A beautiful costal city...
Imabari is the second largest city in Ehime prefecture. The city has an estimated population of 172,384. you can get to Imabari by JR Shikoku system. The main station on the Yosan line has limited express service. The city is also has a ferry terminal, which acts as a hub for many of the ferry systems that connect to the nearby smaller islands.
Imabari is home to six of the temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, from 54 to 59. These are Enmeiji, Nankobo, Taisanji, Eifukuji, Senyuji, and Kokubunji. A must stop for anyone either doing the Shikoku Pilgrimage or just wanting to see beautiful temples. Make sure to get the official stamp in your stamp book that you can buy at any one of the temples.
For food in Imabari is just as good as anywhere else in Ehime but I recommend visitors to try the ‘yakibuta tamago meshi’, seasoned pork with lightly fried eggs on rice, with a nice sweet, spicy sauce.
Imabari is linked to Hiroshima prefecture by the Shimanami Kaido, a series of bridges linking several of the islands of the Inland Sea
Near the port in Imabari is a huge, beautifully made ship’s propeller displayed as a sculpture. It looks like a giant flower. In front of it are the words “Zo-sen no machi, Imabari” or “Shipbuilding town, Imabari”. This is the theme of the city.
The city has had a huge Towel Museum for many years featuring the design possibilities of towels, and after conducting a branding exercise, these designs are now finding their way into attractive specialist towel shops in the city. Imabari towels can be found all over Japan in towel shops that are licensed to sell them. They’re wonderful, stylish, and very soft. Trust me that when I say you have never felt a towel quit like this.
Imabari is also known for its condiments for meats, many of which are produced at Nihon Shokken’s monstrous baroque factory, an outsize replica of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna. Factory tours and taste testing are available
It took about two years, beginning in 1602, for Imabari Castle (Imabari-jo) to be built by the daimyo Todo Takatora, who governed this region. Todo Takatora has a reputation as an expert on castle-building, and it is believed that Imabari Castle was built on the seashore to make use of the water by adopting the latest technique used in a castle built in Taiwan by the Dutch. The moat surrounding the castle drew in sea water and it was possible to increase and decrease the level of water, using the tide by setting up a flood gate. A five-tiered, six-storied donjon made of ferroconcrete which commands the view of the city and the Inland Sea was reconstructed on the ruins of the castle. The inner moat and stone walls have been designated Historic Sites of the Prefecture.
Imabari Castle is one of the obvious landmarks of the city of Imabari. It’s a very pretty castle, surrounded by a square moat of seawater, one of only three castles in Japan to use the sea to fill a moat. The moat is filled by a channel that runs from the north corner of the moat to the nearby harbor. If you watch the moat for a few minutes, you may well see fish jumping out of the water. It’s worth taking a walking around the moat to see the castle from various angles.
Dating originally from 1604, the castle keep was ordered destroyed in the Meiji period, and the current tower was built in 1980. From the outside, this might not be obvious, but inside, the staircases are all clearly modern. To make up for the lack of authenticity, the castle has some very fine displays of artifacts. These include more than twenty suits of armor of the feudal lords of Imabari, all with fantastic helmets and expressive face-pieces. There are also displays explaining the history of the castle, clothing, weapons, and artworks.
It is worth taking the whole tour around to the various parts of the castle. That way you can better understand and appreciate the history of this fine castle.
The main attraction of any Japanese castle is the view from the top. Imabari Castle offers a stunning view of its own enclosure, surrounded by the moat.
This includes a large Shinto shrine complex with a beautiful green copper roof. Beyond the castle is the commercial district and then the port. In the far distance, you can see the elegant span of the Shimanami Kaido bridge to Hiroshima. The castle is illuminated from dusk to 11:00 pm.
Entry costs 500 yen, a very reasonable price considering the quality of the exhibits.