By Rod Walters
The northern half of Ehime faces the Seto Inland Sea, a beautiful body of water dotted with islands. The eastern half borders the sea known as Uwakai, which merges with the Pacific Ocean. While the coastline of Ehime is generally rocky, there are many bays and inlets where a rough sand of ground seashells accumulates. These beaches can be found within the boundaries of all the coastal cities, many of them within easy walking distance of railway stations. Needless to say, they’re very popular with citizens on weekends during the hot months, and so weekends are a good opportunity to meet local people when they’re letting their hair down. But on weekdays, travelers can pretty much enjoy these beaches to themselves.
Most people start going to the beach from the end of July, which generally coincides with the end of the rainy season. At this time, the heavy rainfall of the monsoon carries soil and plant matter down from the mountains, strewing the beaches with twigs and making the water of the Inland Sea generally cloudy. Once the rainy season ends, conditions improve quickly.
Monchichi Kaigan Beach is my favourite of these beaches. It sits at the estuary of the little Tateiwa River in Hojo, just north of the picturesque island of Kashima. When the tide comes in, the beach all but disappears, and the sea comes up to the seawall and swells the mouth of the river. But at low tide, a fairly large beach is revealed, and both the river and sea become one big playground. In the middle of the beach, there’s always a small pool that’s full of crabs and fish, some of which are surprisingly big. This makes a very good place for kids to play. The seabed is very shallow for a long way out, so there’s no danger that children will suddenly get out of their depth, although caution is needed where the river actually enters the sea.
Behind the seawall is a small concrete building with toilets and showers, and there’s a drinking fountain too. There’s also a shady area with grass and trees where you can camp. Monchichi Kaigan beach is a very popular place for barbecues, and the large Marunaka supermarket a short way up the river is a good place to buy the wherewithal for beach feasting and drinking. There are also restaurants and ice cream stands nearby.
Name in Japanese: モンチッチ海岸 monchichi kaigan
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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.