Want to visit one of the best castles and Onsen in Japan? Matsuyama is a good city for exactly that and here I’ll share my experiences of the best things to do in Matsuyama.
You can see the famous Dogo Onsen, Matsuyama Castle, and more (all talked about further down the post).
Matsuyama is a gateway city for the ferry to Hiroshima and access to the rest of Shikoku.Matsuyama is the main city on Shikoku Island in Japan, and most travellers only come through for one – two nights on the way to other places, like starting the 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
I personally arrived to Matsuyama on the ferry from Hiroshima in the evening.
This is what I got up to on the first full day there the next day. I managed to see the best of what the city has to offer, and this is what I suggest to do in Matsuyama.
I’ll write this post with the assumption you have one full day.
The great thing with Matsuyama is the three main things to see are in the centre and only maximum one hour walking between them.
Matsuyama City In One Day
If you only have one full day naturally get up early so you won’t need to rush. If you arrived in the evening the night before you could do the evening things mentioned here then and the morning/midday things here the next day.
Grab some breakfast wherever looks good to you (travelling to Matsuyama you probably have a good idea of what to look out for to get a good breakfast in Japan), and then head straight to Matsuyama Castle.
Matsuyama Castle, along with Dogo Onsen, is one of the main things to see in the city so should be first on your list. Dogo Onsen is awesome to chill in at the end of the day.
The castle opens at 9:00 a.m. and close around 4:30 p.m. It’s best to go in the morning or midday so you don’t have to rush at the end.
The castle is centrally located and easy to get to.
It’s a nice steady climb up along the cables lower ramparts until you reach the top and the main castle building.
Once up on top you will get great views across Matsuyama city.
The castle itself is one of the best I have personally seen in Japan, having visited many. It’s actually one of my favourites.
Spend at least a few hours wandering the castle grounds.
Ishite-ji Temple Matsuyama
After the castle head to the Dogo Onsen area and visit the Ishite-ji Temple. It’s temple 51 on the famous Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage.
It will take you around 45 minutes to one hour to walk there from Matsuyama Castle, or 20 minutes from Dogo Onsen. Find a place on the way to have some lunch.
It’s a very chilled out area and a beautiful temple to see. Solitude from the main busy city of Matsuyama.
It closes at 5:00 p.m.
Isaniwa Shrine is only 5-10 minutes walk from Dogo Onsen so go there after visiting Ishite-ji Temple before going to Dogo Onsen.
It’s a cool shrine to see but you won’t need loads of time there so you will not have to rush see it in the end. 30 minutes is enough there. Be aware there’s a load of steps to climb up to reach it.
It closes at 19:00 p.m.
Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama
This is a gem of an onsen!
Dogo Onsen is one of the oldest and most historic onsens in all of Japan, and you could visit Matsuyama just to experience being there. It is also the perfect way to relax after a day exploring the castle and temple. Go there after seeing the Isaniwa Shrine.
Dogo Onsen is said to be one of the inspirations for the bath house in one of Japans best animation movies Spirited Away.
Entrance to Dogo Onsen:
The onsen is a very old and traditional building.
Inside the chamber where you can relax after soaking in the baths.
Enjoy a Dogo craft beer after. It’s a beer that you’re supposed to drink after visiting the Dogo Onsen.
Shikoku Udon Noodles in Matsuyama
Make sure this is on your list for dinner after Dogo Onsen.
The Shikoku region of Japan is famous throughout the country for its udon noodles, so Matsuyama makes a perfect place to have some.
They are yummy thick noodles and you often get them separate cold in a bowl and then dip them into another warm dipping broth to eat.
More advice on the famous noodles and other foods from Shikoku.
Things to do in Matsuyama City
So if you’re visiting Matsuyama this will give you a good overview on how to spend your time there.
Hiroshima and Miyajima Island (my post about them) across the sea are definitely worth visiting if in this part of Japan.
If you’re interested in more of Japan (I assume you are if you’re going there) then check out my guide to Japan.
Travelling around Japan can get pricey, so if you plan to move around a lot during your travels there think about getting a Japan Rail Pass to save money (you can get one with that link).
Recommended guidebook for Japan – Lonely Planet Japan
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