Said to have been visited by Ookuninushi-no-Mikoto and Sukunabikona-no-Mikoto who appear in Japanese legends, Dogo Onsen is the most well known hot spring in Matsuyama city (Ehime prefecture). However, there is another hot spring with a legend attached of the deities that visited Dogo Onsen!
And that is the Okudogo hot springs.
Driving about 10-minutes towards Imabari along national highway 315 from Dogo Onsen, you come to a large building within a beautiful ravine.
You have the legend of the gods who regained their health after taking a bath at Dogo Onsen, but there is a continuation to the story.
After Sukunabikona-no-Mikoto had been revived at Dogo Onsen, he and Sukunabikona-no-Mikoto continued on in search of the source of the Dogo Onsen hot spring. It’s said that the place they found it is close to the current Okudogo Onsen, which is located near the Ichiyu no Mori complex.
The grounds of Ichiyu no Mori are large, and in the ravine further down from the hotel flows a beautiful river.
Though hotel has various facilities, it is home to one of the largest open-air baths in the Shikoku area. We especially recommend this one where you can bathe while enjoying the beautiful view of the ravine.
Rare in Shikoku, the water is a fine quality simple alkaline sulphur hot spring, which flows continuously from the source. A “bath for beauties”, the water has a soap-like cleansing effect that removes impurities and old skin to leave your skin feeling silky smooth.
Also known as “Wakagaeri no yu” (‘Bath for rejuvenation’), the hot spring has great deoxidizing effects as it removes free radicals, which are said to be the root cause of aging and illnesses, while helping you recover from fatigue.
Together with the murmuring of the river, the chirping of the birds, and the beautiful scenery, it heals both the body and the soul.
The hotel has both Japanese and western style rooms. This is a western style one.
It’s a lovely room with large windows from which you can admire the seasonal changes of nature. Any travel fatigue will just slip away…
This is a room with its own private open-air bath.
Being able to get in the open-air bath with views of the natural surroundings at whatever time you want is such a luxury.
This is Ginshotei, the hotel’s tearoom.
Located on the small hill in the hotel grounds, it’s an invaluable part of the cultural heritage that has remained the same since the Meiji period.
Inviting guests in is not the usual small teahouse entrance, called ‘nijiriguchi‘, but rather the kininguchi. A kininguchi is an entrance for people in high positions, and unlike the nijiriguchi, through which you enter while remaining seated, you stand when entering through a kininguchi.
The elegant wooden paneling in the entrance is made of thinly carved Japanese cedar, and during a brief time at dusk, the light shines on it, dyeing it in red.
It’s the kind of building you rarely see nowadays.
This is Tsubonakagawa.
When Nakagawa, a traditional Japanese restaurant for the political world discontinued business the hotel took it over and in 1983 dismantled and rebuilt it again here. The name comes from adding one character (‘Tsubo’) to the restaurant’s name from the surname of Mr. Tsubouchi, one of the restaurant’s previous owners.
The garden is an authentically Japanese. Making it an invaluable space, here you can come into contact with the essence of real Japanese gardens. Even now it is visited by prominent figures from different fields, as well as being used for company receptions, and ceremonies held by individuals, among other events.
This is Chikujuan, which is used as a banquet hall.
Originally built as a study for Renzaburo Shibata, a writer known for example for his Kyoshiro Nemuri series, it has a thatched roof, something that is rare nowadays. The hanging scroll on the wall was written by Togo Heichachiro who is known for his achievements in the first Sino-Japanese war, as well as the Russo-Japanese war. It was written 3 years after the end of the Russo-Japanese war.
As you can see, within the hotel there are many pieces of invaluable cultural heritage.
This is the hotel’s prided kaiseki course meal.
Along with seasonal vegetables and meat, you can see fresh fruits of the Seto Inland Sea on offer.
This is the hotel’s popular dinner buffet.
And the photograph is only one part of it! From sushi to curry, Japanese, western, Chinese and many other varieties of dishes are lined up on the tables.
The performance corners where you can see fish, tempura, fried skewers and kebab among other dishes being prepared are also popular.
Ichiyu no Mori has so many charms that we can’t fit them all into one article!
It’s our recommended spot for the travelling season. Do come by for a visit at least once.
Okudogo Ichiyu no Mori
Location: 267 Suemachi, Matsuyama city, Ehime prefecture
Open: Year round
Hot spring day trips:
Open: 11:30-21:00 (Last entrance at 20:00)
Admission: Adults (from middle school age) JPY1080, Children (3 years old to elementary school students) JPY540
http://www.okudogo.co.jp/index.php (Japanese – reservation details available in English)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Oshima
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