Matsuyama is located in Shikoku, the smallest of the four main islands of Japan. Facing the tranquil and beautiful Seto Inland Sea, the region has a pleasant climate – mild throughout the year with little rainfall. With the sea to the west and mountains to the east, it’s a place that offers both the conveniences of a city and the slow pace of the countryside.
Additionally, Matsuyama has an abundance of cultural offerings. There are hot springs including Dōgo Onsen, which is considered the oldest of all the hot springs in Japan, and the city is connected to Masaoka Shiki, a poet who is considered to have established the foundation of modern haiku. In the middle of the city stands Matsuyama Castle, which has one of the country’s most valuable keep towers built during the Edo Period (1603-1868). The areas around the castle still continue to maintain the culture of a traditional castle town. Befitting a town that has long welcomed many o-henro-san (pilgrims) who come for the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage, Matsuyama still exercises its time-honoured spirit of hospitality.
A compact city that you can walk around easily
Matsuyama is a compact city with easy access to the city centre from Matsuyama Airport, Kankōkō Port, and JR Matsuyama Station. One of its main features is that transport infrastructure like the suburban trains, trams and buses make it very easy to get about. For tourists, the Botchan Train is very popular. This train is a replica of steam trains that ran about 130 years ago during the Meiji period. The train with its piercing whistle is one of the sights of the city. The central area of Matsuyama is quite flat, so getting about by bicycle is easy. We recommend using a rental cycle.
Matsuyama, the world capital of haiku culture
In 1867, Japan’s leading haiku poet, Shiki Masaoka, was born in Matsuyama. Around Matsuyama, you can find stone haiku monuments inscribed with haiku written by Shiki and his apprentices. Also, you can visit Shikidō, the house where he spent his youth, and the Kōshin-an and Issō-an hermitages where famous haiku poets lived. The Shiki Museum in Matsuyama is one of Japan’s few museums dedicated to a literary figure. The multilingual audio guide helps to bring the exhibits to life. Other haiku-related features include haiku-themed walks, Haiku Boxes where you can submit your own haiku for a competition, and a public contest called Haiku Kōshien where high school students compete with poems and appreciation. This enthusiasm for the short poetic form has made Matsuyama the world capital of haiku culture.