Japan // Shikoku //


Further north along the Yosan line the train hits the coast at Yawatahama (八幡浜), where there are ferries to Beppu and Usuki in Kyūshū. It then turns inland to reach ŌZU (大洲) on the banks of the Hiji-kawa. The town’s billing as a mini-Kyoto is overselling the place; still Ōzu has its charms, particularly so from June 1 to September 20 when the river is the location for ukai – fishing with cormorants. To view the display from a boat costs ¥3000; for bookings call Ōzu tourist office.

At other times of the year, the town is worth visiting to see the picturesque Ōzu Castle (大洲城; daily 9am–4.30pm; ¥500 or ¥800 with entry to Garyū Sansō). Destroyed in 1888, the four-storey donjon of this fortress commanding a bend in the river was rebuilt in 2004 to its original sixteenth-century specifications. The grounds are a riot of pink in cherry blossom season.

From the castle, follow the river for around fifteen minutes as it bends southeast to reach steps leading up to Garyū Sansō (臥龍山荘; daily 9am–4.30pm; ¥500), a prime example of a traditional villa built in the sukiya kenchiku architectural style with a triangular thatched roof. Beautifully detailed woodcarvings and fixtures inside are matched by a lovely moss-and-stone garden outside leading to a teahouse and a separate moon-viewing platform overlooking the river. Head directly west back into Ōzu from the river to locate Ohanahan-tōri (おはなはん通り), a short street lined with traditional houses including one that has been converted into a good restaurant (see Uchiko). Also worth a look before leaving town is the gallery, gift shop and café Ōzu Akarengakan (おおず赤煉瓦館; daily 9am–5pm), housed in a handsome red-brick complex dating from 1901 and once used as a bank.

Ōzu is forty minutes by express train from either Uwajima or Mastuyama. The town’s train station, Iyo Ōzu (伊予大洲), is around 2km northwest of the Hiji-kawa and the castle. The tourist information desk (daily at least 8.30am–5pm; t 0893/24-2664) is on the south side of Ōzu. The assistants here can advise where to find bicycle rental and suggest places to stay should you get the unlikely urge to linger overnight. For eating, Shun (旬; t 0893/23-4031; daily except Thurs 11.30am–2pm & 6–10pm), on Ohanahan-tōri, is a restaurant in an attractive traditional house facing a neatly tended garden. Its speciality is beef satsuma-jiru (¥1260). On the north side of the Hiki-kawa-bashi is Tarui (たる井; t 0893/24-3000; Tues–Sun 11.30am–2.30pm & 5–8.30pm), a restaurant in a large wooden-beamed building specializing in unagi (eel) dishes. Also worth trying here is the rich, savoury rice porridge, called zousui (ぞうすい; ¥630).

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