Imabari-Dogo Hamakaze Sea Route Imabari-Dogo Hamakaze Sea Route

Imabari-Dogo Hamakaze Sea Route

Imabari-Dogo Hamakaze Sea Route

【66.8 km】See Ehime Prefecture’s best sights in one beautiful ride

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Route Introduction

The Shimanami Kaido draws cyclists from across Japan and around the world. The Imabari-Dogo Hamakaze Sea Route is the part of it that winds along the coast from Imabari to Matsuyama, home of Dogo Onsen, one of the most famous hot springs in Japan. Because it has few inclines, is easy enough for even beginning riders to enjoy. Just keep on the lookout for cars and you can enjoy a delightful bike ride, cooled by refreshing ocean breezes.

Along the way is Matsuyama, a city in central Ehime that is rich in historical and cultural traditions. Matsuyama Castle, which boasts 21 important cultural properties, and the Saka no Ue no Kumo Museum, designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando, are among the city’s must-see attractions. The Imabari-Dogo Hamakaze Sea Route is a fantastic way to get in Ehime’s most notable tourist sites—and better yet, you can get from the finish point at Dojo Onsen to the Matsuyama Airport in just 30 minutes by car (about 10 km)—making it incredibly convenient as well.

TOTAL 66.8 km

Highlights

Route attraction

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【Point 0.3km】Itoyama Park (Kurushima Observatory and Itoyama Observation Deck)

【Point 0.3km】Itoyama Park (Kurushima Observatory and Itoyama Observation Deck)

The Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge linking Imabari and Oshima was the world’s first triple suspension bridge. With a total span of 4 km, it’s the longest bridge on the Shimanami Kaido as well. The best place to enjoy the bridge up close is Itoyama Park. It is particularly worth visiting in the evening, with its lovely views of painted sunset skies and the sight of the ocean gradually changing hues as the sun sinks into the water. The bridge is also lit up occasionally (most often on weekends and public holidays), so you may get a chance to enjoy a romantic night scape as well.

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【Point 66.8km】Dogo Onsen Honkan

【Point 66.8km】Dogo Onsen Honkan

The old bathhouse occupies the central position at Dogo Onsen area and has been designated an important cultural property of Japan. Renovated in 1894, this is a historical structure that is still in use today.

The interior consists of two bathing areas, Kami-no-Yu (“Bath of the Gods”) and Tama-no-Yu (“Bath of the Spirits”) plus three relaxation rooms, which can be enjoyed in different combinations. It’s the perfect place to unwind with a hot soak after your ride, its waters fed by a traditional hot spring said to have been tapped 3000 years ago. You can get there from JR Matsuyama Station on the city trains in about 20 minutes. Get off at Dogo Onsen Station and make your way through the shopping arcade towards the three-story wooden building. The atmosphere is so magically nostalgic that you’ll feel like you stepped back in time.
Note: Parts of the Honkan will be closed for repairs and renovations through 2024

Now you know, so let’s go

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SPOT 1

Sunrise Itoyama

Sunrise Itoyama

At the start of your journey, head to this cycling terminal near Imabari Station. You can of course rent bikes here, but the facility also offers showers, storage lockers and various other welcome options for the traveling cyclist. The staff here will also give you information about the area, so make sure to check for the latest updates before hitting the road. There are even attached accommodations with every room overlooking the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge

Address
2-8-1 Sunaba-cho, Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture 794-0001
Phone
0898-41-3196
Hours
7:00 am–9:00 pm/ Open year round

SPOT 2

Itoyama Park (Kurushima Observatory and Itoyama Observation Deck)

Itoyama Park (Kurushima Observatory and Itoyama Observation Deck)

The Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge links Imabari and Oshima with a total span of 4 km, making it the longest bridge on the Shimanami Kaido. The best places to take in the dramatic effect of the bridge up close are the Kurushima Kaikyo Observatory and Itoyama Observation Deck at Itoyama Park, both of which offer views of pedestrians and cyclists crossing the bridge. The bridge is also lit up occasionally (most often on weekends and public holidays), so you may get a chance to enjoy a romantic nightscape as well.

Address
2-5-2 Koura-cho, Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture
Phone
0898-41-5002
Hours
Kurushima Kaikyo Observatory: 9:00 am–6:00 pm Itoyama Observation Deck: Open year round

SPOT 3

Nomauma Highland

Nomauma Highland

Nomauma Highland offers visitors a chance to see rare Nomauma ponies, a breed endemic to Japan. This massive site covers nearly 14 acres, and includes open areas where you can interact with guinea pigs and other small creatures as well as picnic areas and a museum on the Nomauma ponies called the Makiba-kan—making it a fun stop for families as well. Seasonal flowers bloom in various places throughout the park, so you’re sure to find something to enjoy on multiple visits.

