History and culture
Matsuyama was in medieval times part of the Iyo-Matsuyama Domain, a fiefdom of Iyo Province consisting mainly of a castle town, supporting Matsuyama Castle. There was a nearby village at Dōgo Onsen to the east and a port somewhat farther to the west at Mitsuhama providing a link to the Japanese mainland (Honshū) and Kyūshū.
Dōgo Onsen was already famous in the Asuka period, as Shōtoku Taishi visited the spa in the year 596. It is also mentioned in passing in The Tale of Genji. The site of the former Yuzuki Castle is nearby.
Famous Buddhist temples in Matsuyama include Ishite-ji (石手寺), Taisan-ji (太山寺), and Jōdo-ji (浄土寺), all dating back to the 8th century, although the oldest surviving buildings are from the early 14th century, as well as Hōgon-ji (宝厳寺), Taihō-ji (大宝寺) and Enmyō-ji (円明寺). Famous shrines of the city include Isaniwa Jinja (伊佐爾波神社), built in 1667.
The haiku poet Masaoka Shiki lived in Matsuyama. His house, now known as the
Shiki-do, and a museum, the Shiki Memorial Museum, are popular attractions, and the centerpieces of the city's claim as a center of the international haiku movement. Other famous haiku poets associated with Matsuyama include Kurita Chodō, whose Kōshin-an was visited by Kobayashi Issa, Shiki's followers, Takahama Kyoshi and
Kawahigashi Hekigoto, and Taneda Santōka. Santoka's house, known as Isso-an, is also a tourist attraction and is periodically open to the public. The Matsuyama Declaration of 1999 proposed the formation of International Haiku Research Center, and the first Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards were given in 2000. Recipients have included Yves Bonnefoy (2000), Cor van den Heuvel (2002) and Gary Snyder (2004).
The famed novel Botchan by Natsume Sōseki is set in Matsuyama. As a result, there are numerous sites and locales named after the main character, including Botchan Stadium, the Botchan Ressha (an antique train that runs on the city's tramway), and Botchan dango.
Matsuyama also figures in several works by Shiba Ryōtarō, notably his popular novel, Saka no Ue no Kumo [Clouds Above the Hill] (1969). In anticipation of the upcoming NHK Taiga drama adaptation of Saka no Ue no Kumo, a Saka no Ue no Kumo Museum was established in 2007.
Matsuyama was also the setting of a 1907 novel about the Russo-Japanese War, As the Hague Ordains, by American writer Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore. Matsuyama figures in the novel because the city housed a camp for Russian prisoners during the war. A Russian cemetery commemorates this important episode in Matsuyama history. The Russo-Japanese War is also remembered in Matsuyama because of the contributions of two Japanese military leaders, the Akiyama brothers, Akiyama Saneyuki and Akiyama Yoshifuru, who were born in the city.