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Traveling to Shikoku, Japan, offers a unique experience filled with natural beauty, cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine. Here's detailed travel advice to help you plan your trip to Shikoku:


1. Planning Your Trip:
Duration: Plan to spend at least a week exploring Shikoku to fully experience its diverse attractions.


Transportation: Consider renting a car for flexibility, especially if you want to explore rural areas. Alternatively, Shikoku has a well-connected public transportation system, including trains and buses.


Accommodation: Book accommodations in advance, especially during peak seasons like cherry blossom season in spring and summer festival season. Options range from traditional ryokans (Japanese inns) to modern hotels and guesthouses.


2. Getting There:


By Air: The most convenient way to reach Shikoku is by flying to one of its major

cities: Takamatsu (Kagawa Prefecture), Matsuyama (Ehime Prefecture), Kochi (Kochi Prefecture), or Tokushima (Tokushima Prefecture).


By Train: If you're traveling from other parts of Japan, you can take a shinkansen (bullet train) to Okayama or Hiroshima and then transfer to a limited express train or ferry to Shikoku.


3. Exploring Shikoku:


Shikoku Pilgrimage: Consider embarking on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, a 1,200-kilometer route that connects 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi. Even if you're not completing the entire pilgrimage, visiting some of the temples can provide a profound cultural experience.


Natural Beauty: Explore Shikoku's stunning natural landscapes, including the rugged cliffs of Cape Ashizuri, the scenic Iya Valley with its vine bridges, and the picturesque Naruto Whirlpools in the Naruto Strait.


Cultural Attractions: Visit historical sites such as Matsuyama Castle in Matsuyama, Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, and Kochi Castle in Kochi. Don't miss the traditional paper-making village of Udatsu in Kagawa Prefecture.


Culinary Delights: Indulge in Shikoku's delicious cuisine, which includes Sanuki udon (thick wheat noodles), Kochi's renowned katsuo no tataki (lightly seared bonito), and Ehime's refreshing mikan (mandarin oranges).


Festivals: Time your visit to coincide with one of Shikoku's lively festivals, such as the Awa Odori Dance Festival in Tokushima or the Yosakoi Dance Festival in Kochi.


4. Tips for Enjoying Your Trip:


Respect Local Customs: Be mindful of local customs and etiquette, such as removing your shoes before entering a tatami room and bowing when greeting others.


Language: While English may be limited in rural areas, locals are often friendly and helpful. Consider learning some basic Japanese phrases or using translation apps to facilitate communication.


Cash: While credit cards are accepted in larger establishments, it's advisable to carry cash, especially in more remote areas.


Weather: Check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly, especially if you plan to engage in outdoor activities.
Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance to cover unexpected events such as medical emergencies or trip cancellations.


5. Additional Resources:


Guidebooks: Invest in a reliable travel guidebook for detailed information on Shikoku's attractions, accommodations, and dining options.


Online Resources: Utilize travel websites, forums, and blogs for insider tips and recommendations from fellow travelers who have visited Shikoku.


Local Tourism Offices: Seek assistance from local tourism offices or visitor centers for maps, brochures, and guidance on planning your itinerary.
By following this detailed travel advice, you can make the most of your trip to Shikoku and create unforgettable memories exploring Japan's scenic and culturally rich island.

Exploring Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, offers a delightful journey through stunning natural landscapes, serene temples, and rich cultural traditions. Here are three suggested itineraries to make the most of your visit to Shikoku:


1. Classic Highlights Tour:
Day 1: Arrival in Takamatsu
Arrive in Takamatsu, the capital of Kagawa Prefecture, known for its beautiful gardens and historic sites.
Visit Ritsurin Garden, one of Japan's most celebrated gardens, featuring picturesque ponds, pavilions, and meticulously landscaped greenery.
Explore Takamatsu's lively shopping streets and sample Sanuki Udon, a famous local noodle dish.


Day 2: Takamatsu to Matsuyama
Travel to Matsuyama, the capital of Ehime Prefecture, known for its historic castle and hot springs.
Visit Matsuyama Castle, one of Japan's twelve original castles, offering panoramic views of the city and Seto Inland Sea.
Relax in Dogo Onsen, one of Japan's oldest hot spring resorts, and explore Dogo Onsen Honkan, a historic bathhouse dating back over a thousand years.


Day 3: Matsuyama to Kochi
Journey to Kochi, the capital of Kochi Prefecture, renowned for its scenic coastline and vibrant local culture.
Explore Kochi Castle, one of the few surviving original castles in Japan, and stroll through the adjacent castle grounds.
Visit Hirome Market, a bustling food market offering a variety of local delicacies and fresh seafood.


