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Saijō

Saijō is a city with abundant natural springs, fed by the meltwater of snowy Mt. Ishizuchi.

Saijō

The city of Saijō sits on a plain facing the Seto Inland Sea, with the imposing Mt. Ishizuchi behind it. Saijō is sandwiched between Imabari and Niihama along the coast of the Inland Sea. Like its neighbour Imabari, Saijō is basically an industrial city that has experienced hollowing out recently, and although there are some fine new buildings, others are in need of attention.

Saijo_snowy_Ishizuchi

The main area of Saijō is known for its natural spring water, and indeed, the city declares itself to be the “Spring Water Capital of Japan”, for good reason. Water from the Kamo River permeates into the surrounding land and bubbles up in numerous places throughout the city at sites called uchinuki. Local people bottle this pure water for drinking and watering their plants. Coca Cola and Asahi Breweries both have factories in the city to make use of this abundant resource. Saijō is also renowned for its sake, and you can visit several breweries in the area.

Saijo_sake_brewery_Seiryo

In the central area of Saijō, there’s a beautiful watercourse filled with fish and water plants, with walks beside it and on raised walkways. From here you can see the mountains with their white peaks in winter, and it’s this snow that supplies the water.

Saijo_Library

The moated fort of the lord of the feudal domain of Saijō built in 1640 is another interesting sight and a place to enjoy the abundant water of the city.

Saijō is home to five of the temples that make up the 88 temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. They are No. 60 Yokomine-ji, No. 61 Kōon-ji, No. 62 Hōju-ji, No. 63 Kichijō-ji, and No. 64 Maegami-ji. Pilgrims can be seen wending their way through Saijō in their white garments and cone hats.

In the middle of October, one of the liveliest festivals in Shikoku is held in Saijō. Over 80 danjiri, a kind of festival juggernaut, are paraded through the city, gathering on the banks of, and in, the Kamo River. At dusk, with their myriad lanterns, the danjiri present a fantastic spectacle in the river.

Saijo_Railway_museum

Saijō is the starting point for the Ishizuchi Tozan Ropeway, a cable car that climbs Mount Ishizuchi, the highest mountain in western Japan at 1,982 metres.

Right next to Iyo-Saijō station on the JR Yosan Line is the Railway History Park, dedicated to Shinji Sōzō, once Mayor of Saijō and father of the shinkansen or bullet train. The museum features a real shinkansen engine. You can sit in the driver’s seat and push the lever right up to 10 on the dial.

In Saijō, you can park free next to the tourist office and rent bicycles.

Information

Name in Japanese: 西条市

Pronunciation: saijō shi

Address: Saijo, Ehime

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