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Kagawa: Top 26 Things to Do, Islands, Art, Food, Hotels, and More

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Kagawa is home to the venues of the Setouchi Triennale such as the art islands of Naoshima and Shodoshima, and Kotohira-gu Shrine, a sacred site. Learn about the best things to do in Kagawa, how to access its islands, regional udon cuisine, unique hotels, and other travel tips.

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Kagawa: A Vibrant Prefecture Brimming with Art and Food

Kagawa, a prefecture in Japan's Shikoku region facing the Seto Inland Sea, has always been a popular tourist destination—famed for udon noodles, its regional cuisine, and spiritual sites, like Kotohira-gu Shrine and the scenic Takaya Shrine.

The Setouchi Triennale, one of the largest art festivals in Japan, takes place in Kagawa's cities and islands such as Naoshima and Shodoshima, drawing many art enthusiasts.

Many famous places to visit in Kagawa are located in Takamatsu City. The islands can be accessed from various ports. This article features the best places to visit and things to do in Kagawa by area.

Kagawa: Top 26 Things to Do by Area

1. Takamatsu: 3 Must-Visit Places
2. Shodoshima Island: 3 Scenic Locations
3. Naoshima, Teshima: Islands Accessible from Takamatsu
4. Other Amazing Places to Visit in Kagawa
5. Honjima, Awashima: Islands Accessible from Marugame and Mitoyo
6. The Shikoku Pilgrimage
7. Kagawa's Local Food
8. Major Events in Kagawa
9. Cherry Blossoms and Fall Foliage in Kagawa
10. Hotels and Guesthouses in Kagawa
11. Access and Transportation in Kagawa
12. Explore the Shikoku Region from Kagawa

Takamatsu: 3 Must-Visit Places

During the Edo Period (1603-1868), Takamatsu—the current center of the prefecture—was ruled by the Matsudaira clan, related to the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled the country. The district prospered in crafts, with remnants of that era still visible today.

1. Takamatsu Castle and Tamamo Park

Kagawa: The Best 26 Things to Do, Art, Islands

Takamatsu Castle was built in 1588 with an innovative plan of drawing the water into the moat from the ocean. Along with Imabari Castle (Ehime) and Nakatsu Castle (Oita), it is one of Japan's three major water castles.

Although the tenshukaku (castle tower) is gone, the moat, stone walls, turrets, and gates are intact. Visitors can sense the majestic presence of this water castle.

Tamamo Park was built on the former site of the castle. Hiunkaku was used as a villa and guesthouse by the daimyo (feudal lord). There's also a beautiful Japanese garden within the park grounds.

Address: Takamatsu, Tamamo-cho 2-1
Official Website:

2. Ritsurin Garden

Kagawa: The Best 26 Things to Do, Art, Islands

Ritsurin Garden was built in the Edo Period as a villa for the lord of the Takamatsu Domain. In 2009, it achieved the highest three-star ranking in the Michelin Green Guide Japan.

There are six ponds and 13 landscaped hills on the grounds, with the view changing with each step. The garden is designed in the shakkei style (borrowed scenery), creating the illusion that the distant mountains are part of the garden landscape.

Ritsurin-an, a shop that handles souvenirs from around Kagawa, is also on the grounds.

Address: Takamatsu, Ritsurin-cho 1-20-16
Official Website: h

3. Yashima Island Area

Kagawa: The Best 26 Things to Do, Art, Islands

Yashima, located in the northeastern part of Takamatsu, spans five kilometers long from north to south. It is famous as the pivotal site for the Battle of Yashima (1185) between the clans of Minamoto and Taira, recounted in The Tale of the Heike. There are many historic sites in the area.

The New Yashima Aquarium, home to about 130 species with 1,000 animals in total, and Yashimaji, one of the 88 Temples of Shikoku, are also located here. In August 2022, a hybrid facility with a unique exterior called Yashimar was built.

Shikoku Mura, a village-modeled park where visitors can learn about various cultures in Shikoku, and Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, displaying works by the internationally renowned sculptor, are accessible from Yashima.

