Model Course

Model Course

The Ishizuchi Mountain Range possesses many attractive features, from breathtaking sceneries, to customs developed through the lives of its people, to mysterious historical local stories. There are so many unique experiences to be gained here that could not be found anywhere else. Below are suggestions of six inspiring sightseeing courses that will help you plan your travel days efficiently. Some cater to specific seasons. Many encounters found along the way will be sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.

1Visiting the “Niyodo Blue” and Mountains with Spectacular Views

Iyo IC → Niko-buchi waterfall basin → Ichinotani Yakata → UFO Line drive → Kamega-mori mountain hike → Road station Michi-no eki Konoka → Iyo Saijo IC

Start from Ino-chō (Kōchi Pref) and first visit the Niko-buchi waterfall basin, a spot many travelers long to visit. For lunch, enjoy a mountain village cuisine at Ichinotani Yakata. Travel on the UFO Line, an ethereal path that looks amazing on Instagram, and fully immerse yourself in nature on a Kamega-mori Mountain hike. Conclude the tour by shopping at the road station Michi-no eki Konoka. This approximately eight-hour course full of activities is recommended for early summer through the fall.

Area
Ino-chō, Saijō City
Best season
early summer-fall
Time required
8 hours
StartIno IC

About a 60-minute drive

01Niko-buchi20 minutes

A waterfall basin known for its “Niyodo blue” located at Eda-gawa river, a tributary of Niyodo-gawa, and the most beautiful spot in the watershed area. It is a fantastical place whose legend claims that a large serpent believed to be an embodiment of a river deity lives here.

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About a 30-minute drive

02Ichinotani Yakata (lunch)60 minutes

A restaurant located near the Kanpū-zan Tunnel. Nearby are a waterfall at the headstream of the Yoshino-gawa river and the refreshing sounds of the babbling river. It is famous for its dishes of Shamo chicken and tōfu made by immersing it in the flowing Yoshino-gawa water.

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03UFO Line Drive80-minute Drive

A driving route totaling 27 kilometers that runs along a ridge from elevation 1,300 meters to 1,700 meters. A popular place that attracts large crowds for its dynamic seasonal sceneries especially of spring green trees and fall foliage.

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04Kamega-mori Mountain Hiking90 minutes

Kamega-mori is the third highest ridge in Ehime Prefecture from which the dignified presence of Mount Ishizuchi can be seen beyond a field of bamboo grass and skeletal forest. As it takes about one hour to hike from the entrance of the Kamega-mori forest road to Meyama mountain, it is a relatively easy climb even for a beginner.

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About a 60-minute drive

05Roadside Station Michi-no eki Konoka60 minutes

A multi-purpose complex with a secluded atmosphere located near the Yoshino-gawa river that has shops offering Ino-chō city’s local specialty products, hot spring baths that guests can enjoy for the day without staying overnight, and a restaurant with a stunning panoramic view through its picture window.

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About a 50-minute drive

06Iyo Saijo IC

2Soothing Beauty of the Gorge and the Ishizuchi Skyline

Matsuyama IC → Road Station Michi-no eki Tenkū no Sato Sansan → Exploring Omogo-kei gorge & Kisentei → Ishizuchi Skyline drive → Tsuchigoya → Omogo-sangaku Museum → Matsuyama IC

When approaching Mount Ishizuchi from the side of Kumakōgen-chō, the Omogo-kei gorge at the headstream of Niyodo-gawa river is a stunning sight. First, stop by the road station Michi-no eki Tenkū no Sato Sansan, then head to Omogo-kei gorge. Have a good meal at Keisentei while viewing the beautiful gorge up close, then enjoy a drive on the Ishizuchi Skyline. Tsuchi-goya and Omogo-sangaku Museum which have become gathering places for mountain climbers are also places worth stopping by.

Area
Kumakōgen-chō, Saijō city
Best season
early summer to fall
Time required
8 hours
StartMatsuyama IC

About a 40-minute drive

01Road Station Michi-no eki Tenkū no Sato Sansan20 minutes

A road station located in the highland town of Kumakōgen-chō at an average elevation of 800 meters. Especially popular are the freshly baked bread at Sansan Bakery and the restaurant that offers delicious dishes made with an abundance of locally grown vegetables.

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About a 50-minute drive

02Omogo-kei gorge and Keisentei (lunch)150 minutes

Omogo-kei gorge, a nationally designated place of beauty, is lined with places of interest including Sekimon- and Goshiki-gawara riverbeds, and Goraikō-no-taki waterfalls. Another is Kamebara, and near it is restaurant Keisentei, where simple dishes made with Omogo’s local ingredients can be enjoyed.

