Matsuyama’s two covered arcades run like a thick vein through the center of the city. Gintengai starts at the square in front of Matsuyama City railway station (Shieki) and runs parallel to Chifunemachi Dori. Then it takes a sharp left to emerge onto Chifunemachi. When you get to the end of Gintengai and cross Chifunemachi Dori, you find yourself at the entrance to yet another arcade, the different yet equally appealing Okaido, the Big Street. Rendered in English, 'Gintengai' means roughly 'Street of Silvery Heaven'.
In the summer from around June 23 to August 4, a street market is held all along both arcades every Saturday. The event starts at 13:00 and goes on until 21:00 in the evening. This is the Doyo-yoichi or Saturday Night Market.
From the afternoon, stalls are set up in the arcade. Some belong to the shops and restaurants lining the arcade, and they offer their usual goods at sale prices. Businesses from the countryside around Matsuyama also have stalls offering anything from woodcrafts to fruit juice. There are also stalls with fairground-style entertainments for children, with prizes like goldfish and exotic rhinoceros beetles. Food stalls sell all the Japanese festival favourites such as yakisoba fried noodles, okonomiyaki pancakes, and takoyaki octopus balls. Matsuyama has a small and vibrant foreign community too, and so you can also get a bowl of Nepalese curry with nan bread, or an excellent German sausage with pilsner to go with it.
Besides the stalls, there are entertainments including bands and a fairly amusing haunted house. But one of the main draws is the crowds themselves. People in Ehime like to put on traditional clothing for festivals. The women appear dressed in bright, flowery yukata belted high below the bust, while the men wear darker colors belted low above the hips. There’s much clacking of wooden sandals and fluttering of fans.
Since the Doyo-yoichi is held every Saturday, it’s hard to miss it in summer. It’s a great way for visitors to see how the citizens of a provincial town keep themselves entertained. And when the market closes, you’re ideally placed to visit one of the millions of bars located just off the arcades.
Name in Japanese: 土曜夜市 dōyō yoru-ichi