Shikoku is an island located in eastern Japan. It is the smallest among the 4 main islands of Japan. Only 4 prefectures make up Shikoku Island - Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi and Tokushima. Although there are no bullet trains running in Shikoku, the regular Japan Railway tracks are available on the island. The domestic airport there allows access from other airports in Japan, both domestic and international, such as Osaka and Nagoya. Travelling via car may be more convenient. It is an island filled with great natural landscapes and food, and here are 10 activities that you should try when in Shikoku:
1. The udon noodle of Kagawa Prefecture
Kagawa Prefecture is sometimes called the udon prefecture - that is how much the udon noodles play a part in the daily lives of those from Kagawa. In fact, it is said that they rank number one in Japan for the amount of udon noodles consumed per person. Udon noodles are thick noodles made from wheat flour, unlike the thinner ramen noodles that you can also enjoy in Japan. Kagawa is famous for being the origin of the sanuki udon and among the numerous shops there is one called Yamagoe Udon. The harmony between the delicious and chewy udon noodles and the egg based soup is fantastic!
Address: Address: 602-2 Hayukakami, Ayauta-gun, Ayagawa-cho 761-2207, Kagawa Prefecture
Access info: 40-minute drive from Takamatsu Station (Kagawa Prefecture)
Opening hours: 9:00 - 13:30
Fixed holiday: Sundays
Contact: +81 87-878-0420
2. The fantastic view of Kankakei Gorge
Kankakei is a gorge found on Shodo Island, Kagawa Prefecture. It is part of the Setonaikai National Park and is famous for the amazing maple tree landscape that can be enjoyed during autumn. Not only will you get an amazing and vast view of the surrounding mountains from the observatory that can be accessed via the Kankakei ropeway, you will also get to appreciate the Seto Inland Sea. Shodo Island can be accessed by ferries departing from various ports on Shikoku Island, so do check it out!
Address: Kankakedori, Shozu-gun, Shodoshima-cho, Kagawa Prefecture
Access info: 5-minute ropeway ride
Opening hours: Depends on season (please refer to website)
Fixed holiday: nil
Contact: +81 879-82-2171
Entrance fee: 1,350 JPY (12.30 USD) (two-way)
Hotel Iya Onsen is located in Tokushima Prefecture. Iya Onsen is a fantastic natural hot spring with a history of over 50 years and Hotel Iya Onsen is most-known for its marvellous open-air bath. You can enjoy the great onsen while admiring the splendid nature that surrounds you. To access the open air onsen from Hotel Iya Onsen, you will get to operate a cable car for a 5-minute ride down the valley – it’s very simple, all you have to do is press a button!
4. Exciting walk over the Kazura Bridge
Kazura Bridge is found in Iya, Tokushima Prefecture. It is one of the Three Unusual Bridges in Japan and is a suspension bridge made from mainly arrowroot. The 45-metre-long (148-foot-long) bridge has no support in the middle because it is a suspension bridge, and the thrilling walk across it is perfect for adventure lovers!
Iya Kazura Bridge
Address: Zentoku 162-2, Nishi-Iyayamamura, Miyoshi City
Access info: Shikoku Kotsu Bus from JR Ooboke Station bound for either Kazura Bashi or Kubo. Alight at Kazura Bashi Bus stop and walk for 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Fixed holiday: nil
Contact: +81 883-72-7620
Entrance fee: 550 JPY (5 USD)
5. Machu Picchu in Japan? Besshi Copper Mine
Located in Ehime Prefecture, the Besshi Copper Mine used to be one of the greatest copper mines in the world for over 400 years, with a total of over 700 kilometres (435 miles) being excavated. There were about 10,000 people staying in the village then, with schools and hospitals too. However as the industry started to decline, the village fell and it is today a beautiful historical artefact – much like Machu Picchu. Minetopia Besshi is a theme park built at Besshi Copper Mine based on the old copper mine. The ancient buildings can now be viewed where you can learn about the place’s history, as well as trying out some mining experience.