Address: Takamatsu, Yashima-Higashimachi 1784-6 (Yashimar)
Official Website:

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Shodoshima Island: 3 Scenic Locations

It takes an hour by ferry from Takamatsu to Shodoshima, a popular sightseeing spot in Kagawa. In addition to its long history of producing soy sauce, the island is known for its somen (thin noodles) and olives.

While there are numerous spots in Shodoshima, the following are must-see attractions.

Ferry from Takamatsu to Shodoshima:

4. Angel Road

Shodoshima Angel Road

Photo by Pixta

From Tonosho Port, the gateway to Shodoshima, it takes ten minutes by bus to Angel Road: a sand road that appears twice daily at low tide.

It is said that if you walk the road holding hands with a beloved, your wishes will come true. This is a romantic place to visit for couples.

Meiro no Machi (Maze Town), alongside the Yokai Art Museum, is located nearby local cafes and eateries.

Address: Kagawa, Shozu, Tonosho-cho, Koh 24-92
Official Website:

5. Shodoshima Olive Park Roadside Station

Kagawa: The Best 26 Things to Do, Art, Islands

Shodoshima Olive Park Roadside Station is a park with 2,000 olive trees placed next to a roadside station.

The park's trademark is a white Greek windmill located on a hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. It appeared in Kiki's Delivery Service, a live-action film released in 2014. Recently, straddling a broom and taking photos while jumping up in the air with the windmill in the background has become a fad.

Visitors can also enjoy restaurants, a hot spring, and the Olive Museum, which displays materials about the relationship between the island and the fruit.

Address: Kagawa, Shozu, Shodoshima-cho, Nishimura, Koh 1941-1
Official Website:

6. Kankakei Gorge

Shodoshima Kankakei

Photo by Pixta

Along with Yabakei (Oita) and Mt. Myogi (Gunma), Kankakei is regarded as one of the three major gorges in Japan. The sight from the ropeway, looking down on the rock walls created over 2 million years, is truly grand.

Visitors can enjoy trekking, fine food, and kawarake nage: an activity where participants throw unglazed pottery through a ring. It is said that those who succeed will lead a happy life.

Address: Kagawa, Shozu, Shodoshima-cho, Kankakedori, Otsu 168 (Kankakei Ropeway)
Official Website:

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Islands Accessible from Takamatsu

In addition to Shodoshima, Takamatsu serves as a gateway to numerous islands. These islands, including Naoshima, are key sites during the Setouchi Triennale, where site-specific artworks are displayed in the surroundings.

7. Naoshima Island

Kagawa: The Best 26 Things to Do, Art, Islands

Naoshima is a 50-minute ferry ride from Takamatsu. Starting in the 1980s, Fukutake Foundation promoted various activities related to education and art. The island has become a mecca of contemporary art and a popular destination for tourists.

"Red Pumpkin" by Yayoi Kusama, an internationally acclaimed artist, along with facilities like the Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House Museum, designed by Tadao Ando, are located on the island.

Naoshima is filled with numerous one-of-a-kind facilities created by artists, such as Naoshima Bath "I ♥ 湯" (I love yu). Stylish cafes have also started to appear recently, adding new appeals to the island.

Ferry from Takamatsu to Naoshima:

Address: Kagawa, Kagawa, Naoshima-cho 2249-40 (Umi no Eki Naoshima)
Official Website:

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8. Teshima Island

Setouchi Triennale

A scenic view of Teshima.

Teshima, another island known for its artworks, is a 20-minute ferry ride from Naoshima.

The Teshima Art Museum, designed by artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa, along with Les Archives du Cœur, an extraordinary work where visitors can listen to recordings of heartbeats, are located on the island.

In the past, toxic waste was illegally dumped on Teshima, causing the island to contend with damages caused by rumors and soil pollution. Locals are trying to rejuvenate the community by participating in the art movement.

