An unhurried castle town, Uwajima draws a steady trickle of titillated travellers to its academically inclined sex museum and attached Shintō fertility shrine. Though most travellers bypass Uwajima en route to Matsuyama, the town makes a pleasant stop and retains some noteworthy traditions, such as pearl farming, terraced agriculture and bloodless bullfighting.
Uchiko is undergoing a mini-renaissance, with a growing number of domestic travellers taking interest in this attractive town with its prosperous past. During the late Edo and early Meiji periods Uchiko boomed as a major producer of wax, resulting in a number of exquisite houses that still stand today along a street called Yōkaichi.
Throughout the centuries, pilgrims from Kyūshū traditionally arrived in Yawatahama by ferry, and then started and ended their pilgrimage at nearby Temple 43 – Meiseki-ji (明石寺). Take the Uwajima Unyu Ferry from Yawatahama to Beppu (¥3100, three hours, six daily) and Usuki (¥2310, 2½ hours, six or seven daily) on Kyūshū.
At 1982m, Ishizuchi-san is the highest peak in western Japan, and was traditionally considered to be a holy mountain. Ishizuchi attracts pilgrims and climbers alike, particularly during the July and August climbing season. During the winter (late December to late March) skiing is possible.