Japan is known as a country comprised of four islands. If you look at Japan on the map, there’s this one patch of land on its southern edge that’s slowly becoming a popular travel destination.
Known by its name of Shikoku, it is the smallest and least populous of Japan’s four main islands, yet it is a place where religion, nature and influence are evident.
Shikoku is known to be the birthplace of well-known Buddhism Pillar Kobo Daishi and since then, the island has been preserving their religious beliefs and practices. Within the island, you’ll be able to see gorgeous lines of rivers meant to relax your tired soul, along with walls upon walls of castles, gardens and food hotspots to explore.
Shikoku, despite the evident distance from the Japan’s mainland, is easily accessed through advanced travel engineering, so it won’t be a hassle for you to pay this small area a visit.
Shikoku is known to span a whopping land area of 18,800 square kilometers and is subdivided by four singular prefectures namely Ehime, Kochi, Tokushima and Kagawa. At 50-150 kilometers for its width and 225 kilometers for its length, the island of Shikoku is still a small patch compared to Sardinia and Bananal.
Shikoku is also an odd feat of geography as the island doesn’t have any volcanoes. The cities and towns surrounding Shikoku include Gamoda on its easternmost area, Sada found on its west, Muroto on its south most tip and Takamatsu bordering Shikoku’s north.
According to the Koppen Climate Classification and due to the island’s well-placed location, it is blessed with a subtropical/inland-sea type climate. Given this fusion of two climate classifications, the general Shikoku weather has long and dry summers with shorter yet milder winters. Winters are said to occur in the months of December, January and February bringing heavy snowfall across the island.
Come March until May, spring brings back life with long sunshine hours keeping everything abloom and fresh. Summers are experienced when June kicks in and can last until August, being accompanied by a 35-degree Celsius average temperature and moist winds circulating the whole of Shikoku. Temperatures gradually fall in September and they can go lower with the approach of October and November.
The expressways connecting Shikoku to the nearby Main Island are the Seto-Chuo Expressway, Nishiseto Expressway and the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway. From Honshu, Shikoku is easily reached through ferry, air and land travel via the Great Seto Bridge.
When it comes to railways, Shikoku can be reached via several lines offered by the Shikoku Railway Company and they include the Mugi Line, Yodo Line, Naruto Line, Dosan Line, Uchiko Line and Tokushima Line.
While the island doesn’t have an airport of its own, there are four regional airports that you can travel from including the Tokushima, Takamatsu, Matsuyama and Kochi-Ryoma airports. Traveling by ferry is also something that you might want to consider as this mode of transportation is quite cheap, convenient and ultra-fast.
What to See
One of the most famous religious establishments that you can visit while in Shikoku is the majestic Konpira-san which is technically a Shinto-Buddhist shrine.
One of the most notable challenges if you visit Konpira-san is the long and seemingly exhausting steps to get to the top, which amounts to exactly 1368. After your sacrifice in getting to the shrine’s peak, you’ll gain a completely tranquil experience where you can pray to several religious statues.
Requiring almost a century to complete the whole garden, Ritsurin-koen has lived up to the effort exerted to build it as this is one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens of all time. Dating back to the mid-1600s, this is now an impressive area of well-manicured lawns, numerous historical tea houses to jolt your senses and several tatami rooms that you can sit in to find inner peace and relaxation.
Also located inside is the famous Sanuki Folkcraft Museum which showcases a prolific exhibit of artifacts and handicrafts from old and influential Japanese dynasties.
If you’re into performing arts, then you must pay the Kanamaru-za a visit if ever you get a chance. Dubbed as Japan’s oldest kabuki performance house, this establishment was completely restored so that it can be used again for impressive plays and performances.
With all the technological advancement, the playhouse is now equipped with revolving stages and mechanisms that are quite useful for kabuki plays and the like.
Known as the ‘vine bridge’, the Kazurabashi is a refreshing take when you become saturated with Shikoku’s industrialized feel and concrete vibe.
Within the gaps of this creaking yet sturdy vine lies the river gushing wildly below, which makes crossing the bridge an exhilarating activity.
Tourism Shikoku: Home
Shikoku Travel Guide – Japan Guide