Ferry from Takamatsu to Teshima:
Ferry from Naoshima to Teshima:

Address: Kagawa, Shozu, Tonosho-cho, Teshima-Ieura 3841-21 (Teshima Tourist Center)
Official Website:

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9. Megijima Island


"Terrace Winds" by Yasuyoshi Sugiura (Setouchi Triennale 2013). From: Explore Megijima: Art and Cafes on a Unique Island Destination in Japan

It is a 20-minute ferry ride from Takamatsu to Megijima. The island serves as a swimming beach for locals.

It is famous for the Onigashima Cavern, the legendary dwelling place of ogres. Visitors can also enjoy various artworks displayed in the Setouchi Triennale.

Ferry from Takamatsu to Megijima:

Address: Takamatsu, Megi-cho 235 (Onigashima Tourist Association)
Official Website:

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10. Ogijima Island


"Ogijima’s Soul" by Jaume Plensa (2010)

It is a 40-minute ferry ride from Takamatsu and a 20-minute ride from Megijima to Ogijima. It is a small island with a population of about 150 inhabitants.

Since the houses are built along hills, visitors will be greeted with unique scenery. The landscape is dotted with numerous artworks related to the Setouchi Triennale.

From the start of the art festival, many people have relocated to Ogijima. The new locals are opening cafes, and even a library, creating a new townscape.

Ferry from Takamatsu to Ogijima:

Address: Takamatsu, Ogi-cho 1925-1
Official Website:

Other Amazing Places to visit in Kagawa

The most famous sightseeing spot in Kagawa, outside the Takamatsu area, is Kotohira-gu Shrine, also known as Konpira-san.

Recently, Chichibugahama in Mitoyo City, with a fantastic view, has become a popular destination, and the Shikoku Aquarium, which opened in 2020, is also drawing attention.

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11. Shikoku Aquarium

Shikoku Aquarium, which opened in 2020 in Utazu-cho, is the largest of its kind in Shikoku. The displays re-create various waterscapes in Shikoku, such as the Seto Inland Sea and Pacific Ocean. Visitors may feel like they've entered an art museum.

The aquarium boasts a live performance by dolphins with the Pacific Ocean in the backdrop and an AI-assisted guidance system—the first of its kind in Japan.

Address: Kagawa, Ayauta, Utazu-cho, Hama-Ichibancho 4
Official Website:

12. Shirotori Zoo

Shirotori Zoo, located in Higashi-Kagawa City, is known for its animals mingling with visitors. Junichi Matsumura, the current director, was a circus animal trainer and founded the zoo in 1985.

Turtles and rabbits roam freely on the vast grounds. Visitors can touch an elephant's nose or ride a horse. They even offer guests the opportunity to pet baby tigers and lions.

Address: Higashi-Kagawa, Matsubara 2111
Official Website: (Japanese)

13. Seto Ohashi Commemorative Park

Seto Ohashi Commemorative Park

Seto Ohashi, which connects Sakaide (Kagawa) and the Kojima district in Kurashiki (Okayama), is one of the world's longest road–rail bridges.

A Commemorative Hall, which displays materials about the bridge construction, along with an athletic park and a tower with an observatory, stands inside Seto Ohashi Commemorative Park in Sakaide, at the foot of the bridge.

The Higashiyama Kaii Setouchi Art Museum, displaying the works of Kaii Higashiyama, one of the masters of Japanese painting, is also located on the grounds. Visitors can enjoy a view of the bridge from the cafe.

Address: Sakaide, Bannosu-Midoricho 6-13
Official Website:

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14. Marugame Castle

Kagawa: The Best 26 Things to Do, Art, Islands

Marugame Castle, located in Marugame, is one of 12 Japanese citadels where the original tower is intact. It is known for its stone walls, rising to the height of 60 meters—the highest in Japan.

Uchiwa Kobo Take, a workshop where participants can make a Marugame fan (a traditional craft) is located in the castle.

Address: Marugame, Ichiban-cho
Official Website:

15. Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art (MIMOCA)

Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art

It's only a minute's walk from JR Marugame Station to MIMOCA. The museum displays the works of Genichiro Inokuma, who was born in Kagawa and became famous in the United States.

The museum architect is Yoshio Taniguchi, designer of the New York MoMA expansion. Visitors can enjoy the architecture, along with the museum shop and cafe.

