Shikoku (四国, four countries) is the smallest of the four main islands that make up Japan, the only one not reached by Shinkansen (bullet) trains. Located south-west of the island of Honshū, between the inner sea of Seto and the Pacific Ocean, this region, subdivided into 4 prefectures (Kagawa, Tokushima, Kochi, and Ehime), is home to some of the most beautiful rural locations of Japan, still little known to the Western and Asian tourism.
Among the most well-known aspects of Shikoku, the 88 temple pilgrimage (四国遍路, Shikoku henro), often wandered by many Buddhist-monks and visitors seeking for something different, is certainly a representative role, touching in various stages different Buddhist temples, both in the city and in the mountain forests.
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Among the most well-known tourist spots in Shikoku, we can start with the city of Matsuyama, with its well-preserved castle, and the Dōgo Onsen thermal baths in the city center. To the south, in the same prefecture of Ehime, we find the castle of Uwajima. Imabari, as well as giving birth to the precious fabric with the same name, used for towels, bathrobes and other household linen, is the southern gateway to the Shimanami-Kaido, a breathtaking path articulated on several bridges suspended through picturesque islands, a favourite summer cycling route by hundreds of outdoor lovers.
The prefecture of Kagawa, to the northwest of the island, is the most easily accessible part of the train, thanks to the Honshi-Bisan line, which, through a series of giant bridges suspended on the various islands of the inland sea of Seto, connects Takamatsu, the capital, with Okayama, in the Honshu. In Takamatsu we find the relaxing Ritsurin gardens, while taking the Kotoden tram, we reach the Kimpira Shrine of Kotohira, located on a mountain, after a long staircase. Naruto whirlpools, on the other hand, are another attraction: the currents of the Pacific, which mix with those of the Inland Sea, create vortexes in the sea, under the Great Bridge of Naruto.
The prefecture of Tokushima, a little overshadowed by the amount of tourist attractions of nearby Kochi and Takamatsu, if well discovered can offer a lot, like the incredible vine bridges in the valley of Iya, or the traditional “Awa” dances where you can come across summer matsuri.
Kochi, finally, a narrow, long and curved prefecture, occupies the southern part of the island, extending between the capes of Muroto to the east, and Ashizuri, to the west. Kochi, the city of Sakamoto Ryoma, also has one of the 12 authentic castles of Japan, the beach of Katsurahama and in summer it will enchant you with the greenery and nature of the Shimanto River region to the west.
How to get to Shikoku
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