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03Ishizuchi Skyline Drive40-minute drive

An exhilarating drive from Omogo-kei gorge to the trail entrance to climb Mount Ishizuchi. Mount Ishizuchi can be viewed during almost the entire drive. Because it is most popular with visitors during the fall foliage season, it is sometimes called the “Momiji (maple) Line.”

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04Tsuchi-goya30 minutes

From Tsuchi-goya, Mount Ishizuchi’s crisp ridgeline can be viewed against the blue sky on a clear day. Nearby are Tuchigoya Shiraishi Lodge and Iwaguro Rest House which are famous for their amazake (sweet fermented rice drink) and hotpot dish called oden. Grilled mochi and kusa-mochi (sweet mochi containing mugwort) are also delicious.

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About a 30-minute drive

05Omogo-sangaku Museum30 minutes

Over 1,000 types of plants found in the Ishizuchi Mountain Range are exhibited using models and photographs. Additionally, visitors can view taxidermies of animals that live in the area displayed in dioramas, and learn about the local history and culture.

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About a 70-minute drive

06Matsuyama IC

3Exploring Kōchi Prefecture’s Ōkawa-mura, a Village with the Smallest Population in Japan

Iyo Saijo IC → Shirataki-no-sato Donguri-no-mori trekking & BBQ lunch of local Hachikin chicken and Ōkawa-kuroushi beef → Yui-no-sato → Kogane-taki waterfall → Iyo Saijo IC

Ōkawa-mura of Kōchi Prefecture is a village that, with the exception of some remote islands, has the smallest population in Japan. While it is a small village, it offers local specialties like Ōkawa-kuroushi beef and local Hachikin chicken and is loved as a place where travelers can have a leisurely time surrounded by rich nature. Start at multi-purpose facility Shirataki-no-sato as home base and spend an unhurried time at a “village pace” venturing out to nearby Ōkawa-mura Shūraku-katsudō Center for shopping and rest, and to the famous Kogane-taki, a waterfall with an 80 to 100-meter drop.

Area
Ōkawa-mura
Best season
spring-fall
Time required
7 hours
StartIyo Saijo IC

About a 70-minute drive

01Shirataki-no-sato Donguri-no-mori trekking & BBQ lunch of local Hachikin chicken and Ōkawa-kuroushi beef210 minutes

A trekking tour that lets you immerse in the nature of Ōkawa-mura that starts from Shizen Ōkoku Shirataki-no-sato, a multipurpose facility built on the site of Shirataki-kōzan, a mine that was the third-largest in the Shikoku region. After finishing the trek, enjoy an extravagant barbecue lunch!

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About a 15-minute drive

02Ōkawa-mura Shūraku-katsudō Center Yui-no-sato30 minutes

Visitors are welcome to leisurely stop by at this village community center. You can buy vegetables grown in the village and processed goods and craft products made by the villagers, and enjoy interacting with them.

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About a 15-minute drive

03Kogane-taki waterfall20-minute Drive

The 80 to 100-meter-drop waterfall is one of the highest in Shikoku region. The water thunderously falling down a dramatically steep precipice is a spectacular sight to behold. The scene is particularly beautiful during the tsuyu rainy season when the water volume increases, and in the fall when the surrounding foliage turn colors.

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About a 70-minute drive

04Iyo Saijo IC

4Exploring the beautiful history and culture of Saijō

Iyo Saijo IC → Walking in Saijō-han jinya-ato → Hokoku zen-dera temple → Takebayashi → Ishizuchi-jinja Kuchi-no-miya honsha main shrine → Nishiyama kōryū-ji temple → Seiyū-an

Saijō, the city of water, has many historical heritage sites that has been preserved to this day, including the Saijō-han jinya remains which speak to us of its history that started in the Edo period. Spend time of inner healing in places of powerful spiritual energy like the Hokoku zen-dera temple, Ishizuchi-jinja Kuchi-no-miya honsha main shrine, and Nishiyama kōryū-ji temple. Takebayashi, hidden away in a spot surrounded by a bamboo forest, and Seiyū-an where you can enjoy your meal while viewing a Japanese garden, are highly recommended restaurants for their elegant ambiance.

Area
Saijō city
Best season
year round
Time required
9 hours
StartIyo Saijo IC

About a 15-minute drive

01Walking in Saijō-han jinya remains (IOKI memorial museum, Ehime museum of folkcraft, Saijō-kyōdo-hakubutsukan folk museum, Saijō-eikō church)90 minutes

At Saijō-han jinya remains, you will find remanence of an administrative headquarters that was built by the Hitotsuyanagi-ke family and was later run by the Matsudaira-ke for 200 years. Visitors can explore all types of history here by visiting the memorial museum, folk museum, and church designed by URABE Shizutarō all of which blend well with a landscape surrounded by a moat.

