Matsuyama - Mount Ishizuchi
Matsuyama, west of Shikoku island, is probably its most popular destination. Like most major Japanese towns, it features a nice castle, at the top of a hill, providing a pleasant stroll with a great view:
I got there on December 29th and the inside of the castle was unfortunately closed, as is the case for many monuments at the approach of the New Year. Even so, I had little time left so I basically had to choose between visiting temples or get some relaxation at an onsen. I picked the obvious option and therefore here is Dogo onsen, Matsuyama's main attraction. Built in 1894, you can see that the period building is superbly preserved.
As such, its rustic side will certainly appeal to those in search of authenticity, but less to those who prefer more fancy onsen. Indeed, inside, a unique bath . I was unable to take pictures inside due to the massive amount of people...
I left very early the next morning to hike mount Ishizuchi, a few dozen miles from Matsuyama, in spite of a not-so-decent weather forecast. I didn't have any other option anyway, as it was my only day left before going to Kyushu to meet my relatives and spending one more day in town was out of the question.
I regretted not having a car, as the access by public transportation was long. On top of that, once at the foot of the mountain, I still had to take a cablecar then a chairlift to reach the temple marking the beginning of the trail.
Here are some pictures of the hike, beautiful despite the average weather...
There is another small temple at the summit and I was really hoping the fog would clear out by the time I get there, but my wish wasn't granted...