Surrounded by the tranquil Seto Inland Sea and the dynamic Pacific Ocean, Shikoku has everything a traveler could wish for: seas, mountains, rivers, delicious food, traditional culture, and a long and fascinating history. We are sure that in Shikoku you will find an abundance of attractions that will create memories to last a lifetime.
Shikoku Geography and Access
Shikoku is one of the four main islands that make up Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) . The island is located between the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean. There are four prefectures located there: Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. Tokushima has close political, economic, and cultural ties to the Kansai region of Honshu, which includes cities like Osaka and Kyoto.
In recent years, three bridges spanning the Seto Inland Sea have created land routes between Honshu and Shikoku. One connects Kobe to the city of Naruto in Tokushima via Awaji Island on the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway (the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge). The second route connects Okayama Prefecture's Hayashima with the city of Sakaide in Kagawa via the Seto-Chuo Expressway (the six Seto-Ohashi Bridges; this route also features a rail line). The third connects Hiroshima's Onomichi with the city of Imabari in Ehime via the Nishi-Seto Expressway (the three Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridges; this route is also accessible by foot or bicycle). With the construction of these routes, travel between Honshu and Shikoku via expressway and railway (Seto-Ohashi Bridge) has become more convenient than ever before.
A Wealth of Destinations Offering Art, Nature, Hot springs and much more
The Pacific side of the island, which consists of the portion located to the south of Shikoku's mountain range, which runs east to west, sees more than its share of rain, but the climate of the entire island is relatively warm.
There are plenty of wild natural spots, scenic and historic places, and traditional festivals.
Naoshima, is a special place where nature and contemporary art coexist. Mt. Ishizuchi, one of the highest peaks in West Japan, is a popular destination for hikers. You can gaze upon the Naruto whirlpools, which are some of the largest whirlpools in the world. The thatched traditional house known as Chiiori, which is located in the Iya valley, is known as one of the three most remote places in Japan as well as the place where the defeated Heike warriors took refuge at the end of the 12th century. It provides a wonderful exploration of both past and present. The Shimanto River, which is called Japan's last clear stream, is where local people enjoy many forms of river recreation. Kompira Shrine is home to the god of the sea, the protector of those who travel on the waves. Dogo Hot Spring is one of Japan's oldest hot springs and has several thousand years of history. The Awa Odori summer festival attracts 1.3 million people annually, and Kochi prefecture's summer Yosakoi festival attracts 1 million people. Both are spectacular. Kochi's outdoor Sunday Market is one of Japan's largest markets, and a place where vendors and locals gather. These and many many other attractions are what make up Shikoku.
Unique and Traditional Dining
There is a spectrum of unique traditional foods made with the abundant produce from both land and sea. Sanuki udon is made with wheat noodles and a soup stock made from soy sauce and seafood. Tai meshi is made by cooking rice together with a whole sea bream. Tokushima ramen has a thick, rich broth made from pork and chicken bones. Katsuo no tataki is made by grilling the surface of raw bonito tuna and is served with a variety of strong-tasting accompaniments, including slices of raw garlic, green onions, and ginger. Each region has its own unique local dishes, and the variety of tastes is a joy to explore.
One of the World's Oldest and Most Revered Pilgrimage Routes, the Shikoku Henro
One highly recommended experience for visitors to Shikoku is the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage (the Shikoku Henro). The Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage is made up of sacred sights where Kobo Daishi (774 - 835), one of the greatest figures in Japanese Buddhism, studied and trained. The religious journey is said to impart travelers with blessings and religious merit, and it's also a great way to enjoy the sights of Shikoku. The journey around the island to all 88 temples is approximately 1450 km long. Typically, walking the entire Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage takes 40 - 50 days, but now many people spend a single day visiting several temples, and takes buses or taxis to make the trip as efficient as possible. Pilgrims can use whatever method suits their individual situations.
Are you ready to start planning your relaxing visit to Shikoku?
Discover the grandeur of Shikoku's nature, encounter buildings steeped in history and tradition, explore streets and festivals, taste the blessings of the land, experience local cuisine, and get to know Shikoku in depth on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Surely a trip like this will leave you feeling fulfilled and happy, with a sense of being healed and renewed. Come experience the wonders of Shikoku that the local people have nurtured and valued for thousands of years.
Shikoku was chosen by Lonely Planet to be featured in their travel guide
Lonely Planet is a travel guidebook, travel information website and app featuring information on over 120 countries and regions. Shikoku was the only place in Japan to make it into Lonely Planet's July web feature "Best in Asia Pacific" for 2019, ranking in at number 2.
Shikoku Tourism has partnered with related organizations to promote foreign visitors to Japan. With the upcoming mega sports events scheduled to be held in Japan, the number of travelers coming to Japan for longer stays is expected to increase and Shikoku Tourism is developing business strategies to meet this target market.
Thanks to Shikoku being picked up by Lonely Planet, we have been able to further promote the charm of Shikoku and have attracted more attention as a travel destination for those visiting Japan. By making the most of this opportunity, we will continue to encourage awareness of Shikoku as a top travel destination and further promote our region to foreign travelers visiting Japan.