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About a 15-minute drive

02Hokoku zen-dera Temple15 minutes

This temple was founded over 1,200 years ago. Behind the main hall with a reed-thatched roof is the oldest garden in Shikoku region created during the Muromachi period, which has been officially designated place of beauty, and it includes a Mount Ishizuchi expressed using blue-colored tuff taken from Iyo. Feel the times of old as you pay respect with a peaceful heart.

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About a 10-minute drive

03Takebayashi (lunch)60 minutes

A soba restaurant that stands peacefully surrounded by a takebayashi, or a bamboo forest, as indicated by its name. Enjoy the chef’s discriminating taste of jūwari (100%) buckwheat noodles made using the famous Saijō water, served with handmade bamboo dishes and chopsticks. A popular spot considered a hidden gem.

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About a 10-minute drive

04Ishizuchi-jinja Kuchi-no-miya Honsha Main Shrine60 minutes

The Ishizuchi-jinja shrine, which worships the sacred Mount Ishizuchi, is made up of four shrines—the Kuchi-no-miya honsha main shrine, the Jōju-, Chōjō-, and Tsuchi-goya Yōhaiden shrines. The Kuchi-no-miya honsha stands on a hill as the main shrine overlooking the Seto Inland Sea and can be visited at the foot of the mountain.

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About a 30-minute drive

05Nishiyama kōryū-ji Temple90 minutes

A temple famous for being Emperor Kanmu’s chokugan-ji (an imperial temple designated to pray for the nation). One of the best spots in Ehime Prefecture for fall foliage viewing. You will be enchanted by the cultural properties including the main hall that has been designated as an officially designated important cultural property, the temple gate decorated with impressive carvings, and the beautiful sceneries created by the stone steps and stone walls.

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About a 15-minute drive

06Seiyū-an (dinner)120 minutes

A restaurant where you can enjoy Japanese dinners made with local seasonal ingredients like vegetables that grow abundantly on the mountains of Ishizuchi and seafood from the Seto Inland Sea. It is an exceptional experience to enjoy delicious dishes served in a room with a peaceful ambiance. The entire experience will make your five senses rejoice and leave you feeling fulfilled.

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5Ino-chō: Tracing the Roots of Tosa Washi Paper

Ino IC → Ino-chō Paper Museum → Home of YOSHII Genta (YOSHII Genta-ō Seika) → Sugimoto-jinja shrine → Tosa Washi Craft Village QRAUD → Nagoya Chinka-bashi bridge → Kōchi Ice baiten shop→ 633-bi-no sato → Musasabi-onsen Hot Springs → Ino IC

The Ino-chō Paper Museum located on the banks of Niyodo-gawa river lets visitors learn about and experience the industry that was born from the clean water. Visit the home of YOSHII Genta to explore how this great man lived, the Sugimoto- jinja shrine which is said to bring blessings of a thriving business, Tosa Washi Craft Village QRAUD for your meals, and then the nearby Nagoya Chinka-bashi bridge. After taking a break at Kōchi Ice that offers a fabulous view of the “Niyodo Blue,” do some shopping at road station 633-bi (read “mu-sa-sa-bi”)-no sato, then finish up your trip by relaxing at the Musasabi-onsen hot springs.

Area
Ino-chō
Best season
year round
Time required
7.5 hours
StartIno IC

About a 20-minute drive

01Ino-chō Paper Museum (paper-making experience)90 minutes

A museum that exhibits the history, ingredients, and tools related to Tosa washi paper. It also offers paper-making workshops in which visitors can make paper in about an hour and bring their own dried original washi paper home with them.

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About a 10-minute drive

02Home of YOSHII Genta (YOSHII Genta-ō Seika)20 minutes

YOSHII Genta lived during the same period as another great figure of Tosa, Sakamoto Ryōma. YOSHII improved the technology for Tosa washi and led the way for Ino-chō to become a paper-making town. Items YOSHII enjoyed using are displayed in his house, allowing viewers to remember his great accomplishments.

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About a 10-minute drive

03Sugimoto-jinja Shrine20 minutes

Often called Ino-Daikoku-sama, Sugimoto-jinja shrine is believed to bestow blessings of thriving business and to bring happiness, merit, and good fortune to people. The grand festival held every spring and fall is known as one of the three great festivals of Tosa.

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About a 15-minute drive

04Tosa Washi Craft Village QRAUD (lunch)60 minutes

Road station on the bank of Niyodo-gawa river. Visitors can experience making handmade paper and with it, create their own postcards and fans. At the chic restaurant, enjoy lunches made with locally-grown vegetables or just stop in for tea.

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About a 5-minute drive

05Nagoya Chinka-bashi Bridge10 minutes

There are six chinka-bashi, or low-water crossings, over the mainstream of Niyodo-gawa. Of them, the one located furthest downstream is the Nagoya Chinka-bashi bridge. It is not far from Tosa Washi Craft Village QRAUD, so you can walk or bicycle there.

