Region
Shikoku
Island
Shikoku
Largest City
Matsuyama
Population
1,493,126

Minetopia Besshi

Become Indiana Jones at Ehime’s best theme park and historical site.

Minetopia Besshi is a unique theme park where you can step inside the world of mining and go beyond the typical sights of Ehime Prefecture.

Big sightseeing in Ehime, one of the four prefectures that make up the island of Shikoku, is that of Matsuyama Castle and Dogo Onsen. While not as famous, Minetopia Besshi, located in northern Ehime, is a theme park that lets you become Indiana Jones for a day by riding along old minecart tracks and exploring the once-lively mining community of Besshi.

Photo by: Dokudami The tiny but scenic train.

It is definitely worth a day trip, especially if you are going with children. The theme park was inspired by one of the largest mines in Ehime, making use of the real tunnels, tracks and buildings that the miners once used. The original mining complex dates back to 1690 when copper deposits were discovered. Because of its unconventional location, the park is not overly busy but still great fun.

The whole place is made to not only educate you but make you feel like you’re really there.

At the main area of the park known as Hadeba, you will be greeted by courteous staff and a welcome center. Around the back of the building is a platform where a miniature steam engine will take you on a wild ride along the old tracks that used to ship copper in and out of the mines. The tracks go through tunnels and along rickety bridges, and then finally stop at the mine shafts.

Photo by: Dokudami A little understated but definitely a park worth visiting!

The end of the tiny train line is the actual mine where people used to extract copper. There are plenty of tunnels to investigate, but be careful not to get lost! Some of the ceilings can be pretty low. Inside the mine shafts, you will find mannequins reenacting the process of mining back in the Edo period. The whole place is made to not only educate you but make you feel like you’re really there, surrounded by the workers as they sweat and toil.

In spring, Tohnaru is covered in sakura.

Once you’ve seen how the real miners used to do it, kids big and small have a chance to recreate the thrill of panning for gold inside the museum’s touch pool filled with sand and unrefined minerals. The best part: anything you find you can take home with you. After a hard day in the mines you can grab something to eat at the local restaurant, Mori no Kaze, or relax in the therapeutic Seiko Onsen also known as “Heaven’s water.”

The ruins at Tohnaru

So far we have only talked about the Hadeba area at the base of Mount Inukeashi, but there is even more to see at the park’s second section called the Tohnaru area.

Photo by: As6673 The ruins from above.

Tohnaru is situated higher in the mountains. Here, you will find long-standing ruins of the ore storage depot from the original Besshi copper mine. Now the structures are completely unrecognizable, looking more like an ancient forgotten city than a mining facility, giving it the nickname the “Machu Picchu of the Orient.” Tohnaru is a 20-minute drive away from the main park but it is recommended that you get the local sightseeing bus because the road up there is quite narrow. The bus tours the whole area in just over two hours, but be aware that the buses do not run from December to February.

Minetopia Besshi is a unique theme park where you can go beyond the typical sights of Ehime.

Topics: , ,

Things To Know

Hours and fees

The amusement park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gold panning activity costs ¥600 for adults and ¥500 for children. If you wish to ride the mining train, you will need to pay ¥500 for adults and ¥300 for children.

How To Get There

Address

707-3 Tatsukawachō, Niihama-shi, Ehime-ken 792-0846, Japan

By train

Take the JR bullet train from Tokyo to Okayama (3 hours and 17 minutes) then get off at the end of the line and take the limited express Shiokaze 27 train all the way to Niihama (1 hour and 46 minutes).

By bus

To get to the Tohnaru area of the park, we recommend you to ride the tour bus (¥1,200).  The bus to Tohnaru, departs at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  

By car

Take Tomei Expressway and Ise Wangan Expressway to Kobe, continue on the Awaji Naruto Expressway and Tokushima Expressway. Once you have reached Nihama city take Prefectural Route 11 and Prefectural Route 47 through the mountains for 20 minutes.

Where To Stay

Super Hotel Niihama
  • Takagicho 3-7 Niihama-Shi, Ehime 792-0031
  • 7.9/10
  • 6.0 km
Powered by Booking.com
Hotel Route-Inn Niihama
  • Kubota 3-2-1 Niihama-Shi, Ehime 792-0026
  • 7.7/10
  • 6.4 km
Powered by Booking.com
Rihga Royal Hotel Niihama
  • Maedacho 6-9 Niihama-Shi, Ehime 792-0007
  • 7.8/10
  • 7.3 km
Powered by Booking.com
Hotel Niihama Hills Prince House
  • Shinsukacho 3-4-26 Niihama-Shi, Ehime 792-0802
  • 6.4/10
  • 8.1 km
Powered by Booking.com