Translated by Lester Somera
Japanese Encyclopedia: Shikoku Region
Written by MATCHA
Shikoku is known in Japan for its natural beauty, festivals and delicious food. This article is intended as a short guide for tourists who would like to visit.
The warm Shikoku region (四国地方) comprises four prefectures: Tokushima (徳川), Kagawa (香川), Ehime (愛媛), and Kochi (高知).
Travelling by shinkansen from Tokyo to Shikoku takes more than four hours, while flights from Haneda to each prefectural airport take around 75 to 90 minutes. There are also sleeper trains and night buses that operate various routes to Shikoku. Another option is traveling from Tokyo to Kobe, then taking a ferry from there to Takamatsu, in Kagawa Prefecture. When wanting to travel to the Shikoku region, please choose the method of transportation that is right for the length of your stay and your intended destination.
Pilgrims: A Typical Sight in Shikoku
Photo by Chris Harber on Flickr
Typical to Shikoku, people on pilgrimages (referred to as ohenro-san お遍路さん) are a famous sight in the area.
The pilgrimage is also referred to as "The Tour of 88 Temples" (Hachijū hakkasho meguri 八十八カ所巡り). It is said that there are 88 sacred grounds that exist on Shikoku, and by visiting all of them in the pursuit of knowledge, you can erase corrupting thoughts like greed and hatred, and receive answers to your prayers.
By traveling throughout all of Shikoku, pilgrims can meet people, eat various kinds of food, and experience different cultural aspects. Typically pilgrimages were done on foot, but these days, the number of people who take taxis or rent cars on their pilgrimages is increasing.
The ideal way to experience a pilgrimage is by walking, so that you can do your own introspection, while also coming in contact with Shikoku’s people and its natural scenery. However, the total distance is 1400 km. This might be difficult for foreign tourists, who need to take time, jetlag and funds into account.
That’s why we recommend that tourists try using taxis or a rental car for the pilgrimage. While it will cost money, the drivers know a lot about the local roads, and will help you have a safe and enjoyable trip.
The Natural Picturesque Beauty of Shikoku is Perfect for Couples
"The Shimantogawa river in Kochi, “the last clear stream” (Photo by Kohei Fujii on Flickr)
Of course, the attractive thing about Shikoku as a destination is its abundant nature. Places like the intense whirlpools of Naruto (鳴門) and the magnificent Shimantogawa river (四万十川) are famous, but there are also many great spots for couples that are not very well-known. Shikoku has many coastal capes, and the sight of the setting sun from these places is spectacular. The Gujō (具定) viewing platform, with its wide-ranging views of the evening and night scenery, is called “the holy ground for sweethearts.”
Of these many places, a particularly romantic place is the Angel Road, located on Shōdōshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture. When the tide goes out, twice a day, a sandy road appears on the beach. It is said that couples who hold hands and stroll down this road will be blessed with happiness. By all means, take a walk down Angel Road with someone you love.
Join the Revelry at the Three Grand Festivals in Shikoku
A Scene at the Awa Odori Festival
There are three events in Shikoku known as the grand festivals.
In Tokushima at the Awa Odori Festival (阿波踊り), dancers and spectators dance together, matching the rhythm of their movements to traditional Japanese songs and shouts, in the largest-scale dance festival in the country.
In Kochi, at the busy Yosakoi Festival (よさこい祭り), dancers in dazzling attire make noise with naruko clappers, which were traditionally used to drive birds away from crops.
The main attractions at the Niihama Taiko Matsuri Festival (新居浜太鼓祭り) are gorgeous, gigantic festival cars (floats adorned with ornaments) which are carried through the streets. The Awa Odori Festival runs from August 12th through the 15th, the Yosakoi Festival lasts from August 9th until the 12th, and the Niihama Taiko Matsuri Festival is held from October 16th until the 18th. The festivals are open to all tourists, so how about participating in them and making some special travel memories?
The Delicious Specialties of Shikoku
There are plently of regional specialties that make use of Shikoku's warm climate and the seas which surround it. As for each prefecture’s representative foodstuff, Kagawa has Sanuki udon, Tokushima has sudachi (a variety of citrus fruit), Kochi has bonito, and Ehime has iyokan (another variety of citrus fruit). These delicious, healthy items will surely guide your body to recovery after your tiring pilgrimage and festival outings.