Address: 707-3 Tatsukawacho, Niihama, Ehime Prefecture
Access info: 20-minute bus ride from Niihama station
Opening hours: Depends on season, please check official website
Fixed holiday: nil
Contact: +81 897-43-1801
Entrance fee: 1,200 JPY (10.90 USD)
6. Dogo Onsen: over 1,000 years of history
Dogo Onsen is one of the oldest onsens in Japan and is located in Ehime Prefecture. At the Dogo Onsen Main Building, there are a total of three storeys and various onsens available for you to enjoy. Furthermore, a café is located within the building where you can taste delicious Japanese snacks and tea. The streets around Dogo Onsen are also filled with shops and arcades, as well as Dogo Park, so you’ll definitely have plenty of activities to do there!
Dogo Onsen Main Building
Address: 6-8 Dogoyunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture
Access info: 4-minute walk from Dogo Onsen Station
Opening hours: 6:00 - 23:00 (last admission 22:30)
Fixed holiday: nil
Contact: +81 89-943-8342
Entrance fee: 410 JPY (3.70 USD) to 1,500 JPY (13.70 USD) depending on the class of onsen
7. Kochi’s famous red fish sashimi
Kochi is famous for the bonito (a type of fish) cuisine, and it may be served as sashimi or grilled. One of the most famous dishes is the katsuo tataki (lightly seared bonito) and among the various shops in Kochi that serves it is Myojinmaru. There are numerous Myojinmaru shops in Kochi that serve delectable and sweet bonito that is sure to get you addicted!
Address: 1-1-2 Motomachi | Yachiyo Bldg 1F, Kochi 780-0870, Kochi Prefecture
Access info: 1-minute walk from Horizume Tram Station
Opening hours: 17:00 - 23:00
Fixed holiday: nil
Contact: +81 88-820-6505
8. The amazing Shimanto River
Shimanto River is a 196-kilometre-long (123-mile-long) river that flows in Kochi Prefecture. There are various adventures that you can experience along the river, such as canoeing and camping, available at Village Kawarakko. If you prefer to admire the beauty of the Shimanto River rather than participate in activities, you can consider boarding the Japan Railway Yodo Line too. It travels along the Shimanto River and you can enjoy the natural landscape all from the train window!
Village Kawarakko (Canoeing and Camping Centre)
Address: 24, Tadenokawa, Shimanto-shi, Kochi
Access info: 2 hours and 30 minutes from Kochi City by car
Opening hours: 8:00 - 18:00 (Camp Site)
Fixed holiday: 29 December to 3 January / Mondays from 1 October to 30 June
Contact: +81 880-31-8400 or [email protected]
Entrance fee: nil, but it costs for each activity.
9. Ashizuri Thermae: fantastic onsen and French food!
Ashizuri Thermae is a resort hotel found in the southern-end of Kochi Prefecture. With a history of over 15 years, the resort hotel has a beautiful white-based exterior that exudes a sense of luxury. Ashizuri Thermae comes with an open-air onsen and a sauna, and its natural hot spring is said to have good effects on the skin. Ashizuri Thermae is also known for its amazing French cuisine at the restaurant Le Mariage, which serves delectable dishes made from Shikoku’s local ingredients.
Address:1433-3 Ashizurimisaki, Tosashimizu, Kochi Prefecture
Access: 3-hour drive from Kochi city
Contact: +81 787-0315
10. The beautiful blue of Niyodo River
Niyodo River is a 124-kilometre-long (77-mile-long) river that flows from Ehime Prefecture to Kochi Prefecture. Unlike the adventure-filled Shimanto River, Niyodo River is surrounded by beautiful landscapes that promises to captivate. In fact, the water is so clear that, in 2010 and 2012, it was rated as the cleanest and purest river among all major rivers in Japan! The serene atmosphere there will surely wash all your stress away.
*Address (Niyodo River Community Tourism Council) *: 145 Daikokucho, Ino, Agawa-gun, Kochi, Japan
Access info: Depends on which part of the river you are visiting (please refer to official website)
*Contact (Niyodo River Community Tourism Council) *: +81 88-893-0733
Appreciating Shikoku’s history and nature
The various landscapes and food that can be found in Shikoku will create an extremely memorable experience, albeit some being relatively inconvenient. It is recommended that you drive if you want to explore the hidden natures in Shikoku. The major cities, however, can be accessed via train. Shikoku is also near other tourist areas, such as Hiroshima, and with sceneries that can only be enjoyed in Shikoku, the travelling will definitely pay-off!
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