Known as the ‘holy ground for cyclists’, Imabari city is located at the southernmost part of Shimanami Kaido.
This time we will introduce the base for Imabari information:
Roadside Station Imabari Yunoura Onsen.
Located in the southeast of Imabari city by Road 196, which leads to Shimanami Kaido, near the roadside station you can find hill views over the Sakurai Coast with pine trees and a sandy beach that’s been selected among Japan’s top 100. Making the area an ideal resting place, there’s also a hot spring district.
This monument is also a roadside station landmark.
The history of Yunoura Onsen starts from the Nara period (710-794). The area is connected to Fujiwara no Miyako, the daughter of Fujiwara no Fuhito and the mother of Emperor Shomu.
Known for their healing properties, the waters of the spring are of superior quality, and have also been selected among Japan’s top 100 hot springs.
Roadside Station Yunoura Onsen offers services and delicious foods that can only be found there.
First off is the “Onsen Stand”, an Ehime prefecture, one-of-a-kind, must-visit hot spring for people who want beautiful skin.
Believe it or not, you can take some of the superior quality hot spring water away with you from this station!
Roadside stations with hot spring stands are very rare in Japan, and this is the only one of its kind in Ehime prefecture. If you put JPY100 in the machine, 100 liters of hot spring water will flow out over around 20 minutes.
Do try this superior-quality hot spring water with a 1300-year history at home, too. (The water comes out cold, so please heat it before use.)
Next is the souvenir corner.
When you enter, you can see rows of products that focus on local specialties and make perfect souvenirs.
Among these local products, I’d like to recommend one in particular that is only sold at Roadside Station Imabari Yunoura Onsen. “Kaikyo tsuyu” is a treasured seasoning sauce developed by the manager of the roadside station.
A local favorite that was the result of a project to develop a unique udon soup after the opening of Shimanami Kaido in 1998, it can be used in all kinds of dishes, and gives them a professional flavor.
So, how about picking up some handy bottles of “Okusama Koukou Bannou Chomi-eki Kaikyo Tsuyu” as souvenirs??
Here’s another recommended product: “Chu-chu-jelly”.
A popular jelly that grabbed first place at the 2nd Regional Oyatsu (‘Snack’) Grand Prix, it is made of carefully squeezed seasonal citrus fruit juices. As this luxurious jelly doesn’t contain any preservatives or flavorings, it makes a perfect snack even for children. (Try the mandarin version – The fruit is carefully chosen from the wide variety of types available.)
Among the meals offered only at the roadside station restaurant, I recommend this specialty: “Kaikyo meshi”.
It’s fisherman’s dish of Japanese horse mackerel topped rice that is shipped in that day, and garnished with dashi soy sauce and wasabi. Fresh fish from the Kurushima channel is truly a treat.
Though Imabari is known for its sea bream pot rice, this is also a dish you’ll want to try at least once.
Though the last one is especially perfect during hot Japanese summers, I buy soft serve ice cream every time I visit a roadside station!
“Marine soft” is one of a myriad of local soft serve ice creams sold in the Imabari area. Made in the image of the tidal whirlpools of Kurushima channel, it’s a two-colored ice cream that mixes soda mint (blue) and vanilla (white).
It’s on offer in the souvenir corner – Do have a taste!
There’s also an information & rest corner at this roadside station where you can search for maps and sightseeing information, among others.
As the station also offers bicycle rentals, a bicycle trip to the Sakurai Coast might be a nice idea, too.
Roadside Station Imabari Yunoura Onsen is a base for spreading information on Imabari.
If you visit Imabari, do drop by.
Roadside Station Imabari Yunoura Onsen
Location: 252-2 Nagasawa, Imabari city, Ehime prefecture
Open: 9.00-18.00 (July & August 8:30-18:30)
Closed: Open year round
Parking: 3 places for large vehicles, 30 places for normal passenger vehicles
In use: 7:00-21:00
Fees: JPY100 per 100 liters
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Ohashi
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