- 3 min read

Vintage Train Car Restaurant

Ready to embark on a voyage of culinary discovery?

On the banks of the Isshite river sits an unexpected, vintage train car. The bikes parked outside and the cheerful, if somewhat peeling, blue and yellow paint alert the traveler that this is no accident site. Wildflowers, plant pots, and hand painted signs adorn the carriage and its supports, creating an intriguing rustic utopia just off the main road.

Denpun is a truly unique dining experience, and one that is little known to those who do not live and work locally. Situated between one of the most impressive locations Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage and a popular onsen complex, this tiny train car is en route for a voyage of culinary and cultural discovery.

Inside the carriage are just three or four tables, each comfortably sectioned off. But aside from the charming exterior of this establishment, the food is the real attraction. Denpun offers satisfying Spanish-influenced meals, which include paella, steak, great speciality desserts. But the best time to visit Denpun is at lunch, when for just ¥1,050, you can be brought a seafood lunch special that includes oysters fried to perfection, crab croquettes, a Mediterranean vegetable medley, corn chowder, crusty bread, and a drink. The crusty bread alone can be a rarity in Japan, but every component of the meal was fresh, flavoursome, piping hot, and served with style.

Spanish food with real personality is found infrequently in Matsuyama – there is also the restaurant chain El Borracho just off Okaido, which focuses on its wine selection and is certainly more convenient, if a little lack-lustre. It is definitely worth going a little out of your way to eat at Denpun. It is accessible via the number 52 bus bound for Okudogo, which you can catch from Matsuyama Shieki or Dogo Station. A trip to Denpun is the perfect complement to a morning at Isshite-ji, also on the number 52 bus route, where an hour or two of exploring the temple complex’s various shrines, underground tunnels, daily Buddhist ceremonies and exhibits will be sure to work up an appetite.

To make a day of it in the Isshite/Dogo/Yuyama area of Matsuyama, you could continue on your journey on the number 52 to Okudogo onsen, which has recently been renovated and known in the area for having a “jungle” theme - the glasshouses in which their baths are situated are filled with copious fauna and flora. The onsen is also renowned for its “Viking” (all you can eat) buffet. Not quite as distinctive as a vintage train car restaurant, though.

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Kim 4 years ago
This looks so cool!

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