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Part of Matsuyama with the atmosphere of a seaside town

Although the district of Baishinji is part of Matsuyama, it lies facing the Seto Inland Sea separated from the rest of the city by a ridge of hills. Consequently, it has something of the atmosphere of a seaside village. Its one tall building, a blue one in fact, looks as though it might be happier in central Matsuyama with others of its kind.

Baishinji is served by the Iyotetsu Takahama line, which ends its run along the sea coast facing Gogoshima island. When you come out of the station, on your left is Baishinji Park. Entry costs 50 yen. The park is full of flowering trees including ornamental cherry, camellias and magnolia. Visitors flock here to enjoy the cherry blossom in spring. There’s also a beautifully preserved Botchan Ressha steam engine in the park.

The name ‘Baishinji’ means ‘temple of the port of plum trees’, and a temple of the same name can be found near the station, founded in 1700. It was given the name by a Chinese priest who was reminded of his home in China which had the same name. Baishinji came to be applied to the area around the temple.

The beach at Baishinji is very popular in summer, although the views of the coastal industrial complex to the south may not appeal to everyone. The water is fairly clear and there are a range of facilities for bathers. This is a good place for young people to meet one another. Baishinji also has a wedding hall, and one hears of people meeting on Baishinji beach and getting married there too, although not immediately, in their swimwear. Built right on the beach is Buena Vista, a café and eatery where you can eat, drink and enjoy live music facing the sea. There are always ships of various types plying the Inland Sea, and Baishinji is a good place to see them.

One feature of Baishinji that isn’t immediately obvious is the memorial to the Akiyama brothers, which consists of two bronze statues. To see these, you have to walk up a couple of small hills. The statues stand on separate knolls, with Yoshifuru, the senior brother lower down. Each stands next to a cherry tree which wreaths it in blossoms in early April.

Baishinji is also home to Ehime FC, not currently one of Japan’s strongest football teams. However they make up for what they lack in goal-scoring ability with their vulgar, drooling, orange-themed mascots. You can watch the team training on their ground next to Baishinji Park.

A good breeze blows here at most times of the year and it can become a bit of a gale in winter. Nevertheless, Baishinji is a pleasant place to visit at any time of the year, whether for a swim in summer, or a stroll around the beach and the sights all year round.

There used to a rickety little amusement park at Baishinji, but this has been completely removed, although the park enjoys a posthumous existence on YouTube.

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