How I decided to visit Ehime Prefecture. <Travel Diary of an American Exchange Student: Part 1 >

How I decided to visit Ehime Prefecture. <Travel Diary of an American Exchange Student: Part 1 >

Of Japan’s four main islands, Shikoku is perhaps the least visited by tourists, domestic or otherwise. But the fact that even many Japanese people have not made a trip to Shikoku did not dissuade me. On the contrary, the imagined remoteness of the island held a certain kind of allure that differed from well known travel spots like the city of Kyoto.

These days, the number of foreign tourists is higher than ever due to the weak yen and the government’s visa policy. However, it is likely that many of these tourists choose to visit well-known places such as Kyoto or Tokyo, and they may mistakenly come away with the impression that that those flagship cities are all Japan has to offer. This is unfortunate for two reasons.

First, there is the risk that by visiting the most famous places in a country, visitors will end up with a packaged itinerary with little room for variation, missing out on those personal, individual experiences which create memories that last for a lifetime. Taking an example from my own travel experiences in Europe, one of my fondest memories was not of places like the London Bridge, but of the volunteer-led walking tour of street graffiti art led by a local. Through the event, my travel companion and I were able to make friends with local students who invited us out to dinner. We spent the night over Indian food, discussing the differences between our countries politics and our mother tongues. We still keep in touch to this day. I have repeatedly found that I enjoyed places and activities slightly off the beaten path. I believe it brings people closer to the sense of adventure that is at the heart of travel. Because Shikoku is neither absent of tourists nor inundated with them, locals are welcoming and warm. There are many chances to interact with locals in a more personal level, leading to truly memorable experiences like the one described above.

Second, Shikoku is a promising place to visit because it combines history, relaxation through a slower pace of life, and the charms of local Japan all in one place. A fitting example of this is Dogo Onsen, located in Ehime Prefecture. I think people will be amazed that this is Japan’s oldest onsen (natural hot spring)! It has over 3,000 years of history, longer than some countries have been in existence (much longer than my country, America)! Between reading a translation of Soseki Natsumi’s Botchan, which features the onsen, absorbing Japanese culture (literally) by soaking in mineral-rich hot water in the traditional Japanese style hot spring, and snacking on sweet dango treats, visitors can have a well rounded and memorable experience.

Although many people have never been to Shikoku before, I believe this is not because of any particular reason not to go, but rather because most people simply haven’t considered it as an option. I encourage you to look beyond the bright lights of the big cities and set out on an adventure to the island of Shikoku, making personal memories that will stick with you long after you have returned home.

September 10 to 13 and October 29 and 30, 2015
Ehime Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefecture

 Schedule  Time   Route    Description  Cost(JPY)
Travel in Ehime
Day 1
(Sept. 10)
PM Narita Airport to Matsuyama Airport Tokyo to Ehime (on Jetstar domestic) 10,000
Day of departure   Matsuyama Meal at Matsuyama Airport 2,000
Transit to Ishite-ji and shrine (by taxi) 4,000
Ishite-ji and shrines 500
Transit to hotel (by taxi) 4,000
Dinner and accommodation (hotel) 10,000
Day 2
(Sept. 11)
Morning Breakfast (hotel)
Matsuyama to Uwajima Transit to Uwajima (by train) 3,500
PM Uwajima sights 2,000
Lunch (in Uwajima Station area) 3,500
Uwajima to Matsuyama Transit to Matsuyama (by train) 3,500
Dinner and accommodation (hotel) 10,000
Day 3
(Sept. 12)
Morning Matsuyama Breakfast (hotel)
PM Matsuyama Castle sights 1,200
Walk around Matsuyama Castle area
Dogo Onsen 2,000
Dinner and accommodation (hotel) 10,000
Day 4
(Sept. 13)
Morning Breakfast (hotel)
PM Transit to airport (by taxi) 4,000
Matsuyama Airport to Narita Airport Ehime to Tokyo (by plane)
Travel in Kumamoto
Day 1
(Oct. 29)
Morning Narita Airport to Kumamoto Airport Tokyo to Kumamoto
(on Jetstar domestic)
PM Kumamoto Transit to Kumamoto Station (by taxi) 4,000
Transit from Kumamoto Station to Suizen-ji Park (by train) 200
Kumamoto sights 600
Dinner and accommodation (hotel) 9,000
Day 2
(Oct. 30)
Morning Breakfast (hotel)
PM Transit to airport (by taxi) 4,000
Kumamoto Airport to Narita Airport Kumamoto to Tokyo (by plane)
Total(JPY) 100,000

・Zachary Lazbasan (Zack)
・Time in Japan: 3 Years
A 24-year-old from California in the United States, Zachary has spent three years as an Japanese exchange student. It was during his studies of international relations that he decided to attend university in Japan, realizing that overseas he would have more contact with different cultures and social values.

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