – you can only buy and eat them from here. The bread was adapted in Kurashiki from the Chinese steamed bun to cater to Japanese palettes. Fillings include pinto beans, raisins, cheese, cocoa, and more. None are overly sweet so make for a nice easy bite. They are particularly popular with male customers who you often see in droves buying them in the evenings and late into the night.

     

    Nabeyaki Udon Asahi

    A bowl of their sweet udon will leave you feeling happy

    We’re moving locations now – towards Matsuyama Gintengai. Nabeyaki Udon Asahi is a famous udon bar in Matsuyama known for its sweet tasting nabeyuki udon, something of a soul food to the locals. The restaurant opened in 1947 and has been frequented by locals since. Their udon is simple but delicious, made with a sweet broth, chewy noodles, kamaboko fish paste, chikjuwa fish paste, and boiled egg. The restaurant itself has a retro vibe to it which serves as the perfect setting for your bowl of udon. It will definitely have you wanting a second visit. One thing to note is that the restaurant closes once all noodles have been served, so we recommend visiting in the early afternoon.

     

    Usuzumi Yokan

    The quality of the adzuki beans elevate this dessert to sublime new heights

    The usuzumi yokan is a famous sweet of Matsuyama which was first made over 1,000 years ago when Empress Jito visited Dogo. Its surface has a sheen to it, and inside are white beans made to look like cherry blossom petals, giving it an extravagant appearance. It’s a sweet famous across Japan having won awards at national confection competitions. You can order them to have-in at this cafe if you like – and their gorgeous Tobe ware plates are available to buy too. Both would be great as souvenirs bought together.

     

    Tonkatsu Katsuyoshi

    The crunchy, mouth-watering tonkatsu is nice and light and not fatty at all

    Last up on our list takes out to Tonkatsu Katsuyoshi in Matsuchika Town. They serve up some seriously succulent and juicy meat covered in a crunchy layer and served with an in-house sauce. Their menu is long, and all set meals come with a bowl of grated Japanese yam soup. Matsuchika Town is full of popular eateries with lots of takeout items to enjoy, so we recommend visiting there before moving away from the station area.

     

    Matsuyama is loaded with restaurants so you’ll never go hungry. The places on this list, and many others, are waiting for your arrival.

  • All About Matsuyama | Episode 5: A Shopping Paradise at Every Turn

    28.May.2021 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Five unique shopping districts loved by Matsuyama locals

     

    The all new Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre is set to open 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.

     

    When visiting Matsuyama, some of the must-visit hot spots include places like Dogo Onsen and Matsuyama Castle. While it’s true you’re sure to enjoy a satisfying sightseeing experience visiting these worthwhile locations, if you’re looking for an even truer Matsuyama experience, you’ll want to hit up the city’s shopping districts. In Episode 5 of All About Matsuyama, we’re looking at five different shopping districts, each with their own unique characters, and all loved by the locals.

     

    The five places we’re looking at are: Okaido Shopping Street, a bustling street and the biggest shopping district in all of Ehime; Matsuyama Gintengai which is lined with a diverse bounty of stores; Matsuchika Town which is the only underground shopping centre in Shikoku; Ropeway Shopping Street, a beautiful street with an inherently ‘Japanese’ feel to it; and Dogo Shotengai which connects the local station to the main Dogo Onsen site. All five of these places should be listed alongside Matsuyama Castle and Dogo Onsen as tourist hot spots.

     

    Let’s begin with Okaido Shopping Street. Located right by Okaido Station, the street runs 483 meters from Shiden Street to Chifunemachi Street. It’s an enormous, brightly-lit arcade with plenty of things to enjoy throughout the day from the morning farm market to the wine and dine experiences to be had in the evenings. No matter the hour, Okaido Shopping Street is bustling, so if you’re looking for some fun in Matsuyama, this is the place.

     

    Next on the list is Matsuyama Gintengai, which runs from Chifunemachi Street to Matsuyama City Station. It connects directly to Okaido Shopping Street and is split into four districts: Sanchome and Yonchome. This 600 meter space is frequented by young and old shoppers alike, with delectable desserts to tuck into and lifestyle items to adorn your days with.

     

    Matsuchika Town can be accessed via an elevator from Matsuyama Gintengai. It’s connected to Matsuyama City Station and is the only underground shopping district you’ll find in the whole of Shikoku, one of the five main islands of Japan. It’s on the smaller side when compared to Okaido and Gintengai, but as well as various stores, it has a well-known rest and meeting spot which is a symbol of the shopping centre.

     

    Ropeway Shopping Street is a 500 meter road that runs from Matsuyama Ichibancho—which is across from the same Shiden Street that links to Okaido Shopping Street—to the Matsuyama Ropeway cable car station that goes to Matsuyama Castle. It’s home to many old-time shops stocking second-hand books, Japanese instruments, and more. It’s also a barrier-free shopping centre which is something of a rarity in Japan.

