Translated by Hilary Keyes
Takamatsu Travel Guide - Activities, Where To Stay, And Transportation
Takamatsu, Kagawa, is a large city and travel destination close to Osaka and Kyoto. Visitors can enjoy island hopping around Naoshima, Teshima, and Toshima by ferry, as well as enjoy the city with its Japanese gardens to delicious udon noodles. This guide covers things to do and travel tips.
Written by Mayu
All About Travel in Takamatsu
Takamatsu is the largest city in Kagawa Prefecture, part of the Shikoku region of Japan. This scenic location is by the Seto Inland Sea, within accessible distance from Osaka, Kyoto, and the Kansai area.
Takamatsu is also a great spot to stay when island hopping around art-filled Shodoshima, Naoshima, and Toshima, as well as dozens of other small islands. Its harbors make it a great place to stay when the Setouchi Triennale is held.
Continue reading to learn what activities you can enjoy in Takamatsu, where to stay, and how to get there.
1. Admire Japanese Gardens at Ritsurin Garden
Risturin Garden is a traditonal Japanese garden, recognized as a place of scenic beauty in Japan, was also awarded three stars by the Michelin Sightseeing Guide in 2009. There are six ponds and thirteen buildings on this 16.2-hectare site, the equivalent of three and a half Tokyo Domes, which creates a stunning landscape of pure Japanese style.
Open: From sunrise to sunset
Entrance fee: Adults 410 yen, children 170 yen
Address: Kagawa, Takamatsu, Ritsurincho 1-20-16
Website: Ritsurin Garden
2. Encounter History at the Takamatsu Castle Ruins (Tamamo Park)
Takamatsu Castle, also known as Tomamu Castle, was built 500 years ago. It was the only castle in Japan built facing the sea. Although most of the castle has been lost now, a part of the castle such as the moon viewing tower and many of the stone walls still remain. During a visit, you can walk around the castle, see gardens, and also ride in a traditional boat in the moat.
3. Polish Your Senses at the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum is an art museum exhibiting 150 works by prominent 20th-century sculptor, Isamu Noguchi, whose intention was to inspire artists of the next generation. The classic, minimalist pieces here amaze all visitors.
If you wish to visit, please note that it is necessary to apply by postcard 2 weeks in advance of your desired visit date (see the official website for more details).
3. Enjoy Tasty Udon Noodles by Takamatsu Station
Kagawa Prefecture is also known as the "udon prefecture," as the udon noodles here are some of the most delicious and high-quality in Japan. When visiting Kagawa, make sure to try Sanuki udon, a particular famous variety slightly thicker than other noodles. The area around JR Takamatsu Station is filled with famous udon restaurants. Below are some suggestions for authentic, flavorful udon:
Ajisho is a long-standing restaurant located only a two-minute walk from Takamatsu Station. Here you will find an orthodox version of Kagawa's famous udon. The noodles are springy and surrounded with rich bonito fish-based dashi stock. Diners can add extra broth (tsuyu) to the dish. Guests will receive a bowl of the cooked noodles, and then using the faucet at your table, add in as much stock as they like.
Address: Kagawa, Takamatsu, Nishinomaru 5-15 Google Map
Merikenya is a popular local chain restaurant just a three-minute walk from Takamatsu Station. They offer high-quality dishes with sturdy udon noodles in a thick soup.
Kawafuku Honten is a ten-minute walk from Takamatsu Station, or a three-minute walk from Kataharamachi Station. The noodles here are even slightly thicker than ordinary Sanuki udon noodles, and are said to have an almost mochi-like texture. You're sure to enjoy the taste and texture of this dish.
Teuchi Udon Tsumaru
Teuchi Udon Tsumaru is a fifteen-minute walk from Takamatsu Station or a five-minute walk from Kawaramachi Station. The restaurant is most known for its flavorful Japanese curry udon. The combination of the rich curry and the thick, handmade noodles is very satisfying.
