Priced from: $2,670 per student
Matsuyama is located in Shikoku, the smallest of the four main islands of Japan. Facing the tranquil and beautiful Seto Inland Sea, the region has a pleasant climate – mild throughout the year with little rainfall. With the sea to the west and mountains to the east, it’s a place that offers both the conveniences of a city and the slow pace of the countryside.
Dogo Onsen is one of the oldest Hot Spring Resorts in Japan and has a history over 1000 years. The resort has been visited by many famous people; including the Emperor (there is a room reserved only for his use). It was also made famous by Natsume Soseki's character Botchan; this character liked only this Hot Spring Resort.
The atmosphere of Dogo Onsen is especially lively in peak times and the water is slightly alkaline which is gentle on the skin. It is possible to take a bath as early as 6am; the sound of a drum at that hour once the baths are ready attracts bathers to the bathing rooms before breakfast.
This particular resort gives a feel of going back in time so it is certainly worth visiting!
MATSUYAMA CASTLE AND KOCHI CASTLE
Matsuyama Castle was built in the 1600's and is on top of Mt Katsuyama. It is one of the few castles in Japan with an intact keep and its first ruler was Yoshiaki Kato. Although it was partially damaged by the American bombings in World War II, it was restored and is currently frequented by tourists. Visitors can try on traditional Japanese armour for free; giving one a taste of what it may been like to have been a daimyo (local ruler of a province).
Kochi Castle is registered as an Important Cultural Asset and is one of the few fully intact castles. The keep contains tatami rooms although they are inaccessible because the castle is so old. The castle was ruled by Kazutoyo Yamanouchi and his descendents and there are statues on the grounds of the castle that exists to this day. On the grounds of the castle, the prefectural library and the Kochi Literary Museum as the grounds are a public park. In spring, it is especially popular as a place to see the cherry blossoms.