Spirited Away at Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama


“Once you do something, you never forget. Even if you can’t remember.”‘
-Zeniba, Spirited Away

Dogo Onsen is the oldest hot spring in Japan and is located in the forested town of Matsuyama, Shikoku. Not only is it a relic of history frequented by many onsen enthusiasts and vacationers, but is also the inspiration of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” movie. Home of Matsuyama Castle, the Botchan Railroad (one of the oldest railroads still running in Japan), and many traditional shops that sell delicious oranges, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported back in time when you arrive at this city!


The easiest way to reach this town is to fly from Tokyo to Matsuyama Airport and then take a bus to the central part of town.  From there, you can ride the Botchan Railroad straight to the onsen complex and choose from 3 public baths to enter.  As a day traveler, you have the option of paying an entrance fee to use the bath and shower facilities as well as renting towels and shampoo.  For more information on the fees and opening times, please see the Dogo Onsen Website (English).


Shikoku island is a very nostalgic place to me because I first started teaching English in Tokushima, the prefecture east of Matsuyama City (Ehime Prefecture) in 2015.  At first I resented living there because I thought the technology was quite primitive compared to Tokyo and it was extremely difficult for me to understand the spoken dialect that that is unique to these cities. However, now I have much more appreciation for these places after living in the city for three years.  I enjoy traveling to Shikoku now because it preserves the original culture and tradition of Japan, and never feels too touristy.  If you use buses, you can actually save a lot of money, plus accommodations, food, and shopping are far cheaper here than other places in Japan.

I recommend visiting the cities of this island if you have been in Japan for a while, because you will likely learn new aspects of the culture that you have not seen on the other islands yet!  I took a day trip here, but you could easily spend 2 full days in this city, or use the JR Shikoku buses to easily bus around the island.  Often you can buy the ticket on the same day, but I would recommend buying it in advance.


I ended my day with some delicious soumen topped with fish at 五志㐂 (Goshiki) nearby the onsen.  The noodles are slightly different-colored and have an amazing taste!  The also had a slight orange flavor to them, and the meal came as a set for great value.  Yup, I’m definitely getting spirited away now…

I will be writing about my adventure in Kochi, Shikoku in my next post!  Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about traveling around Japan! ♥

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