“Little Kyoto in Iyo (old name of Ehime)”. The old castle town ornamented with seasonal traditional events.
Ozu, located in a basin where Ehime’s largest Hiji-kawa River skirts, was developed as a castle town in Edo Period (1603-1868). The town embraces rows of old samurai residences and merchants’ warehouses, which gives you an atmosphere of Kyoto. Garyu Mountain Villa, near the antique district, offers great scenic views of the Hiji-kawa River. A further walk along the river leads you to Ozu Castle. The white wall of the castle on the water is worth a look.
Early in May, numerous deep and light pink flowers cover the summit of Mt. Tomisu (320 meters) near the downtown. With 60,000 azalea trees, it is the best spot for blossoms viewing in western Japan. “Ukai” (cormorant fishing) in the Hiji-kawa River is the signature summer event. Sitting back on a houseboat, while eating and drinking, you can watch cormorant fishermen handling skillfully several cormorants to catch “ayu” (sweet fish). Early in fall people enjoy a traditional event with local cuisine called “Imo-taki”, which has 300 year history. “Imo-taki” is a kind of Japanese pot-au-feu with “satoimo” (Japanese taro), deep fried bean curd, mushroom, chicken and other ingredients. Locals gather in the riverbed and eat “Imo-taki” around a large iron pot while viewing the moon. In winter you can see the misty blow, called "Hiji-kawa Arashi", which literary means the storm of the Hiji-kawa River. The difference of the heat and cold in a day causes the mist early in the morning, which rushes down into the sea.
From Tokyo:[Air]1h 20 min from Haneda to Matsuyama Airport, and 20 min from the airport to Matsuyama Station by bus.[Rail]3h 20 min from Tokyo to Okayama Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line. 3h 30 min from Okayama via Matsuyama to Iyo-Ozu 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.