Japan Today

Shikoku is a hidden gem of history and spirituality


Located south of Honshu, Shikoku is the smallest of Japan’s five main islands after Okinawa. Historically isolated from the mainland, Shikoku developed unique architectural and religious characteristics. The region is also a top producer of citrus.

Shikoku is most famous for its 88 Temple Pilgrimage, a 1400 kilometer route established by Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. The pilgrimage circles through sweeping valleys, past tranquil streams, and secret rural communities, up to misty mountaintop shrines and self-realization. Although modern pilgrims can travel the route by bus, it’s worth making at least some of the journey on foot to really experience what Shikoku has to offer.


If you time it right, sightseeing cruises are available to get a closer look at the Naruto whirlpools.

Tokushima is situated between lush mountain ranges and the Naruto whirlpools. The prefectural capital is host to the Awa Odori Festival which is one of Japan’s most famous dance festivals. For those looking to embark on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, Tokushima serves as the starting point. Before embarking on the pilgrimage, try the many local delicacies like Tokushima ramen which is best described to be heavy, flavorful and topped with a raw egg.


Ehime is the final destination on the Shimanami Kaido, which is a cycling course that is made up of several bridges that link Honshu to Shikoku. The trail passes over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea and offers beautiful views of the surrounding seascape. In the prefectural capital of Matsuyama City, tourists can take the ropeway up to Matsuyama Castle for a sweeping panoramic view of the city’s landscape. For Ghibli fans, remember to drop by Dogo Onsen which has over 1,000 years of history and been said to be the inspiration for the bathhouse in "Spirited Away."

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Top spot Shikoku. My favorites are the katsuo tataki in Kochi, the slow train on the Yodo line between Kochi and Ehime (some stunning scenery), Ehime's sea bream and jakoten along with its 5 castles.

Grab a bicycle and cycle the Shimanami Kaido.

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Most authentic region of Japan accessible by ferry from Tokyo to Tokushima. The UFO (mountain) line between Kochi and Ehime prefectures is recommendable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Shimanami Kaido is high on my list of places to go cycling for sure!

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I love KOCHI.

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Shikoku is known for Nichia, Imabari Shipbuilding and Otsuka pharmaceuticals.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The North Coast between Imabari and Sakaide is maybe not all that attractive, but the Asahi beer factory in Saijo is a must do! Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu - the Iya Valley, I could go on and on!

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I've always wanted to travel to Shikoku! Someday...

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Been to Shikoku many times. Ritsurin Koen in Takamatsu was fantastic, and I had the best udon in Takamatsu, too. The Iya Kazurabashi (祖谷かずら橋) (vine bridges) in Miyoshi are quite unique. Just a short train ride from Tokushima. Ehime has the best citrus (mikans) anywhere. So much not mentioned in this article, but maybe that is good, too.

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