The Ultimate Japan Road Trip: Exploring the Hidden Gems of Ehime

Garyū Sansō Japan

There are many ways to fully immerse yourself in a country or continent, but nothing quite compares to the thrill of embarking on an epic road trip. Japan’s Ehime is a gorgeous prefecture located in the northwest quadrant of Shikoku Island, boasting stunning natural landscapes and a vibrant cultural heritage. It’s the perfect destination for a road trip loop, which ensures minimal time spent driving and maximum opportunities for exploration. This allows you to discover the natural beauty, cultural landmarks, and true essence of the prefecture.

Renowned for its traditional ryokan, Ehime offers couples idyllic settings to unwind after a day of exploration, where your day can conclude with the luxury of a hot spring bath, the serenity of zen gardens, and the delight of a traditional Japanese kaiseki dinner for two, showcasing the warm hospitality and splendour Japan is admired for.

Day 1: Matsuyama – The Gateway to Ehime

Matsuyama Castle
Matsuyama Castle

Your journey begins in Matsuyama, the vibrant capital of Ehime prefecture, where you can fully immerse yourself in this enchanting city’s fascinating history and culture.

Take advantage of the opportunity to visit the renowned Matsuyama Castle, one of Japan’s twelve original castles. Transport yourself back in time as you stroll through the castle grounds, admiring the remarkable architecture symbolising the feudal era. Ascend to the castle’s highest point and revel in breathtaking panoramic city vistas, gaining a genuine appreciation for the splendour and grandeur of Matsuyama.

As you delve deeper into the castle, you’ll uncover exquisite exhibits and artifacts that glimpse the past. Learn about the samurai warriors who once walked these halls and the historical events that shaped Matsuyama’s identity. With its rich history and well-preserved structures, the castle is a must-visit for history buffs and culture vultures alike.

After exploring the fascinating history of Matsuyama, it’s time to head towards the Setouchi Inland Sea. The Shimanami Kaido cycling road offers stunning views of the many islands scattered across the sea. To enhance your experience, rent a bicycle and pedal across the Kurushima Kaikyo, the first island of the Shimanami Kaido. Stop at the Kaizoku Museum to learn about the legendary warriors who once roamed the Setouchi region.

Journey time by road: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Day 2: Mt Ishizuchi

Mt Ishizuchi, Japan

Today, head out to explore the mountains and uncover the awe-inspiring Mt Ishizuchi, one of Japan’s revered peaks. Begin your day with a visit to the Ishizuchi Shrine, a sacred sanctuary nestled amidst lush forests. Wander along the shrine’s scenic trails, breathing in the crisp mountain air and embracing the tranquil beauty that surrounds you.

For an eye-popping experience, hop aboard the Ishizuchi Tozan Ropeway, a cable car that will transport you to the peak of Mt Ishizuchi. to enjoy the expansive views of grand mountains and lush valleys. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature enthusiast, Mt Ishizuchi guarantees an extraordinary experience.

Omogo Gorge

Travel Tip: At the foot of Mt. Ishizuchi is Omogo Gorge, an awe-inspiring national landmark celebrated for its crystal-clear blue waters and vivid autumnal colours. We recommend allowing yourself plenty of time to explore this region, ensuring you have the opportunity to marvel at this remarkable gorge and all the other incredible attractions mentioned previously.

With its charming network of scenic hiking trails meandering through its majestic landscape, the gorge provides a tranquil atmosphere that characterises the essence of this special part of Japan, and you could easily spend hours enjoying the surroundings.

Journey time: 2 hours 10 minutes.

Day 3: Shikoku Karst Natural Park

Shikoku Karst Natural Park Japan
Shikoku Karst Natural Park

Today, you’ll set out on an exciting escapade in the Shikoku Karst Natural Park, a paradise for nature lovers. This extensive park is famous for its scenic drives, vast meadows, and expansive skies. Select your preferred activity here — whether it’s a leisurely cycle or tackling a more demanding hike — and immerse yourself in the stunning splendour of this natural wonderland.

During the warmer months, camping becomes a highly sought-after activity in the park. As the day turns into night, the sky transforms into a breathtaking canvas adorned with countless twinkling stars, and spending a night sleeping under this celestial spectacle is a truly unforgettable experience.

Journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Day 4: Nametoko Gorge – Adventure Awaits

Mt Onigajo
Mt Onigajo

Begin an exhilarating exploration of Nametoko Gorge, situated at the foot of the majestic Mt Onigajo. This breathtaking gorge is surrounded by a lush and verdant forest landscape, showcasing unparalleled beauty and magnificence.

Nametoko Gorge is an unforgettable and exciting destination for both seasoned adrenaline junkies and those new to the world of adventure. With heart-pounding canyoning opportunities, prepare for an action-packed day filled with excitement.

Journey time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

Day 5: Ozu – A Journey Back in Time

Ozu Castle Japan

The quaint town of Ozu is renowned for its vibrant cultural traditions, offering many delightful experiences. Start your exploration by visiting Ozu Castle, where you can leisurely wander through the grounds and admire the magnificent architecture. This imposing four-story structure, dating back to the fourteenth century, overlooks the Hiji River in Ozu.

Alternatively, take advantage of the rare opportunity to spend a night within its walls, fully immersing yourself in its rich history and grandeur.

After your castle adventure, take a stroll through the historic streets. Pause at a traditional tea house to soak in the atmosphere of this historic place.

Finish your day here with a relaxing river cruise along the Hijikawa River, where you will be treated to the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes.

Day 6: Uchiko – A Glimpse into the Past

Uchiko Japan

On the last day of your road trip, venture to Uchiko, a small town that will transport you back to 18th-century Japan. Uchiko is widely known for its wax manufacturing industry and its charming artisanal shops, which offer a unique and fascinating glimpse into the world of traditional Japanese craftsmanship.

As you explore the town, be sure to visit the Uchikoza Theatre, where you can witness performances of traditional Japanese theatre. Take your time strolling along the 600-metre streets, designed in the hirairi zukuri style, and allow yourself to be fully absorbed in the timeless beauty of this enchanting town before returning to Matsuyama.

For more information to help you plan your Ehime, Japan holiday or vacation, visit the local tourism office’s website.

Scroll to Top