Address
8 Noma-ko, Imabari-shi, Ehime Prefecture 794-0082
Phone
0898-32-8155
Hours
10:00 am–5:00 pm (the shop is only open on weekends and public holidays) Closed: Tuesdays (or the following day when Tuesday is a public holiday)

SPOT 4

Kawara-kan at Kawara no Furusato Park

Kawara-kan at Kawara no Furusato Park

Kikuma kawara are a type of high-quality roof tile that has been produced in the Kikuma district of Imabari for some 750 years. They’re famous for having been presented to the Ministry of the Imperial Household (now the Imperial Household Agency) for use on the Imperial Palace. Kawara no Furusato Park is made to showcase these Kikuma kawara tiles. In the main building, the Kawara-kan, you can see dioramas depicting artisans making the tiles by hand, tiles damaged in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on permanent loan from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and other precious artifacts. It’s a great place to experience the history and culture of Japan’s kawara roof tiles, which play a key role in the beautiful aesthetic of Japanese architecture.

Address
3067 Kikumacho-hama, Imabari-shi, Ehime Prefecture 799-2303
Phone
0898-54-5755
Hours
9:00 am–5:00 pm Closed: Mondays (or the following day when Monday is a public holiday)

SPOT 5

Kazahaya no Sato Fuwari roadside station

Kazahaya no Sato Fuwari roadside station

This roadside station offers sweeping views of the islands dotting the Seto Inland Sea against the backdrop of the lush greenery of Mt. Takanawa. It’s a welcoming space to rest, complete with bike racks, rest areas, a restaurant, and an open-air market. The market offers a great selection of different mikan citrus varieties along with samples, so you can try a few and discover your favorites. If you visit the restaurant, try the Hojo taimeshi—a delicious rice cooked in kelp broth with grilled sea bream.

Address
119 Oura, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 799-2408
Phone
089-911-7700
Hours
9:00 am–6:00 pm (the restaurant is open 11:00 am–3:00 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and 11:00 am–4:00 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays) Closed: Thursdays

SPOT 6

Natural Hot Spring Seapa Makoto

Natural Hot Spring Seapa Makoto

Seapa Makoto is a relaxation complex where visitors can enjoy natural hot spring water bubbling up from 650 m (2130 ft) underground. The ocean views overlooking Kashima island from the outdoor baths are sure to relax both body and mind. There’s also a full spa menu featuring acupressure foot massages and more, so rush on over if you’re tired from your ride.

Address
1180 Hojo, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 799-2431
Phone
089-993-0101
Hours
Bathing facilities: 10:00 am –12:00 am Hotel: Check-in starts at 4:00 pm, checkout by 10:00 am/ Open year round

SPOT 7

Kashima island

Kashima island

Just a short distance from Seapa Makoto is the Kashima Park ferry boarding area to Kashima Island, reachable in about three minutes once you board the boat. The “ka” in Kashima is written with the character for “deer,” and the island is a national park known for the deer that live there. There’s an observation deck at the highest point that affords sweeping views of the islands of the Seto Inland Sea and the Hojo area, while the gorgeous coasts offer opportunities for swimming in summer. Board one of the cruise boats that leaves from Kashima Port to see some of the nearby islands up close—including Gyokuri-Kandojima, known for its beautiful sunsets. Kashima is a tiny island with a coastline just 1.5 km long, so it’s easy to park your bike at the Kashima Park ferry boarding area and pop over for a visit.

Address
Hojotsuji, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 799-2430

SPOT 8

Utsubo-ya

Utsubo-ya

Utsubo-ya is a longstanding Japanese confectioner established in 1954. The shop features a wide selection of treats, from botchan-dango (a famous Matsuyama confection that appears in the novel Botchan by Natsume Soseki) to original creations like matcha-flavored tarts. Utsubo-ya is a favorite with locals and visitors alike, thanks to its many simple, yet richly flavored Japanese confections. Treat yourself to something deliciously sweet to keep up your energy for the ride.

Address
230 Hirata-machi, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 791-8001
Phone
089-978-1611
Hours
8:30 am–5:00 pm Closed: Tuesdays and second/fourth Wednesdays

SPOT 9

Shijushima (Turner Island)

Shijushima (Turner Island)

Shijushima is a tiny island located about 150 m off the Kuroiwa cape south of Takahama Port. It got the widely-used nickname “Turner Island” because the pines growing on it are shaped like the pines in paintings by British artist William Turner—and the sight of Shijushima from the pier in Takahama Port looks straight out of a famous painting. Hop off your bike and take a moment to enjoy the view.

