Surveying the town of Matsuyama on Shikoku’s north coast is one of the country’s largest and best preserved medieval citadels. The hilltop complex dates from the early 16th century, and ranks among the most compelling of its kind in Japan. Climb the flight of stone steps or jump in a cable car to reach its fortified main gate. It’s well worth allowing time for the little museum in the keep, where visitors can dress up in authentic samurai costume.
The town also holds one of the country’s most famous bath houses, the thousand-year-old ‘Dogo Onsen’. Matsuyama’s other, rather less imposing, claim to fame is that it is Japan’s ‘Custard Tart Capital’ – a legacy of the city’s trade links with Portuguese merchants. Local variations feature delicious Shikoku chestnut or red bean paste.