Marinecco is a stylish European-style café and bar on Matsuyama’s chicest street, the Ropeway Gai. An inviting path of wooden decking leads past the small terrace seating area facing the street. Inside, there’s a cozy table by the window where you can espy the passers-by, a few tables overlooking the bar, and a comfy sofa area right at the very back with cushions, under a huge and intricate lampshade. The decor is modern and subdued and the music is typically Delta Blues, which creates a very comfortable environment.
Marinecco makes no secret of its main draw, the Guinness and Kilkenny Irish cream ale on tap. Signs outside and inside proclaim unmistakably that this is a Guinness pub. A pint of Guinness and Kilkenny costs 900 yen, or a much more reasonable 600 yen during the happy ‘hour’ that runs from 5 to 8 pm. But Marinecco is not a one-trick pony by any means. They also serve a selection of very drinkable wines, as well as sake and shochu for those who might tire of long, creamy pints of Irish nutrition.
Plates of skinny fries with a ketchup dip are a good choice to go with the beer or wine, but there comes a point when you need something more substantial. The gourmet pizzas such as gorgonzola and garlic, gorgonzola and raisins, and sun-dried tomatoes and ham are very good indeed, and the aroma of them baking is enough to make the average person drool. The sausages are a heart-stoppingly healthy thickness. There are also simple salads, which accompany the richer offerings very well.
Managing a stylish café and bar requires a certain finesse, and the couple who own Marinecco have it. Invariably dressed in black, the master is a quiet, genial presence. Female friends speculate a little breathlessly that he was probably a boxer at an earlier date. The mistress of the house is a ray of sunshine, bustling about dispensing good cheer and refills of iced water. She’s also prompt to recommend a third or fourth pint of the house specials, and it seems churlish to resist.
Ropeway Gai, named for the cable car that goes up to Matsuyama Castle, offers a wealth of things to see and do, and after some hard sightseeing and shopping, nothing feels more natural than to fall into Marinecco at 5 pm to catch the rising wave of happy hour.
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I was born in Bristol, England, and I came to Japan in 1991 … which means I’ve lived half my life in this island nation on the other side of the world. The theme of my career in Japan has been communication. I started as an English teacher, and moved into translation as I learned Japanese. I worked at a well-known electronics manufacturer, facilitating their multinational communications before I became a freelance translator. As such, I translated a lot of tourism-related information. It was obvious to me that most of this isn’t sufficient to convey the excitement and wonder of Japan. In 2011, I established Knowledge Travel Partners, an inbound tourism consultancy. After living in several regions of Japan, I settled in Ehime where my wife is from. It’s on the southern island of Shikoku facing the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, Japan’s Mediterranean. The pace of life here is slow and peaceful, but we do like to throw a raucous festival now and again.