Japan’s oldest hot spring
Dōgo Onsen is one of Japan’s most famous spas. Dōgo Onsen is said to have been discovered 3,000 years ago when a white heron cured its injured leg in its waters. In 596, an Imperial prince Shōtoku Taishi visited the area and was impressed by the hot spring. Over its long history, many people have enjoyed the waters of Dōgo, and it’s been passed down through the generations as a treasure of Matsuyama. The current Dōgo Onsen Honkan was rebuilt in 1894 and it’s the first public bathhouse to be designated an important national cultural property. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has also recognized it as Heritage of Industrial Modernization.
Inside the wooden structure, the rooms, corridors and stairs form a fascinating labyrinth. This strange and mysterious building is said to have been a model for the film Spirited Away. Recently, Dōgo Onsen Honkan has been the centrepiece of an art entertainment program. Come and explore this amazing bathhouse combining history and art for yourself. Only in Matsuyama.
Dōgo Onsen is best known for
Dōgo Onsen Honkan
Dōgo has two public baths. One is Dōgo Onsen Honkan, built about 120 years ago in the Meiji period. Inside there are baths called Kami no Yu and Tama no Yu, both of which have luxurious stone bathtubs.
Before and after bathing, you can use the large public lounge or a private room to relax wearing your yukata. You can also visit the Yūshinden, the gorgeously appointed bathroom for the exclusive use of the Emperor, the only one of its kind in Japan. Don’t miss it!
The other public bath is Tsubaki no Yu, a more modern bathhouse. This is used on a daily basis by local people.
Strolling in yukata
Around Dōgo Onsen, there are lots of Japanese-style ryokan and hotels. Whatever the accommodation, it will have a rotenburo, communal bath, family bathroom and so on, with water drawn from the Dōgo Onsen spring, and yukata for after your bath. If you potter through Dōgo in geta clogs holding your basket of bath accessories, you can experience the true charm of this spa town. You can walk from your hotel to Dōgo Onsen Honkan, stroll around the shopping arcade, and try out the hand and foot spas here and there.
Stroll down Dōgo Arcade
Dōgo Arcade is lined with over 60 shops and restaurants. You can enjoy browsing for souvenirs, and relaxing or dining in stylish cafés. The Japanesque souvenirs typical of Matsuyama and its environs – bamboo ware, Tobeyaki ceramics, Hime Daruma dolls – are highly recommended.
There are characterful cafés, and the Japanese-style café with its traditional inner garden is particularly popular.
There are many discoveries to be made – shops specializing in sweets made from Ehime’s key product, citrus, shops dedicated to the Imabari Towel brand, Japan’s best quality towels and so on.