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Uwajima宇和島

Ehime愛媛県

A castle town with enthusiastic bullfighting and festivals.

Uwajima has developed as the center city in the southwest of Ehime since the Date family took over this region as the lord of feudal Uwajima Clan in the early 17th century. Uwajima Castle, the symbol of the Dates’ reign, remains its castle tower which is one of the only 12 surviving ones built in Edo Period (1603-1868) and an important cultural asset. The castle features its irregular pentagon-shaped area, which provides the illusion of being square to enemies. You can see the collection tied to the family in the Date Museum, including their armors, furnishings for marriage, and family archives. A traditional Japanese landscape garden, “Tensha-en”, was constructed in 1868 as the retreat of the Date’s seventh lord Munetada. It is especially beautiful in the wisteria and iris season. It has a unique arch-bridge with pergola designed for wisteria to bloom upward.

Uwajima is well-known for bullfighting. As it is also locally called “Bull Sumo Wrestling”, unlike the Spanish ones, there is no matador and two bulls bump into each other in a 20-meter-diameter ring. The bull wins when the other loses its fight and gets away. Wrestling by bulls over one metric ton is so aggressive and quite a fun. Bullfighting is regularly held five times a year, that is, in January, April, July, August and October. July is also the month for festivals. In addition to July bullfighting, Ushi-oni Festival and Warei Shrine Festival are held at a time. “Ushi-oni (Bull Demon)” is a talisman with a bull body and a demon head passed down in this area. Many gigantic Ushi-oni floats parade the streets swinging their heads to drive away evils.

Yusu-mizugaura area is also a must-see. It is located toward a point in the saw-toothed coast, in 40 minutes drive off the center of Uwajima. It has spectacular sceneries of the terraced field which has been designated as an important cultural landscape. A number of one-meter-wide terrace fenced with stone walls are in tiers horizontally on the steep hillside upward to the summit, facing to the deep blue sea. In spring, the green leaves of potatoes cover the terrace.

Directions

From Tokyo :
[Air] 1h 20 min from Haneda to Matsuyama Airport.
[Rail] 3h 20 min to Okayama Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 4h from Okayama to Uwajima Station by JR Seto-ohashi/Yosan Line (limited express).
From Osaka :
[Air] 50 min from Itami to Matsuyama Airport.
[Rail] 45 min from Shin-Osaka to Okayama Station by Shinkansen.

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