Shikoku

At a glance

"Shikoku", which literally means "four countries", consists of four prefectures. Shikoku is an island located south of Honshu (the main island of Japan) and east of Kyushu, surrounded by two seas (Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean). Lesser-visited by tourists, Shikoku offers unspoiled coastline and countryside, local tradition and culture that would be hard to find in bigger cities. Travelers from Japan's main island Honshu to Shikoku can either take JR trains from Okayama (crossing the sea Seto-Ohashi Bridge), buses, ferries and flights.


Highlights

Uchiko

Uchiko is a small charming village that retains old-town atomosphere. Uchiko once thrived as a main producing town of Japanese wax, which left wealthy merchant in Uchiko. You can walk through a beautiful path lined with old merchant houses, as well as nicely restored traditional Kabuki theater.


Dogo onsen (Dogo hot spring area)

Dogo hot spring is the oldest hot spring in Japan, and its histroy dates back to 8th century according to the oldest Chronicles of Japan. It is said that its main building was one of the models for the Japanese style ryokan in the famous cartoon movie "Spirited away". Here, you can enjoy very authentic and traditional Japanese hot spring bathing, where local people come and take a bath together in shared baths daily.


Shimanami Kaido

Shimanami Kaido is a 60-kilometer bridge-and-island toll road that connects mainland Japan (Honshu) to the island of Shikoku through 10 bridges and 6 small islands. Along with an express way runs a cycling and walking route. You can cross the sea from Honshu to Shikoku by your own feet. As well as beautiful scenery of Seto Inland Sea, six distinctive islands will welcome you with flowers, citruses, and seafood. One of these six islands was a home of Suigun, old private navy often appeared in Japanese history.


Ritsurin Koen (in Takamatsu)

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Ritsurin Koen (Ritsurin Garden) is a beautiful garden full of Japanese aesthetics. Utilizing mountain Shiun-zan as a backdrop (shakkei technique), Ritsurin Garden features six ponds, thirteen artificial hills, and waterfalls, a tea house and more. In addition to ever-green pine trees beautifully maintained through the garden, various different plants make four seasons equally graceful. It takes about 2 hours to stroll around the garden, the largest one among the National Special Scenic Beauty gardens.


The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum

Isamu Noguchi is one of the most internationally-renowned Japanese-American artists and sculptors. You can see many of his works on exhibit at museums or gardens. This museum was the studio where he was working on his creations. Embodying his wish to inspire artists, the musuem retains working studio's atmosphere. The collections include 150 sculptures, many of which are unfinished.

*The museum opens three days a week. You need to make a prior reservation.


Seto Ohashi bridge

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Seto Ohashi bridge is a double deck bridge which connects Honshu and Shikoku. The upper level of the bridge is for the expressway and the lower level is for railway. This bridge stretches for more than 12 km long and it is the longest double deck bridge in the world.


UDON Noodle

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Though Udon is available throughout Japan, Kagawa prefecture is the most famous place for Udon (Sanuki-Udon). Sanuki Udon is characterized by firm and chewy texture in a delicately flavored broth.


Kotohira

Kotohira-gu, commonly known as Kompira-san, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the guardian of marine transportation. Standing on a steep hill, you need to climb 785 steps to the main shrine and another 583 (total of 1,368) steps to the inner shrine. Despite its strenuous approach, more than 4 million pilgrims visit the shrine, making this the most famous shrine in Shikoku Island.


Naruto

Naruto city is famous for its seawater whirlpools. The whirlpools arise due to small width of Naruto channel, connecting Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and its rapid tidal stream. You can watch these whirlpools from a boat or an observatory located in a bridge beam.

*Whether you can see the whirlpools depends on various conditions such as tidal stream and weather. It is most likely to be seen from the end of March to the end of April.


Iya Valley

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The Iya Valley is nestled along the downstream of Iya River, which is the tributary of Yoshino River, the largest river in Shikoku. A heavily-wooded forest and precipitous gorge provided the Iya Valley with a hideout for defeated warriors in the history. Crossing famous vine bridges suspended over Iya Valley, such as Iya Kazurabashi and Oku-Iya Kazurabashi, can be terrifying but breathtaking.


Shimanto River

The Shimanto River is the longest river in Shikoku. Since there are no dams constructed along the watershed, this river is acclaimed to be the last pristine river in Japan. Shimanto River runs in meandering stream at a slow pace. People enjoy canoeing and houseboat, viewing greenery and white sand along the river.


Naoshima

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Naoshima is an island in Seto Inland Sea filled with contemporary art museums and sculptures. Enjoy exploring Chichu Art Museum, Benesse House, and Art House Project. Stay for one night at Benesse House designed by the world-renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, which offers a breathtaking convergence of art, architecture and scenic beauty of Seto Inland Sea.


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