Zaigo Honke Waraya
Zaigo Honke Waraya is a ten-minute walk from Takamatsu Station, or a three-minute walk from Katakaramachi Station. The restaurant is known for serving their udon in great big tubs, suitable for multiple diners and families. They also have an exquisite bonito stock that receives high reviews.
Address: Kagawa, Takamatsu, Yashimanakamachi 91 Google Map
4. Enjoy Gourmet Food and Shopping in Kitahama Alley
Kitahama Alley is a popular shopping district located near Takamatsu Port. The old warehouse buildings here were renovated into a shopping center, resulting in a nostalgic, antique feel fused with modern.
Here you can enjoy a wide variety of shops selling everything from apparel to fashion items and interior decor. There are also many cafes and restaurants, making this the perfect place for those that want to relax and shop.
5. View the Seto Inland Sea from Sunport Takamatsu
Sunport Takamatsu is located near Takamatsu Port. From its seafront promenade, you can enjoy stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea. This is also the tallest building in the Shikoku Region. Bring your camera and snap some gorgeous photos of the landscape.
6. Appreciate Local History at the Kagawa Prefectural Museum
The Kagawa Prefectural Museum is a museum exhibiting materials related to Kagawa history and culture. Among their exhibits, items related to Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism who was born in the Sanuki district 1,200 years ago, as well as Buddhist implements he brought back from the Tang Dynasty in China, are of particular note.
7. Experience Life in Old Japan at Shikokumura
Shikokumura is an open-air architectural park where visitors can see old homes that were relocated from all across Shikoku and rebuilt here. There are private homes from 100 years ago, during the Edo to Taisho eras. Within the houses, you can see the stoves used at the time, as well as tubs used for making soy sauce, which helps visitors to appreciate how people in the past lived in Japan.
Juxtaposed with these buildings is the Shikokumura Gallery, which was designed by the world renowned modern Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. Here you will find paintings, sculptures, and works of Eastern art on display.
8. Island Hop to Naoshima and Teshima for Art
Although they are small outlying islands, Naoshima and Teshima are home to many art museums. These islands also are major venues during the Setouchi Triennale.
Chichu Art Museum on Naoshima was designed by renowned architect, Tadao Ando. Despite being constructed underground, natural light flows into this bright facility where works of masters such as Claude Monet and James Turrell are displayed.
The Teshima Art Museum is famous for its collection of works by the artist and architect Rei Naito. The building itself is also a masterpiece.
Where to Stay in Takamatsu
Takamatsu is an ideal location to base a stay when visiting the Setouchi Triennale or sightseeing around the Setouchi Islands. Below are a couple of recommendations suitable for visitors from overseas.
Konyamachi Guest House KuKu is a guesthouse located in central Takamatsu, right by a shopping alley. The guesthouse staff here speak Chinese, English, and Japanese, so it is a very international-friendly lodging. Another recommendation is SUNNY DAY, a casual lodging with shared rooms as well as more private options.
Access to Takamatsu
Takamatsu is accessible via public transportation from Honshu, Japan's main island. It is a great side trip if you are coming from Kyoto, Osaka, or Kobe. Takamatsu also has an airport, with flights that connect to Narita, Haneda, and other areas of Japan. It takes a little over an hour to fly from the Tokyo area.
For travelers coming from Osaka, Kyoto, or Kobe, it is convenient to take a highway bus. The ride takes a little over two hours.
To use the train, ride the JR Marine Liner, which connects Okayama Prefecture to Takamatsu. This is an ideal option for JR Pass Holders: take the Shinkansen to Okayama Station and transfer there.
Enjoy the Seascape, Art, and Hidden Charms in Takamatsu
Takamatsu is a destination where visitors can experience one of Japan's oceans and a remarkably different environment than that of a large city. The area still offers plenty of entertainment and unique experiences to those who visit, however, and it is a great place to stay when visiting other Shikoku prefectures or the inland sea islands.
Main picture courtesy of PIXTA