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 D?go Onsen to the east and a port somewhat farther to the west at Mitsuhama providing a link to the Japanese mainland (Honsh?) and Ky?sh?.
D?go Onsen was already famous in the Asuka period, as Shotoku 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 , Taisan-ji , and J?do-ji, all dating back to the 8th century, although the oldest surviving buildings are from the early 14th century, as well as H?gon-ji, Taih?-ji and Enmy?-ji. Famous shrines of the city include Isaniwa Jinja , 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 Chod?, whose K?shin-an was visited by Kobayashi Issa, Shiki's followers, Takahama Kyoshi and Kawahigashi Hekigoto, and Taneda Sant?ka. 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 S?seki 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 streetcar route), and Botchan dango.
Matsuyama also figures in several works by Shiba