Dogo-onsen Hot Spring
Japan’s oldest hot spring with 3,000 year history draws many tourists and residents.
Dogo-onsen Hot Spring, located in Matsuyama, the capital of Ehime, is the oldest spa in Japan, which is said to have 3,000 year history. A legend says that it healed a deity’s illness in ancient time. Its good quality of the spring, noteworthy tradition, and easy access from downtown have made Dogo-onsen the most popular destination.
The Main Building (Honkan), the symbol of Dogo spa resort, is a communal bathhouse erected in 1894. The magnificent three story castle-like wooden structure is the first public bathhouse designated as an important cultural asset in its 100 years anniversary. It is also known as a model of the bathhouse of gods in Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film “Spirited Away”. It has a watchtower with red glass windows on the roof, where they beat a time-telling drum three times a day, in the morning and the evening, and at noon. Moreover, the Honkan has a special bath called “Yushinden”. It is the bath exclusive to the Imperial Family, which is only one of its kinds in Japan (a sightseeing tour provided). Take a bath, and sit back and relax in cotton yukata in a spacious tatami salon, or a private room with tea and sweets.
Strolling in this neighborhood is another amusement here. Dogo Shopping Arcade with souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants stretches from the front of Honkan. Retro-flavored Dogo-onsen Station stands on the other entrance of the arcade, where you may enjoy a restored locomotive “Botchan Train” beeping or the puppet clock tower acting with its music. Taking a rickshaw is an idea for an easy and joyful guided tour. Another few minutes walk takes you to sightseeing spots such as Shiki Memorial Museum, Isaniwa-jinja Shrine, or Hogon-ji Temple. In 20 minutes walk or five minutes bus-ride, you can reach Ishite-ji Temple, the 51st of 88 temples in Shikoku Pilgrimage.
From Tokyo:[Air]1h 20 min from Haneda to Matsuyama Airport, and 40 min from the airport to Dogo-onsen by bus.[Rail]3h 20 min from Tokyo to Okayama Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line. 2h 40min from Okayama to Matsuyama Station by JR Seto-ohashi/Yosan Line (limited express), and 20 min from Matsuyama to Dogo-onsen Station by street cars.
From Osaka:[Air]50 min from Itami to Matsuyama Airport.[Rail]45 min from Shin-Osaka to Okayama Station by Shinkansen.