Day 4: Kochi to Iya Valley
Travel to the remote Iya Valley, nestled in the heart of Shikoku's mountainous interior.
Explore the vine bridges of Iya Valley, including the iconic Kazurabashi Bridge, suspended high above the Iya River.
Take a scenic hike along the Iya Valley's lush trails, dotted with waterfalls, traditional thatched-roof houses, and stunning viewpoints.


Day 5: Iya Valley to Naruto
Head to Naruto, a coastal city known for its powerful whirlpools in the Naruto Strait.
Take a boat tour to witness the Naruto Whirlpools up close, formed by tidal currents between the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Visit Naruto Park and enjoy panoramic views of the strait from the Uzushio Observation Deck.


Day 6: Naruto to Tokushima
Travel to Tokushima, the capital of Tokushima Prefecture, famous for its traditional Awa Odori dance festival.
Explore Ryozenji Temple, the first temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, and experience a taste of the pilgrimage route.
Attend a performance or workshop related to Awa Odori dance to learn about this vibrant cultural tradition.


Day 7: Departure from Tokushima
Depending on your departure time, take the opportunity to explore more of Tokushima's attractions or do some last-minute shopping for souvenirs.
Depart from Tokushima, marking the end of your journey through Shikoku.


2. Nature and Outdoor Adventure Tour:
Day 1: Arrival in Kochi
Arrive in Kochi and explore the city's coastal attractions, including Kochi Castle and Katsurahama Beach.
Enjoy a seafood dinner at Hirome Market, sampling fresh catches from the Pacific Ocean.


Day 2: Kochi to Shimanto River
Travel to the pristine Shimanto River, known as "Japan's last clear stream," and embark on a leisurely canoeing or kayaking adventure.
Explore the scenic riverside cycling paths or take a relaxing boat cruise along the tranquil waters.


Day 3: Shimanto River to Iya Valley
Journey to the remote Iya Valley and immerse yourself in its unspoiled natural beauty.
Hike along the Iya Valley's forested trails, discovering hidden waterfalls, traditional thatched-roof houses, and breathtaking viewpoints.


Day 4: Iya Valley to Mt. Tsurugi
Conquer Mt. Tsurugi, Shikoku's second-highest peak, with a challenging yet rewarding hike to its summit.
Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys from the observation platform at the summit.


Day 5: Mt. Tsurugi to Tokushima
Descend from Mt. Tsurugi and travel to Tokushima, stopping along the way to explore Tokushima's rural landscapes and charming villages.
Relax in Tokushima's hot springs or take a stroll along the city's riverside promenade.


Day 6: Tokushima to Naruto
Head to Naruto and witness the powerful whirlpools in the Naruto Strait aboard a boat tour.
Visit Naruto Park and enjoy panoramic views of the strait from the Uzushio Observation Deck.


Day 7: Departure from Naruto
Depending on your departure time, explore more of Naruto's attractions or take a relaxing walk along the Naruto Whirlpools Promenade.
Depart from Naruto, concluding your nature and outdoor adventure tour of Shikoku.


3. Cultural and Spiritual Journey:
Day 1: Arrival in Tokushima
Arrive in Tokushima and explore the city's cultural attractions, including Ryozenji Temple, the first temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
Attend a performance or workshop related to Awa Odori dance to learn about this vibrant cultural tradition.


Day 2: Tokushima to Kochi
Travel to Kochi and immerse yourself in the city's rich history and heritage.
Visit Kochi Castle, one of Japan's twelve original castles, and explore the adjacent castle grounds.


Day 3: Kochi to Uwajima
Journey to Uwajima and visit Uwajima Castle, known as "Tenshaen" for its beautiful cherry blossom gardens.
Explore Uwajima's historic district, including the picturesque Warei Shrine and bustling Uwajima Ushioni Market.


Day 4: Uwajima to Matsuyama
Travel to Matsuyama and visit Matsuyama Castle, offering panoramic views of the city and Seto Inland Sea.
Relax in Dogo Onsen, one of Japan's oldest hot spring resorts, and explore Dogo Onsen Honkan, a historic bathhouse dating back over a thousand years.


Day 5: Matsuyama to Takamatsu
Head to Takamatsu and explore the city's renowned gardens and historic sites.
Visit Ritsurin Garden, one of Japan's most celebrated gardens, and stroll through its meticulously landscaped grounds.


Day 6: Takamatsu to Naruto
Travel to Naruto and witness the powerful whirlpools in the Naruto Strait aboard a boat tour.
Visit Naruto Park and enjoy panoramic views of the strait from the Uzushio Observation Deck.


