I went on a trip to Shikoku recently and traveled around its 4 Prefectures of Kagawa-ken, Ehime-ken, Kochi-ken and Tokushima-ken. It was my first time to Shikoku and after being there just a few days I felt like I had traveled out of Japan, somewhere overseas.
I have detailed photos of all the places I visited, but to give a sense of the travel route and a quick overview of where I went in Shikoku, here is a summary post of the trip.
The Google Map below shows the route I took with some of the locations along the way. I started at Tokyo Station taking the Shinkansen to Okyama and then caught a train across the Seto Ohashi Bridge to Takamatsu. Later I rented a car and ended up driving it all the way to Kobe where I returned it before boarding the Shinkansen back to Tokyo. The trip started on a Tuesday morning and I came back on Sunday night.
View Shikoku Trip in a larger map
Taking the train from Tokyo Station I arrived at Okayama Station, where I changed to the Marine Liner train to head for Takamatsu in Shikoku on the other side of the Seto Naikai.
Before crossing the bridge to Shikoku, I stopped of at Kojima for some lunch and also to visit the lookout at Washuzan for a view of the Seto Ohashi Bridge.
Kojima is a well known town in Japan. They regularly hold speed boat racing here and so when an event is shown on TV they get good publicity.
Washuzan is about a 5-10 minute taxi or bus ride from Kojima Station. The view from the lookout at Washuzan was fantastic. You can see more of these photos here.
Going back to Kojima Station, I caught the Marine Liner again to cross the bridge and travel to Takamatsu.
After getting a bit of a rest, I ventured out for a meal in Takamatsu. The town looked really easy to find your way around and the arcades were lively with lots of people around and plenty of restaurants to choose from.
Dinner was a treat with plenty of choice. Here are a few places I saw in the arcade.
The weather was good and I decided to visit Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu before catching the train that runs along the coast to Matsuyama.
The JR train arrives at Matsuyama Station where you change to a tram for Dogo Onsen.
The Dogo Onsen was featured by Natsume Soseki in his book “Botchan” and the Dogo Onsen is known by many as Botchan Onsen. It has a great atmosphere to it and is definitely worth a visit. You can get a tour of the Onsen with its separate resting rooms and The Emperors Onsen Bath. More photos of this coming up in a later post.
It rained during the evening of Day 2 and I was glad to retire to the hotel nearby. It was raining when I woke up in the morning so I decided to rent a car and drive to Kochi to see the birthplace of Sakamoto Ryoma at Katsurahama.
I passed through the town of Tobe on the way, which is famous for its pottery.
After leaving Tobe I took the Route 33 going past the Niyodogawa River heading towards Katsurahama in Kochi. It was raining fairly heavy during the drive so I didn’t get to see the best of the Niyodogawa area. It looked quite interesting (mainly viewed from the car traveling at 50kmh) and had a dam in the town which seemed to be the main work focus for people.
Along the way I stopped for some lunch, although it was now about 4pm.
Driving down Route 33 took quite a while in the rain. By the time I got to Katsurahama it was getting dark. I wanted to go and see the statue of Sakamoto Ryoma on the beachead, so I grabbed my umbrella and took a walk in the rain.
Since it was still raining, I decided to make the drive to Tokushima in the evening. The road was a highway and mainly through tunnels, so for 2 hours although it was raining outside I only saw rain for half that time. The rest was in a nice dry tunnel.
On arriving in Tokushima, I put the car away for the night and went to get some Yakitori.
The weather suddenly turned beautiful. After the rain from yesterday it was hard to believe how blue the sky was today. I drove to Naruto and walked under the Naruto Bridge to see the famous whirlpools that form at low and high tide.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical (Otsuka Seiyaku) have an art museum in Naruto which is well worth a visit. The building is literally built into the mountain side (both sides) and contains over 1,000 pieces of art that have been reproduced on ceramic tile board.
The Museum shut at 5pm which was a shame because I still hadn’t seen everything inside. When I came out of the Museum the sun was just starting to set behind the mountains, which made for a few wonderful photos. Lucky timing!
While I was out at Naruto Bridge, a follower on Twitter had suggested I try the California style restaurant, with good pizzas, nearby which has a good view of the mountains and the sunset. I saw an advert for it in the Otsuka International Art Museum as well, so decided to eat there. Unfortunately when I arrived they had a wedding function on so were closed for the day. Heading back into town I suddenly had an appetite for pizza so found a local Italian restaurant which served some great food.
This was my planned day to return to Tokyo, but since the weather was so perfect I decided to drive across Awajishima towards Kobe and then catch the Shinkansen from there, rather than going back to Takamatsu and Okayama.
The drive across Awajishima was easy and relazing. On the way I stopped at Izanagi Jinja, one of the Jinja’s mentioned in Japanese folklore with the story of Izanagi and Izanami and how they created the island of Awajishma through their union and it became the start of Japan.
As I arrived at Izanagi Jinja, I saw a procession of women in costumes and some priests from the Shrine walking towards a rice field. I parked the car and quickly snapped some photos of them harvesting the rice. What luck to be in exactly the right place at the right time.
After a relaxing visit to the Jinja, where the weather kept getting better and better, I drove on towards Kobe. The road went along the coastline and gave a great view. I stopped to take a picture of this sunset along the way.
The bridge crossing from Awajishima to Kobe was like passing through a time portal. The contrasting scenes between grazing farm land of Awajishima to the built up port area of Kobe was amazing. I can only guess the land price difference between the 2 sides of the bridge.
Back in Kobe I returned the car, but being tired spent the night at the hotel near Shin Kobe Station. I took a quick walk out to the local Kitano area and had some dinner at the restaurant high above Kobe looking down on all of the neon lights. It reminded me of how nice a built up city can be, but also made me feel like I had come back from a relaxing overseas destination.
It was raining again, but exploring a bit of Kobe seemed like a good idea before getting on the Shinkansen. The Shin Kobe station always looks amazing as it is strategically places at the foot of the mountain with tunnels on either side, left and right, and then a small canal/drain flowing from the mountain down under the station and along the middle of the road. The water flows roughly the “Kobe” part of the sign under where the bus is parked at the bottom of the photo and then down the street where the trees are.
The Kitano-cho area near the station is a place where many Westerners settled after the Port of Kobe was opened to foreign trade, in the second half of the 19th century. The area is hilly and retains lots of Western charm thanks to the old residential houses, many of which are now cafes, shops or tourist attractions.
Despite a bit of rain, this was a great trip. I felt like I had been overseas whilst in Shikoku. If you have never been before and enjoy a relaxing peaceful trip, then it is worth a visit. There are many other things to see in Shikoku that I didn’t get a chance to visit. Let me know if one of your favorite places was not covered. Maybe next time I will go and visit there too.
I am planning another trip soon, probably to the 3 Prefectures of Toyama-ken, Ishikawa-ken and Fukui-ken. What other areas of Japan would you like me to explore?