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About a 10-minute drive

06KOCHI ICE-baiten Shop30 minutes

Frozen treats using ingredients unique to Kōchi are made here, including the shop’s most popular item—the citrus sherbet. Its ice cream made with Kōchi-made milk and cream with no added water has garnered many fans.

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About a 15-minute drive

07Road station Michi-no eki 633bi*-no sato (*read “mu-sa-sa-bi”)30 minutes

Road station where you can buy all the fresh vegetables and fruits from Ino-chō Gohoku. Inside the building is Mori-no Chiisana Okashi-ya-san (“small confectionery store in the forest”) that sells various homemade sweets made fresh every day, including seasonal cakes and sweet potato and pumpkin pies.

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About a 10-minute drive

08Gohoku Musasabi-onsen Hot Springs60 minutes

A natural hot spring located by the Niyodo-gawa river. The red madder color water of ferruginous sodium chloride is full of iron and has many beneficial effects including the alleviating of nerve and joint pains. Slowly moving the body in the walking bath is also recommended.

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About a 40-minute drive

09Ino IC

6Travel Back in Time into the Kumayama-Shinkei-Emaki

Matsuyama IC → Iwaya-ji temple (the 45th stop on Shikoku’s 88-temple pilgrimage) → FURUIWAYASŌ Inn → Furuiwa yuhodō promenade → Daihō-ji temple (the 44th stop on Shikoku’s 88-temple pilgrimage) → Kuma Art Museum → Michi-no eki Tenkū no Sato Sansan → Matsuyama IC

The first stop, Iwaya-ji temple, is a sacred mountain site at elevation 700 meters. It features a hall that appears to have been embedded into the side of a giant rock. After having a meal at FURUIWAYASŌ Inn that overlooks the Furuiwaya, a towering, strange-shaped rock, stroll down the Furuiwa yūhodō promenade. At Daihō-ji temple, be awed by the thick growth of many ancient trees. Stopping by Chōritsu Kuma Art Museum where you can see treasured art pieces and road station Michi-no eki Tenkū no Sato Sansan is highly recommended.

Area
Kumakōgen-chō
Best season
year round
Time required
8 hours
StartMatsuyama IC

About a 70-minute drive

01Iwaya-ji Temple (the 45th stop on Shikoku’s 88-temple pilgrimage) seriwari zenjō150 minutes

A mysterious ancient temple that stands in the mountain at elevation 700 meters. Go beyond the steep approach and you will be greeted by a massive rock, the Hondō main hall, and the Daishi-dō hall, an officially designated Important Cultural Property with an eye-catching design. The seriwari zenjō where Kōbō-Daishi conducted his ascetic training is a place where pilgrims climb up splits in the rocks using chains. It is a place for facing danger as part of spiritual training.

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About a 5-minute drive

02FURUIWAYASŌ Inn (lunch)60 minutes

A lodging facility located in front of the scenically beautiful Furuiwaya, a towering, strangely-shaped rock. Guests are welcome to stop by just for a meal at the restaurant which holds “game animal specials” during which tastes unique to this mountain village like boar curry and pizzas are offered. Enjoy the delicious foods while viewing the unusual sight of Furuiwaya that stands beyond the picture window.

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03Furuiwa yuhodō Promenade30 minutes

A walking path that connects Furuiwaya to Fudōson. Furuiwaya is beautiful during the fall foliage, as it is from spring through summer. Fudōson is a place of faith for mountain ascetics, and Fudōmyō-ō is enshrined within the hole in a rock called Daiōketsu.

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About a 15-minute drive

04Daihō-ji Temple (the 44th stop on Shikoku’s 88-temple pilgrimage)30 minutes

As this is exactly at the half-way point of the 88-temple pilgrimage, it is often called nakafuda-jo (“middle temple”). The ancient trees that surround the temple grounds are Japanese cedar and hinoki cypress that are around 800 years old. In the Niō-mon gate are an offering of giant straw sandals that are replaced every 100 years and they watch over the safety of people who travel through.

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About a 5-minute drive

05Chōritsu Kuma Art Museum40 minutes

Built upon receiving a donation of a collection owned by a local businessman from Kumakōgen-chō, this museum was opened in 1989. The art museum within the wooden architecture befitting of a highland town exhibits mainly modern western-style paintings alongside ceramics and sculptures.

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About a 5-minute drive

06Michi-no eki Tenkū no Sato Sansan30 minutes

A road station located in Kumakōgen-chō, a highland town at an elevation of 800 meters. Among the most popular here are the freshly baked bread at Sansan Bakery and the restaurant serving dishes made with lots of local vegetables.

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About a 40-minute drive

07Matsuyama IC