Ehime Prefecture can be found on the North-Western side of Shikoku, and it follows the coastline of the Seto Inland Sea. It borders both Kanagawa Prefecture and Tokushima Prefecture to the East, and Kochi Prefecture to the South. The innermost area of the region is full of high mountainous landscapes.
You can actually find the oldest intact hot spring in Ehime Prefecture, and it can be found in the capital city, Matsuyama. It has been used for a total of 2000 years, and it is one of the most famous hot springs in the whole of Japan. The Imperial family is known to use the hot spring on a regular basis. One of the key destinations in the area is called Dogo Onsen Honkan, which is a wooden public bathhouse dating back to the Meiji Period.
Ehime Prefecture even has its own ‘Cat Island’, called Aoshima Island. It lies just off of the coast, neighbouring both Shikoku and Honshu. The actual population of cats on the island is extremely high, as they outnumber the humans that live there by around 6:1. They were initially introduced to Aoshima Island by travelling ships and left to their own devices the cats vastly repopulated.
The region is also the home to one of the twelve original castles that actually managed to survive the post-feudal area in Japan. It is called Matsuyama Castle, and it offers visitors a lookout point to view both Matsuyama and the Seto Inland Sea. There are around 200 cherry trees throughout the castle grounds, and the spot is a popular area for participating in hanami or ‘flower viewing’ in the spring.
Whether you want to go and relax in the most famous hot spring in Japan, or go and see Japanese culture among the walls of Matsuyama Castle, you will find a spot that matches your personality in Ehime Prefecture. You can even go and spend a day relaxing on an island of sleepy cats.