TOPICS July 2023

To Attract Inbound Tourists to Matsuyama

In an effort to attract inbound tourists to Matsuyama, the city and JR Shikoku conducted a three-day test tour from June 16, inviting Taiwanese travel agencies. Representatives from 10 companies from Taiwan participated. On the first day, they strolled around the Mitsuhama area and rode the free municipal ferry, Mitsu-no-Watashi. They were interested that a boat is used instead of a road or bridge. They said they were considering travel plans that incorporate sightseeing trains such as “Iyo Nada Monogatari” and Iyo Railway’s Botchan Train. The test tour was carried out for the first time as part of a tourist promotion partnership agreement signed by Matsuyama City and JR Shikoku in March. It is aiming to lure tourists to Matsuyama during the Osaka-Kansai Expo in 2025. On the second day, they rode the Iyonada Monogatari and visited the main building of Dogo Onsen and its annex, Asukanoyu. On the last day, they visited Matsuyama Castle. (June 17, Ehime Shimbun)

Calligraphy Performance Koshien

On June 14, the 16th National High School Calligraphy Performance Championship executive committee announced the 21 schools who will participate in the final competition of the Calligraphy Performance Koshien, which will be held in Shikokuchuo City, eastern Ehime, in July. Two schools are from Ehime prefecture; Mishima High, which ranked first in the performance category last year, the other is Matsuyama Higashi High, which reached the third finals for the first time in nine competitions. At Matsuyama Higashi High School nine members of the calligraphy club watched the live broadcast, and when the name of the school was announced, there were shouts of joy, and some members burst into tears. At Mishima High School the club members were watching the broadcast of the announcement, and quickly braced themselves, saying they will aim only for the championship. 107 schools from 31 prefectures applied for the preliminary round in seven regional blocks across the country. Calligraphers and directors judged eight criteria, including the beauty of the calligraphy and the composition of the performance. This event will be held in for the first time in four years. The finals will be held on July 23 at the Iyo Mishima Sports Park Gymnasium. (June 15, Ehime Shimbun)

Matsuyama City To Provide Free Health Care To Children Up To 18 Years Old

Matsuyama City, which has been considering expanding the age range for free health care for children, announced on June 2nd that it would extend the eligible age to 18 years old starting in December, as a measure to reduce the economic burden on households raising children. The city has allocated 89.67 million yen in the general account supplementary budget to be submitted to the regular council meeting in June.

The city has been providing free health care since January 2020 for children up to and including those attending junior high school. According to the city’s childcare support services, about 12,000 children will be newly eligible. In preparation for the December start, the city will proceed with the acceptance of applications from eligible families, system updates, issuance of beneficiary certificates, and coordination with medical institutions. The estimated annual cost of expanding the coverage is approximately 350 million yen. (June 2, Ehime Shimbun Online digest)

Whiskey Made from Ehime Naked Barley Ready for Sale in Three Years

A craft whiskey made from naked (hulless) barley grown in Ehime, the largest producer in Japan, was created by Junichi Odani (65), owner of a local liquor store, with the cooperation of producers and bartenders in the prefecture. On June 4th, a tasting was held in front of Ozu Castle in Ozu city, where people from both inside and outside the city enjoyed the taste of the new whiskey.

As a solution to the tough competition in the retail liquor industry, Odani sought to develop original products and focused on naked barley. At the beginning of last year, he asked Hidenori Maki (71), president of J-Wing Farm, a rice and barley farming company in Toon City, to supply the naked barley. Maki agreed, declaring, “It’s a dream project.” Hironori Takahashi (48), who runs a bar in Matsuyama and has expertise in whiskey, also joined their project.

The distillation method was jointly developed with a distillery in Niigata Prefecture. Distillation was completed in January this year, and two 200-liter barrels are currently being transported to Ozu City, where the whiskey will age for three years in preparation for sales.

The tasting was attended by 14 people, including Ehime Governor Tokihiro Nakamura, Ozu Mayor Takahisa Ninomiya, and local business and industry people, who savored the aroma and enjoyed the taste. Governor Nakamura said, “I look forward to a distillery being built here and the establishment of the brand.” (June 4, Ehime Shimbun Online digest)

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