Day 7: Departure from Naruto
Depending on your departure time, explore more of Naruto's attractions or take a leisurely walk along the Naruto Whirlpools Promenade.
Depart from Naruto, marking the end of your cultural and spiritual journey through Shikoku.

Deciding on the best time to visit Shikoku, Japan, involves considering various factors such as weather, festivals, and personal preferences. Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, offers a diverse range of attractions, including stunning natural scenery, historical sites, and cultural experiences. Each season brings its own unique charm to the region, so let's explore the best times to visit Shikoku throughout the year:


Spring (March to May):


Cherry Blossom Season: Spring is a popular time to visit Shikoku due to the beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom. Parks, gardens, and riversides become adorned with delicate pink flowers, creating picturesque landscapes. Some of the best spots to enjoy cherry blossoms include Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, Hiwasa Town in Tokushima, and Kochi Castle in Kochi Prefecture.


Mild Weather: Spring temperatures are pleasant, ranging from around 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F), making it comfortable for outdoor activities such as hiking and sightseeing.


Summer (June to August):

Festivals: Summer in Shikoku is synonymous with lively festivals known as "matsuri." The Awa Odori Dance Festival in Tokushima is one of the most famous, featuring traditional dance performances throughout the city streets. The Tenjin Matsuri in Takamatsu and the Yosakoi Dance Festival in Kochi are also popular events.
Outdoor Activities: With longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F), summer is ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and visiting beaches. Shikoku's coastline offers opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.


Autumn (September to November):

Foliage Season: Autumn brings vibrant foliage to Shikoku's mountains and forests. Maple trees, gingko trees, and other deciduous trees turn shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating stunning landscapes. Popular spots for autumn foliage include Iya Valley in Tokushima and the Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu.
Mild Weather: Similar to spring, autumn offers mild temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F), making it comfortable for outdoor exploration.


Winter (December to February):

Mild Coastal Climate: Shikoku's coastal areas experience relatively mild winters compared to other parts of Japan. However, higher elevations in the mountains may receive snowfall, making it a good time for winter sports enthusiasts.


New Year Celebrations: The New Year period is celebrated with various traditional customs and events, including visiting temples for hatsumode (the first shrine or temple visit of the year) and enjoying traditional foods like osechi ryori (New Year's dishes).


Citrus Harvest: Winter is citrus season in Shikoku, known for its delicious varieties of mikan (mandarin oranges) and yuzu. Visitors can participate in citrus-picking experiences at orchards across the island.


Overall Considerations:


Crowds and Prices: Peak tourist seasons in Shikoku coincide with cherry blossom season in spring and the summer festival season. Expect larger crowds and higher accommodation prices during these times. Conversely, visiting during the shoulder seasons of late spring or autumn may offer a more peaceful experience with lower costs.


Personal Preferences: Consider your interests and preferences when choosing the best time to visit Shikoku. Whether you prefer outdoor activities, cultural festivals, or serene nature experiences, there's something for everyone year-round in Shikoku.
In conclusion, the best time to visit Shikoku depends on your preferences for weather, festivals, and activities. Spring and autumn are popular for their mild temperatures and natural beauty, while summer offers vibrant festivals and outdoor adventures. Winter provides a unique experience with citrus harvesting and New Year celebrations. Ultimately, Shikoku's diverse offerings ensure an enjoyable visit regardless of the season.

Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, offers various accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. These options include:


Hotels: Shikoku has a range of hotels, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly options. They offer amenities like comfortable rooms, restaurants, and sometimes onsen (hot spring baths).


Ryokan: Traditional Japanese inns, ryokans provide a cultural experience with tatami-matted rooms, futon beds, and often meals served in-room or in a communal dining area. Many ryokans also have onsen.


Minshuku: Similar to ryokans but simpler and usually family-run, minshukus offer a more intimate experience and are often more affordable. Guests may share bathrooms and meals with the family.


Guesthouses: These are budget-friendly accommodations where travelers can stay in dormitory-style rooms or private rooms. They often have shared facilities like kitchens and lounges, fostering a social atmosphere.


Machiya: Traditional wooden townhouses found in places like Takamatsu and Matsuyama, machiya have been converted into guest accommodations, providing a unique blend of history and comfort.



Capsule Hotels: Popular among solo travelers, capsule hotels offer small sleeping pods with basic amenities. They are a budget-friendly option for those seeking a simple place to rest.


Business Hotels: These hotels cater primarily to business travelers and offer basic amenities at reasonable prices. They are typically located in urban areas and provide convenient access to transportation hubs.


Travelers to Shikoku can choose from these accommodation options based on their preferences, budget, and desired level of comfort.