     

    The final site on this list is Dogo Shotengai, which is about 10-minutes by train from Okaido Station. It’s an L-shaped arcade that runs 250m from Dogo Onsen Station. It’s known colloquially as Dogo High Collar Street for its smart and chic Meiji Roman vibe. There are many people who walk around the area from the surrounding hotels in yukata. It really has that ‘hot spring town’ vibe.

     

    And that’s our list of five unique shopping districts adored by the locals. Be sure to jot them on your list of places to go when travelling to Matsuyama.

  • All About Matsuyama | Episode 4: Japan’s Famous Bathhouses Dogo Onsen & Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu

    27.May.2021 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Dogo Onsen is registered as an Important Cultural Property of Japan

     

    Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu incorporates Asuka Period-style architecture

     

    The all new Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre is set to open 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.

     

    In Episode 3 of All About Matsuyama, we head to Dogo Onsen, another famous location that should be added to your Matsuyama bucket list adventures.

     

    Dogo Onsen is Japan’s oldest hot spring, located along Dogo Shotengai, a shopping district that runs 250m from Dogo Onsen Station. Dogo Shotengai is known colloquially as Dogo High Collar Street for its smart and chic Meiji Roman vibe. Dogo Onsen is a 3-story hot spring facility in the heart of Dogo which became the first public bathhouse to be registered as an Important Cultural Property of Japan in 1994.

     

    Conservation and repair work began on Dogo Onsen in January 2019 in order to preserve the bathhouse which boasts a long history spanning over 120 years. It is the first public bathhouse in Japan to operate as an Important Cultural Property while undergoing large-scale reparation.

     

    The preservation work is scheduled to take 7 years during which the Dogo Reborn Project is taking place. The Phoenix from Osamu Tezuka’s manga of the same is watching over the revitalization of Dogo Onsen which will be ‘reborn’ like a phoenix. The project is holding a range of events such as light-ups, projection mapping, animations that people can watch, and more.

    Please note however that project mapping is temporarily suspended until May 31, 2021 due to COVID-19.

     

    Dogo Onsen’s history spans more than 120 years. Its on-site sister location, Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu, opened in 2017. This bathhouse is constructed in the style of the Asuka Period. Asuka-no-Yu, like the main Dogo Onsen building, is home to Bijin no Yu, a rare kind of water with a soft texture which flows from the source and is neither heated nor cooled.

     

    Dogo Shotengai, which links together Dogo Onsen and Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu, is an L-shaped arcade and runs from Dogo Onsen Station. It has a roof which means you can walk from the station straight to the bathhouse without getting wet on a rainy day. There are around 60 shops to look around, and if you wear a yukata, you’re sure to enjoy the real Dogo experience. Head back in time in Japanese history with a visit to the Dogo area.

  • All About Matsuyama | Episode 3: Matsuyama Castle’s History Overlooking the City Throughout History

    27.May.2021 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Matsuyama Castle from high above

    Matsuyama’s shitamachi castle town

     

    The all new Matsuyama Tourist Information Centre is set to open 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.

     

    In Episode 3 of All About Matsuyama, we’re taking a look at Matsuyama Castle, an absolutely indispensable location when travelling to Matsuyama which has and still watches over the development surrounding shitamachi castle town.

     

    Matsuyama Castle sits at the heart of Matsuyama. It was built in 1603 on top of Mount Katsuyama which stands towering at 132 meters tall. At the foot of the mountain are two enclosures: Ninomaru and Sannomaru. The castle grounds are so big that you wouldn’t be able to see everything in a single day. It’s also home to only one of 12 existing original castle towers in Japan, is featured in Japan’s Top 100 Castles list, and was selected as one of the 100 Most Beautiful Historical Sites in Japan. It also ranked as the third best castle in Japan in a 2020 list. You clearly can’t pass up a visit to Matsuyama Castle when travelling to Matsuyama!

     

    There are several ways to get to Matsuyama Castle. You can take the walking route upwards which takes about 30 minutes, but many people take the Ropeway or lift. You can buy a ticket for the Ropeway at the station outside Matsuyama Ropeway Shopping District. You will be greeted by Matsuyama Castle’s mascot character Yoshiaki-kun.

     

    Matsuyama Castle was built following the Battle of Sekigahara by Katō Yoshiaki who was awarded for his service as a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The main tower is the only part that has been preserved in its original form. Other parts of the keep have been restored throughout the years due to fires. Several parts of the castle have been designated as Important Cultural Properties including the main tower which can be accessed by visitors who can see what the castle was like when it was first built.

     

    The castle is surrounded by a towering 14-meter stone wall which, though was built in order to prevent enemies from infiltrating, has an air of beauty to it. Two stone walls were built on the mountain slope to stop people from entering via the hillside too. This wall is considered a nationally precious example of Japanese history and is a must-see when visiting Matsuyama Castle.

     

    It’s rare for a castle like this in the middle of a city to have such a history. The view from the very top of the castle keep, which is an extra 30 meters on top of the 132m tower, is a wonderful sight to behold as you gaze across Matsuyama. Many people visit the castle during the daytime, but the castle is actually one of the city’s most beautiful night time spots too. Whichever time of the day you decide to visit, you’re sure to learn much about Matsuyama’s history.

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