I decided to come to Matsuyama because of Dogo Onsen. Not because it is Japan’s oldest onsen but it is said to have served as the inspiration for Miyazaki’s famous animated film “Spirited Away”.

Dogo Onsen is a wooden public bathhouse dating from 1894. There are other amenities around the bathhouse. Ryokans and hotels nearby will provide yukata and wooden slippers for you to wear to the bathhouse. After a hot bath, you can walk around the shopping arcade, have a Dogo beer at the Dogo brewery. Take a stroll at the nearby Dogo park and visit the temples and shrines nearby.  Take a tram at the Dogo Onsen Station which was built in 1895. Wow, seems so much to do there.

Dogo Onsen. Photo credit: Kenneth Boey
Does it resemble the Bathhouse in “Spirited Away”? Photo Credit: Kenneth Boey

Well, planning is one, the actual execution of the plan is another, I’ve learned through years of traveling.

The day when we did the Shimanami cycling course, I had visualized a relaxing hot bath at Dogo Onsen to soothe my tired legs after a long day of cycling. However, we only reached Imabari at about 6pm. The next bus bound for Dogo Onsen is at 710pm. So by the time we reached Dogo Onsen, it was already 8+pm.  The last entry for the bath with lounge access is at 9pm. So, well I thought we can go in the early morning right? It opens at 6am! Too tired to even wake up early the next day and it was raining heavily ~~~ so… In the end, I said goodbye to Dogo Onsen without visiting the bathhouse despite staying at a hotel right next to it.

However, we had a nice dinner at Dogo Brewery Resturant. We had a beer flight of 4 different types of Dogo craft beers and some really good beer snacks like fried chicken skin, fried shishamo, etc. Yummy. Perfect meal after a great workout and to end the day.