Ehime Prefecture is located on the northwestern corner of Shikoku, facing Hiroshima Prefecture across the Seto Inland Sea, and Kyushu across a strip of sea called Uwakai. It can be reached from Honshu by road via the Shimanami Kaido, by ferry from Hiroshima, and by air. There are also ferry links to Kyushu.
As part of the Ohenro Shikoku Pilgrimage, Ehime is the third prefecture that pilgrims visit. Each of the prefectures has been assigned a symbolic phase — Ehime represents the idea of Attaining Enlightenment.
The industry of Ehime has long been based on agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Related industries are pottery, tiles, paper, textiles, pearls and shipbuilding. Ehime vies with Wakayama Prefecture as Japan’s top producer of mikan citrus fruit. In early summer, every part of Ehime is redolent of the slightly acerbic, soapy scent of citrus flowers.
Ehime is home to a number of distinctive Shinto festivals. The southern part of Ehime has a traditional interest in bulls. Bull ‘sumo’ is held in Uwajima, and there’s also a festival celebrating ushioni ‘bull devils’. Seiyo has a mud festival involving the bulls once used for plowing rice fields. In Matsuyama and Saijo, people dress up in koikuchi, a kind of motley pajama outfit, and enjoy running huge festival juggernauts up and down the streets and into rivers. They also take huge omikoshi ‘god boxes’ and smash them together, or throw them down the steps of Shinto shrines. Ehime has an active sake brewing industry, which is constantly developing innovative products using local strains of rice.
The prefecture bills itself as the Cycling Paradise, with routes and facilities provided to welcome bicycle lovers from around the world.