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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Culture

Ozu 大洲市

A towering castle and red brick craft house make this town a little gem

Located not far from Ehime's capital city of Matsuyama, the town of Ozu is known as the Little Kyoto of Iyo. It's a great place to visit offering the historical allure of Kyoto in a tranquil countryside setting.

Don't Miss

  • Try the matcha in the teahouse of Garyu Sanso
  • Watch the incredible Uwakai cormorant fishing, where fisherman use birds to catch fish
  • Wander around the quiet streets to take in the traditional architecture

How to Get There

Ozu is a short trip from Matsuyama by train, and you can see all of its main attractions within a day.

Take the Yosan Line Uwakai Limited Express from Matsuyama to Ozu. It takes around 40 minutes. Once you're in Ozu, the main attractions of the city are about 20 to 30 minutes walk from the station. There is a bus that travels from the station to Ozu castle. It runs twice an hour and takes around five minutes.

Quick Facts

Ozu is sometimes known as the Little Kyoto of Iyo. Iyo is the old name for Ehime Prefecture

Ozu Castle was rebuilt entirely using traditional methods

The city is one of three locations in Japan where fishing with cormorants is still practiced

Petite castle with stunning views

Visit the lovingly restored Ozu Castle, which overlooks the sweeping Hijikawa River. Its interior is just as beautiful as the exterior; the cypress beams emanate a rich, woody scent. You can learn about the history of Ozu and see armor of the feudal lords up close.

From the top of the castle, you can see beautiful views of the river and city. Below the castle is the adorable Rarirurero Café where you can enjoy coffee and homemade sweets.

The castle in summer and spring

Fireworks during Ozu's summer festival

Red brick and retro memorabilia

Ozu is home to Akarengakan, a rare red brick building which houses locally crafted, handmade artisanal goods, including washi paper, silk bags, candles and local foods.

Pokepen Yokocho, a retro market, and museum, is located just next door. On select Sundays, throughout the month the outside street comes alive with vendors selling food and games. On a regular day, it's still well worth visiting the small museum crammed to the rafters with Showa period (1926-1989) memorabilia. It includes a recreation house, barbers, and a car garage.

Try the local delicacies

When in the area you have to try local specialty tonkurimabushi — a dish of rice topped with melt-in-your-mouth pork, sweet chestnuts, and a tangy sauce. If you're more of a seafood lover, don't miss taimeshi (sea bream rice) inspired by the neighboring city of Uwajima, where the fish is served raw.

The most charming pocket of Ehime

Take a walk through the charming streets of the Old Town area to Garyu Sanso. Here you can stroll through the perfectly landscaped moss covered gardens, towards the famous Garyu Sanso tea-house. Take time to soak up the stunning views of the Hijikawa River and the mountains beyond.

Beauty all year round

Ozu completely transforms with the passing seasons, making it a great place to visit all year round. In early May, 60,000 azalea trees bloom on the summit of Ozu's Mt. Tomisu. In fall you have to try the local hot pot. This dish made is known as imotaki, the main ingredient is satoimo (Japanese taro root) with deep-fried tofu, mushroom, and chicken.

In winter you can see the unusual misty cloud formations called hijikawa arashi. The difference between the heat and cold during the day causes mists early in the morning, which then rush down into the sea.

Witness the old art of Ukai cormorant fishing

Ukai cormorant fishing in the Hijikawa River is a signature summer event. A traditional, though almost extinct, fishing method, ukai cormorant fishing uses trained local seabirds to catch small Japanese trout ayu (sweet fish). The fishing typically begins at around 7.p.m at night. While you eat, drink and relax by the waterside、 watch as cormorant fishermen skillfully juggle several birds at once.

Off the beaten track

Ozu is filled with many hidden delights and a convenient base for other delights. To the north of the area sits the major city of Matsuyama filled with history and home to one of Japan's last original castles. To the south of Ozu is the coastal city of Uwajima, which is home to another impressive castle, but is most well known for its bullfight events that are hosted here five times a year.

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