DOGO ONSENDōgo Onsen (道後温泉) is Japan's possibly oldest and certainly most famous hot spring, located only a few kilometres from the centre of Matsuyama, in the prefecture of Ehime on the western coast of the island of Shikoku.
A minor source of confusion is that these days "Dogo Onsen" refers not only to the original bath house, but the entire surrounding little town of hot spring hotels and their accompanying restaurants, shopping streets, nightspots, etc.
A streetcar service connects JR Matsuyama station directly to Dogo Onsen.
There's only one thing to do in Dogo Onsen... go bathing!
Dogo Onsen bathhouse
Simple no-frills entry into the Kami-no-Yu (神の湯, "Bath of the Gods")
costs a mere ¥300, but that's all you get, you even have to bring your own
towel and soap. For another ¥320 you're loaned a yukata robe and fed green
tea and a few sembei cookies after your bath. The entrance process for this
second level is a little on the confusing side though: you have to ascend
the stairs and disrobe right there in the relaxation room, in sight of all
the attendants and anybody in the street below who's looking up. But only
down to your underwear -- after putting on your yukata, you go downstairs,
strip away the last vestiges of your dignity, and enter the bath. (There are
coin lockers if you need to store your valuables, at ¥100 a pop.) The bath
isn't particularly spectacular, just two identical giant granite tubs in
separate rooms, more often than not full of Japanese tourists. If you want a
little more space to yourself, try visiting on a weekday afternoon, before
the pre-dinner rush. The process repeats in reverse on the way back, except
that you can lounge about in your yukata for an hour, sip on the tea (free
refills). The relaxation room is on a breezy 2nd-floor balcony, nice and
cool even on a sweltering summer day and with nice views of the yukata-clad
tourists clip-clopping about the streets. The entire place is surprisingly
traditional with few concessions to modernity, eg. not a vending machine in
Should you want to get away from the unwashed masses, you can fork out another ¥360 -- we're up to ¥980 now -- and enter the Tama-no-Yu (玉の湯, "Bath of the Spirits"). Tea and cookies are provided here as well, and you finally get to borrow a [towel] too. And if you cough up yet another ¥300, you can retire to a private room on the 3rd floor for changing and sipping tea for all of one hour and twenty minutes.
Still not satisfied? Then you can book Botchan's Room, named after the protagonist of Natsume Soseki's famed novel of the same name, who used to lounge around the place when off duty (as Soseki did in real life). Prices are negotiable, but presumably not terribly cheap.
And for even more luxury there's the Yushinden (又神殿?), reserved for the use of the Imperial Family and so hallowed that a mere glimpse inside will set you back ¥210.
Nearby Isaniwa Shrine (伊佐邇波神社) is the only other local sight of mild interest.
Eat and Drink
Try the local specialty, Botchan dango, which are tasty little multicolored balls of glutinous mochi rice on a stick.
The Dogo Onsen bathhouse has reasonably priced drinks and snacks in the ¥100 range.