Address
1 Takahama-machi, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 791-8081

SPOT 10

Shiraishi Honpo

Shiraishi Honpo

Shiraishi Honpo is another renowned Japanese confectioner that has been in business for over 130 years. Their specialty is shoyu-mochi, a well-known traditional snack in Matsuyama that’s made by mixing rice flour with soy sauce and sugar, then steaming it. The shop sells shoyu-mochi with different fillings as well as shoyu-mochi with yuzu citrus, matcha, or other flavors. Even the locals love them—so much that they frequently sell out. You can buy them individually, so it’s a great place to drop in for a quick powerup during your ride.

Address
4-1-6 Honmachi, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 790-0811
Phone
089-924-4507
Hours
9:00 am–6:30 pm Closed: Sundays

SPOT 11

Irohaya (Shimizu location)

Irohaya (Shimizu location)

Irohaya is a local bakery with four locations in Matsuyama city. This hidden gem is famous for its mikan citrus melon bread (which you can buy at the Matsuyama Airport location), but the Shimizu location choses to forgo this popular product in order to focus its lineup exclusively on the original creations that the locals love, made with fresh local ingredients—like their sozai-pan topped with fruits and vegetables grown in Ehime Prefecture. Don’t pass it up if you get in the mood for a snack during your ride.

Address
3-70-2 Shimizu-machi, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 790-0823
Phone
089-926-3033
Hours
6:30 am–7:00 pm Closed: Mondays

SPOT 12

Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle is a must-see for anyone visiting Matsuyama. Located in the center of the city and constructed at an elevation of 132 m (433 ft) on a hill called Katsuyama. There are plenty of things to see at the castle, which incredibly houses 21 important cultural properties. There are kawara tiles engraved with the family crest of the Tokugawa (three hollyhock leaves), the clan that ruled Japan between the early 17th and late 19th centuries, and turrets in strange and unique shapes that can’t be found anywhere else. You can get to the main keep at the top of the hill by walking up the path to the top, or by using the ropeway or chairlift. Make sure to go up to the top floor of the keep for lovely panoramic views of the city. The main structure is also lit up at night, creating a wonderful sight from the outside as well.

Address
1 Marunouchi, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 790-0008
Phone
089-921-4873
Hours
9:00 am–5:00 pm (February–July, September–November), 9:00 am–5:30 pm (August), 9:00 am–4:30 pm (December and January) (last entry 30 minutes before the grounds close) Closed: Third Wednesday in December

SPOT 13

Bansuiso

Bansuiso

At the base of the hill on which Matsuyama Castle stands is a Western-style building that looks like a castle straight out of a fairy tale. The opulent interior is complete with chandeliers and marble mantlepieces. It’s used as a venue for photography exhibitions, concerts, and other events throughout the year, so make sure to check the schedule before you visit.

Address
3-3-7 Ichiban-cho, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 790-0001
Phone
089-921-3711
Hours
9:00 am–6:00 pm Closed: Mondays

SPOT 14

Saka no Ue no Kumo Museum

Saka no Ue no Kumo Museum

As you head down the slope from Bansuiso, you’ll find a beautiful concrete structure. It’s a historical museum dedicated to Saka no Ue no Kumo (Clouds Above the Hill), a work by Ryotaro Shiba, one of Japan’s most celebrated historical novelists. The building was designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando. There’s a café on the second floor where you can sip a great cup of coffee or some mikan citrus juice. Look out through the many windows and enjoy the greenery of the castle hill as you take a moment to relax.

Address
3-20 Ichiban-cho, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 790-0001
Phone
089-915-2600
Hours
9:00 am–6:30 pm (last entry 6:00 pm) Closed: Mondays (unless Monday is a public holiday)

GOAL

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Greeting you at the end of your journey is an old bathhouse that has been designated an important cultural property of Japan—renovated in 1894 and still in use today. The interior consists of two bathing areas, Kami-no-Yu (“Bath of the Gods”) and Tama-no-Yu (“Bath of the Spirits”) plus three relaxation rooms—which can be enjoyed in different combinations. Indulge in a long, hot soak after your ride to relax and unwind.

Address
5-6 Dogo Yunomachi, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture 790-0842
Phone
089-921-5141
Hours
6:00 am–11:00 pm Closed: Occasionally during December
Note
Parts of the Honkan will be closed for repairs and renovations through 2024
GOAL km

Getting to the start and end points

Start Point

Sunrise Itoyama

  • Just For Fun

    By bus

    Take the bus bound for Ohama via Koura from JR Imabari Station and get off at the Itoyama Tenbodai Iriguchi stop (about 11 minutes)

    By car

    About 10 minutes from the front of JR Imabari Station

End Point

Dogo Onsen Honkan

  • Just For Fun

    By train

    Take the Iyotetsu Railway train bound for Dogo Onsen from the stop in front of JR Matsuyama Station (25 minutes)

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