Ok, so you’ve decided, after a couple of days in Tokyo and Kyoto to come to Shikoku for your Deep Japan Adventure. This is a very excellent, very marvelous decision.
You have seven days.
You’ve decided to come to Shikoku in style. Naturally, you ride the SETO SUNRISE. It’s a great way to see the Seto Inland Sea. You will weep tears of joy as the sun comes up on the water.
Arriving in Takamatsu station in the early morning you have a whole day to spend in Takamatsu, and you didn’t lose time in a hotel overnight. Here are some things that you might want to do:
DAY ONE: Jump on the ferry and spend a day in Naoshima. This is the art island you have heard of. Take in Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkins, and ride all over the place on electric bicycles (no need to overly strain yourself). There are art exhibits, cool little cafes, and beautiful beaches all over, and as you travel make sure to get a map to check out all the linked-exhibits too. Come back to Takamatsu later on in the day, and check into your hotel.
I really like the Clement Hotel, Rhiga Hotel, and the Dormy Inn. All very reasonably priced, and the service in each is top-notch.
In the evening take a walk through the covered arcade and find some local restaurant to try out. Don’t be shy if you don’t see an English menu right away. Lots of places are familiar with out of country visitors, so it will be perfectly okay. Just open the door and find a seat.
At the end of the day go on down to Grandfather’s Pub. It’s the best pub in town for listening to music and enjoying some “old school” Japanese pub hospitality. These guys are really great. http://grandfather.jp/takamatsu/
DAY TWO: Get up and check out Ritsurin Garden. It’s beautiful, historic, and full of flowers, pine trees, and carp. A must-visit when you come to Kagawa. You can go for a gentle boat ride around the lake, have a lovely tea from a tea house, and maybe even take a guided tour as well. It’s simply serene. After that, travel back to Takamatsu station and get on the train.
Let’s go to Tokushima!
When you get to Tokushima station venture out to see the NARUTO WHIRLPOOLS. This is such a great experience, and if the whirlpools are in high season it is quite cool. You can get out on a boat and see it closely if you like. Seriously, don’t worry, you will be perfectly safe. https://www.uzusio.com/en/access/
There are lots of things to do for the rest of your day in Tokushima. I like Annette White’s “bucket list for Tokushima”. Check this out! There are some great suggestions: https://bucketlistjourney.net/tokushima-bucket-list-best-things-to-do-in-japans-prefecture/
After spending the day adventuring, check in at your hotel in Tokushima city. I like the Smile Hotel Tokushima, Hotel Sunshine Tokushima, and the Tokushima Grandviro Hotel. Each has excellent service, is clean, and you will feel safe and secure.
DAY THREE: Get up and get out to the Ryouzenji Temple. This is the first temple of the 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku. It is a marvelous and wonderful experience for anyone. Go to the shop and ask them about what you might need to take a day walk on the pilgrimage. You might want the white overcoat and the “stamp book” (nokyouchou) that holds the beautiful seals and calligraphy from each temple you visit. You can easily book a day on a tour, and get explanations along the way. Check this out here: https://www.samuraitours.com/shikoku-88-temple-pilgrimage-day-1-temple-1-10/
DAY FOUR: Let’s take a journey into a more rural environment, but with nice people and at a leisurely pace. Let’s head on over to Brompton Tours run by the Awa-re company. The owner, Mr. Saeki is such a great guy. Spend the day with him and his team trundling around the countryside on fold-up bicycles that can jump on and off trains all over the area. See beautify rivers and bridges, stop for a delicious somen noodle lunch, visit fruit fields, and experience local handicraft too. At the end of the day, spend the night at a local inn.
DAY FIVE: Let’s take the train for a few hours and head on out to the very edge of Shikoku: Kochi Prefecture. Kochi is a huge area, and counts for about half of all of Shikoku. Take the train and rumble along the coast of the south of Shikoku. Enjoy the sight of yuzu fruit orchards and the rolling landscape until you arrive at Kochi City. Spend the day checking out Kochi Castle, and the evening at the Hirome market, where you can eat and drink with locals. If you have time during the day it would be great to get out on a canoe or paddle boat on the Niyodo River. The water is so pure and clear, you can see straight to the bottom. It’s like gliding on a mirror.
DAY SIX: After an evening of pleasant revelry with Kochi locals, it’s time to head north to Ehime Prefecture. There are some wonderful wonderful things to see here. Let’s go to to Uwajima Castle. The structure has been so carefully and delicately designed and maintained. Standing on the hill and climbing to the top you can really enjoy a panoramic view of the area. After visiting here I strongly recommend a visit to the marvel that is Garyu Sanso. This is an incredibly designed tea house with garden. The architecture and garden are combined in such a way that the Japanese aesthetic of “wabi-sabi” is sure to be better understood, even for a Canadian barbarian knucklehead like myself.
DAY SEVEN: No trip to Ehime would be complete with a visit to both the Matsuyama Castle, which is super cool, and Dogo Onsen, an ancient onsen bath that must be experienced to be understood. The buildings and culture of the area are glorious. And if you have time, go and visit Ishiteji, an unbelievable temple near the station, and which contains a key story to the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
DAY EIGHT: Our time is so fleeting, and here we are at the end of a Shikoku whirlwind. I lament that there are so many other places that I want to introduce to you. So many excellent natural places, outdoor activities, mountains to climb, shrines to visit, historical places to take in, delicious rare foods to try, and marvelous adult beverages to imbibe.
Now you are in Matsuyama. A quick trip north will send you to HIroshima if you choose, or hop on a quick flight back to Tokyo if home is beckoning you to return. In the meantime, you have made some astonishing memories to take with you, and there is much more to see and explore on your next visit to Shikoku.
I guess that I will just put up a few more suggestions for tours here to Shikoku for you to peruse and to choose from. Of course you can mix and match as you like, depending on your circumstances and schedule. It’s completely up to you!
All of these are merely suggestions for you to head out and put together a tour for yourself. But, if you would like someone to put all this together for you, please contact us directly. We have a number of land-operators and tour companies we consult with and refer visitors to. They can help you put together a seamless and stress-free deep Japan experience for you.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will get you on your way here!