Your typical Japanese city has a skyscape dominated by mountains or a hilltop castle. While the city of Matsuyama in Ehime has both of those things, its true up-above gem is a giant carnival ride.
The Kururin Ferris wheel (from kururu, Japanese for “pivot hinge”) sits on top of the Iyotetsu-Takashimaya mall, which in turn lies above the Matsuyama City train station. At 433 feet above sea level, the wheel serves as a handy point of reference for those exploring Matsuyama Castle and other attractions near the city center, especially when it’s lit up at night.
Kururin’s gondola cars come in different designs, some of which are completely see-through. Each car has a laminated guide pointing out (in Japanese) what you can see on your way up, such as the mountainside town of Tobe and the Botchan baseball stadium to the south, the Seto Inland Sea to the west, and mountain ranges in three different directions. At its apex, the ride also puts you level with Matsuyama Castle, the city’s other centerpiece.
Know Before You Go
Those that show a passport can ride for free, however free riders are not privy to the see-through gondolas. Up to four people can ride in a single car. Without a passport, the price is ¥700 for a regular gondola and ¥900 for a see-through one—tickets for either can be purchased in a machine just outside the entrance to the wheel. One revolution takes about 15 minutes and the ride operates from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., with the last riders accepted at 10:45 p.m.
Enter the Iyotetsu-Takashimaya mall from the street or from inside Matsuyama City station and take the elevator up to the 9th floor. Also on the 9th floor is a large collection of gacha machines, some children's rides, and a restaurant.