Spa Diary: Hidden Foot Baths in Matsuyama, Japan
As far as onsens go, Matsuyama is, of course, best known for Dogo Onsen. One of the oldest bath houses in Japan, it remains a popular destination and popular draw in Ehime. It's beautiful architecture inspired the design of the main building in the animated film Spirited Away.
In addition to the many onsens of Dogo, what may be less known are the handful of Ashiyu, or foot baths, scattered throughout the Dogo area. Some are in very public spaces like the Botchan clock near the Dogo train station, while others are tucked away in seemingly private gardens. They are all free to use and are especially enjoyable on a cool, Winter or Spring day. Yamatoya's Ashiyu (just next to Dogo onsen) has a menu from which you can order ice cream or beer to enjoy while you soak your feet and legs.
Smaller Ashiyu, like that at Funaya, are much smaller and intimate. About eight people can enjoy a quieter experience surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden.
If you make it to Dogo, make a point of winding down with a drink while treating your feet to the coveted natural hot springs that many flock to the area to experience.