Ehime - explore "Spirited away" in real life - Waku Waku

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Ehime - explore "Spirited away" in real life

Ehime prefecture, located on the north-west of Shikoku, is a magnificent area along with the oldest structures of Japan. Dogo Onsen and Shimonada train station here are the inspirations for the popular anime "Spirited away". Let's explore some of the most famous attractions of this area!

Himawari

Himawari

Published on 06 Feb, 18:00

Matsuyama Castle - overlook the city from up high

Matsuyama Castle is built on the peak of Mt. Katsuyama, which is one of the 12 castles to remain its original shape and is considered to be an important national cultural possession.

The castle was built like a defensive fortress, so there are many steady watchtowers and walls surrounding it. Standing there, I could overlook the city of Matsuyama from up high.

Matsuyama Castle with impressive tall and stable watchtowers and walls
Matsuyama Castle with impressive tall and stable watchtowers and walls

When dropping by the souvenir shop, I had a very interesting experience: having tangerine juice directly from the tap!! It turned out that the specialty of Ehime prefecture is tangerine, so people used this as a way of advertising. The juice was very refreshing. You should try it!

Drinking tangerine juice directly from the tap
Drinking tangerine juice directly from the tap

In addition, in front of the entrance of the castle is Horinouchi park. I heard that there are over 200 sakura trees, so you will get to see Japanese plum and sakura in the area all you want! It was a pity I went there in summer :(((

After visiting Matsuyama castle and Horinouchi park, my next destination was...

Dogo Onsen - get "Spirited away"

Dogo Onsen is one of the most long-lasting onsens in Japan with 3000 years of history. This place is famous for many beautiful bathing areas, ryokans, and of course, places for selfies =)))

The major section of the whole area is Dogo Onsen Honkan. This 3-level wooden building is associated with many myths and legends. People say that once upon a time, an injured crane healed right after he dipped his leg in the water of the hot spring. Therefore, if you look carefully, you'll see a crane at the top of the Shinrokaku tower of the wooden building.

The old wooden building of Dogo Onsen
The old wooden building of Dogo Onsen

There was one reason I definitely had to go to Dogo Onsen Honkan when I was in Ehime because it was the inspiration for the director Hayao Miyazaki to make the anime "Spirited Away" that I really like :)))

The Onsen in
The Onsen in "Spirited away" (Source: ghibli.jp)

If you want to bathe in the onsen, there are many choices here: In Honkan, there are 2 old-fashioned bathrooms, namely Kami no Yu and Tama no Yu. There are 2 separate bathrooms, namely Asuka no Yu and Tsubaki no Yu, 100m away from Honkan which are designed with a more modern touch.

Besides, there are free footbaths for everyone near Botchan Karakuri clock tower. Let me tell you something! The clock tower will play music a lot of times throughout the day, and each time the music is played, little statues in the Botchan novel will appear from within the clock and dance to the soothing music.

 Botchan Karakuri clock with little dancing statues =))
Botchan Karakuri clock with little dancing statues =))

Nothing is better than getting to bathe your feet, listen to music, and look at these cute figures at the same time! For those of you who don't know, Botchan is a famous novel by the author Natsume Soseki, the main theme being Dogo onsen!

And the final destination in the journey to Ehime was ...

Shimonada train station - the train to the ends of the seas

Shimonada train station of Yosan line is around an hour drive or train from the heart of Ehime. The station is right beside the coast, with the cliffs at its back and the blue sea at its front, which make it look so lonely. That is exactly why this place is known as "the loneliest station in Japan".

Shimonada train station -
Shimonada train station - "the loneliest station in Japan"

Though being called a station, the stop here is very simple! There are only two wooden chairs, a roof, and a white sign with the name of the station on it. However, that simplicity made me feel peaceful. Sitting there, I could put aside all the thoughts of daily life, and look at the sea, without any thoughts or worries...

If you are here for photos, do come at dawn or dusk. You're sure to have some really amazing photos!

The sunset on the sea at Shimonada is also the inspiration for the train that got Chihiro "Spirited away", which was a very famous scene. To me, it was like a train to the ends of the seas.

If you want to take this fairy train, check the schedule to make sure not to miss the departure time! Apart from daily trains, there's also the Iyonada Monogatari tourist train four times a day on Saturday, Sunday and holidays.

The scene from
The scene from "Spirited away" (Source: Ghibli.jp)

My journey to Ehime is finally over! Compared to other cities in Japan like Tokyo or Osaka, Ehime may not be the idealistic attraction, but to me, this land has its own appeals, like "the sleeping beauty", waiting for passengers to wake it up. If you have time, be sure to pay Ehime a visit! ^^

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