This is Day 1 of our Setouchi X HomeAway trip. (Read previous post here .)
Highlight of the trip.^^
I am so thankful for HomeAway because it helped me unlock my 28th Prefecture: Ehime.
First time in Matsuyama Airport!
So Chanwon and I took a flight from Changi to Haneda via JAL, which landed at 5am in the morning ahead of time, and we were in luck because we had to rush over to the domestic departure after a loooong line clearing the immigration, for our connecting flight to Matsuyama. We got there just in time!
Matsuyama is the capital city of Ehime Prefecture. And when you mention Ehime, the first thing that comes to mind is… mikan (蜜柑) – The Japanese orange/mandarin.
So basically you get mikan everything here in Ehime. Mikan Sake, Mikan Chocolate, Mikan Juice, Mikan Rice… I’m serious. The Japanese school canteen serves Japanese-orange mixed rice. Haha.
Guess what welcomes us right at the arrival hall of Matsuyama airport? That’s right! A Mikan Juice Tower!
Completed the most important mission at Ehime prefecture 5 minutes after landing, and that is… hunting for my Gotochi Kitty!!
Bought four of it (and a couple more on the following days).
Of course, Mikan kitty.
Mikan Juice Factory
So, what was first on our itinerary?
We went straight to 10 Factory, the ultimate Mikan juice specialty store in Matsuyama.
Check this out!! This is the Mikan Family Tree (a sort-of accidental pun here?!), apparently! There are so many types!!
A whole rack of mikan juice, and there are many many different types of mikan juice which… you are gonna have a huge dilemma deciding which to get because… how do you even know they taste? XD
There’s a label stating the subtle nuances between each species, some sweeter and some more tangy…
We ordered our freshly squeezed juice from the bar. Blogger at work. 😛
Check out the colors! Different mikan species also produce a different shade. Mine is more citrusy and slightly more sour than Chanwon’s, I loved it!!
Haha there’s my shopping in the metal basket: Mikan Handy Jelly.
They have recently opened a branch in Ginza, Tokyo! So if you love your mandarins, you can now get it from Tokyo. 🙂
We headed for lunch after, at an udon place called Kotori. There’s only one item on the menu in the shop, which is… udon. Hahaha. Apparently this little restaurant has been around for decades and is very well-loved by the locals.
We had a bit of extra time after lunch, so we went shopping!!!
Omgggggg I was soooo happy because I totally did not expect to shop here in Ehime judging from how packed our schedule was and also… I kept thinking Ehime is not Tokyo and I probably won’t get a chance to buy fashion stuff but… in the end I bought SO MUCH STUFF, like, more than I ever bought in Tokyo because it was sooooo cheap (a top for 1990 yen?! A dress for 2990 yen… A bag for 3990 yen!!!)!
Matsuyama Castle is easily ranked in the Top 5 castles in Japan. (The first is of course the unrivalled Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture, which I peeked from a far on my birthday this year.)
You will have to take a rather thrilling ropeway up the hill to reach the castle.
After a while, all the Japanese castles may look the same, but each has its own amazing stories to tell.
Matsuyama Castle is one of only 12 surviving castles built before the Edo period (1627), resting on a hill top high up so you get a breathtaking view of Matsuyama city.
And and and…
This is how it looks during sakura season. *sigh* So beautiful. T.T
I suspect every castle in Japan is surrounded by cherry blossom now. There must be an angle somewhere where you can capture a photo like this!
This is when you can’t find sakura so you settle for second choice HAHA.
This is when, you spotted sakura in disguise. HAHAH. I’m serious. This, is a Someiyoshino tree. When I saw the name tag I just went up and hugged the tree. Either I was a little crazy or I was missing the baby at home…😂
Dogo Onsen (道後温泉)
Dogo Onsen is said to be the oldest hot spring in Japan, and is visited by the most prestigious guests in Japan – The Imperial Family.
This is the Dogo Onsen Honkan, a public bath house from the Meiji period. Fans of Ghibli would have to make a pilgrimage here as it is said that this was an inspiration for “Spirited Away” by Miyazaki (along with Kusatsu in Gunma Prefecture and also Jiu Fen in Taiwan).
Yup that’s us.
You can take a tour (with a small fee) to visit the Yushinden, a special room reserved the visiting emperors. The room includes a bath and toilet for the emperor’s exclusive use. The toilet is basically a wooden box served as the toilet bowl, where the imperial doctor would then retrieve the emperor’s “Imperial Golds” for his health inspection lolol.
Shimonada Station 下灘駅
If you have watched Jdramas before, you may have seen a scene that goes something like two lovers standing at a quiet train station overlooking the ocean, with silent goodbye and heartbreak in the air…
Shimonada Station in Iyo city, Ehime Prefecture, is voted one of the top 3 train stations with the most scenic view, looking right at the Seto Inland Sea. How romantic…
This station is about 50 mins from Matsuyama Station, and it is actually an unmanned train station (無人駅）but due to its popularity with tourist, a rare train will stop by just to let the passenger take some photos.
This station was a shooting location for many tv dramas movies, and have also been featured in various anime!
There’s a Love Love Bench for photo opportunity, Chanwon and I borrow each other as the lover haha.
Macam movie poster!!!!
Pass or not? Teenage Jdrama about hope, dreams and first love HAHAHA.
There’s a Shimonafa Coffee Truck right across the road from the train station. It’s so scenic that we started to fake a ViVi magazine shoot haha.
After that our host fromHomeAway came to pick us up at Shimonada station and drove us to Uchiko, where we checked into our 120 year old ryokan-style accommodation.
And then it was dinner time!!
The restaurant we went was called “Enoki”, it is just a few blocks a way from our accommodation.
I didn’t have photos of the food because I was concentrating on eating. The food was so good that Chanwon, who does not eat most vegetables, told me that this day was the day she ate the most vegetables in her life lol.
Sauteed Asparagus, soooo good!
Uchiko is a small town which I don’t expect a lot of shopping to be done other than the usual local specialty. But don’t worry. It is Japan. Every corner you go there’s shopping. If all else fails there’s still combinis. 😀
I did my research, and found out that there was a (in fact a few) supermarket and a mega drugstore just 15 mins walk away from our accommodation. We we walked there and had a mad shopping rush before the store closed.
Yeap. BUY ALL THE CALBEE FURUGURA!!!!
My shopping is quite crazy because I basically buy EVERYTHING. From salt, miso, canned tuna, potato chips to cotton buds, toilet fragrance and sanitary pads. Everything. If I can buy the whole store I will. Hahaha.
And that’s all for day one.
There are still many posts to come! Meanwhile, if you are planning your holiday soon, do check out HomeAway to book your vacation home.
Don’t forget to use the code “HOMEAWAYCHEESIE” for 8% off!!