In Japan, the names for municipalities bear scant resemblance to entities of the same name in the west. So a place that is nominally a ‘city’ can be nothing more than a few small towns surrounded by a large rural area. Thus you can find yourself on a lonely plain with not a single building or person in sight, and yet still be in the middle of a ‘city’. Seiyo City is one such place.
Which is not to say that such cities don’t have their charms. Seiyo is a beautiful place, and its little towns are full of interest. Seiyo has three main areas—a coastal area comprising Akehama and Mikame, the inland mountainous area of Nomura and Shirokawa, and the main urban center Uwa, which is subdivided into upper and lower parts, Kami-Uwa and Shimo-Uwa, with Unomachi in between.
Akehama and Mikame face the Uwa Sea, which is the western inlet of the Seto Inland Sea. The coastline here is heavily indented and the many little bays offer great opportunities for fishing, swimming, snorkeling and camping. Various festivals are held throughout the year, many of which involve jumping or falling in the sea, and fireworks in the evening.
Nomura and Shirokawa are deep in the mountains of Ehime, where the roads wind along the bottom of beautiful wooded river valleys, with little hamlets carved in steps up the lower slopes. The farmhouses, shrines and temples in these areas offer a glimpse into the ‘old Japan’. Shirokawa produces excellent sake, and the person who arranged the celebrated scarecrows along a stretch of road in Shirokawa must have been drinking something interesting. The Doronko Matsuri mud festival in Shirokawa in early July is not to be missed.
The town of Uwa has a fascinating street of old and sensitively restored buildings in Unomachi, with a number of excellent little museums. Fairs and festivals are held on this street throughout the year.
Name in Japanese 西予 — Seiyo