Address: Marugame, Hama-machi 80-1
Official Website:

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16. Reoma Resort

Reoma Resort

From: New Reoma World: Kagawa's Best Amusement Park

Reoma Resort is the largest recreational facility in Shikoku. It consists of New Reoma World, an amusement park; Reoma Flower World, a flower park; Oriental Trip, a re-creation of historic Asian sites; and Reoma Light World, which is filled with illuminations.

Visitors can stay overnight at Hotel Reoma no Mori, a hot spring resort on the grounds.

Address: Marugame, Ayauta-cho, Kumakuri-Nishi 40-1
Official Website:

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17. Kotohira-gu Shrine


Kotohira-gu Shrine is affectionately called Konpira-san. During the Edo Period, along with Ise Jingu Shrine in present-day Mie, it was the shrine that countless people hoped to visit once in their lifetime.

From the approach, there are 785 stone steps to the hongu (main shrine) and a total of 1,368 steps to the okusha (rear shrine). Many interesting spots, including the Takahashi Yuichi Museum, are along the way.

Nakano Udon School, where visitors can try noodle making, and a museum managed by Kinryo, a local brewery, are near the approach, alongside cafes and souvenir shops.

Address: Kagawa, Nakatado, Kotohira-cho 892-1
Official Website: (Japanese)

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18. Chichibugahama Beach

Kagawa: The Best 26 Things to Do, Art, Islands

Picture courtesy of Mitoyo City. From: A Gorgeous Sunset! 5 Ways To Enjoy Chichibugahama Beach In Kagawa

Chichibugahama Beach, located in Mitoyo City in western Kagawa, is known as the Japanese version of Salar de Uyuni.

A large pool created at low tide works like a mirror reflecting the sky, turning the beach into an ideal photo spot. Chichibugahama became famous through social media, growing into a popular sightseeing destination.

There are many nearby cafes and lodgings to enjoy the scenery.

Address: Mitoyo, Nio-cho, Nio-otsu 203-3
Official Website:

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19. Takaya Shrine

Kagawa: Top 26 Things to Do, Islands, Art, Food, Hotels, and More

Photo by Pixta
Takaya Shrine in Kan-onji City, nicknamed the "torii in the sky," is a spot to enjoy great views. Located on top of Mt. Inazumi at an altitude of 404 meters, visitors can see the town and ocean beyond the torii gate.

The shrine is near Chichibugahama Beach and Kotohira-gu Shrine, so it would be best to visit them in one visit.

Address: Kan-onji, Takaya-cho 2800
Official Website: (Japanese)

20. Unpenji Temple

Unpenji Temple

Picture courtesy of Kagawa Prefecture Tourism Association

Unpenji, located at an altitude of 927 meters, is one of the 88 Temples of Shikoku. It also has a famous ropeway (Japanese), traveling approximately 2,600 meters in length with a height difference of 660 meters.

The temple has many features, including the Gohyaku Rakan: a collection of 500 Buddhist statues.

The "Swing in the Sky" in Unpenji Park at the mountaintop has recently garnered popularity. Visitors can take photos with them appearing on a swing floating in midair.

Address: Kan-onji, Ohnohara-cho, Marui (Unpenji Ropeway)
Official Website: (Japanese)

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21. Zenigata Sunae

Zenigata Sunae

From: Sea, Mountains, and Hot Springs! Cycling at Chichibugahama in Kagawa

Zenigata Sunae, located in Kan-onji City, is a sand painting of a coin used during the Edo Period. It measures 122 meters from east to west and 90 meters from north to south.

The legend says it was created one night in 1633 to greet the visiting feudal lord. It is currently maintained by locals in Kan-onji.

Address: Kan-onji, Ariake-cho 14
Official Website: (Japanese)

22. Sanuki Manno Park

Sanuki Manno Park

From: Sanuki Manno Park: Fabulous Scenery With Seasonal Flowers and Lights

Sanuki Manno Park in Manno-cho is the only national park in Shikoku. Visitors can enjoy seasonal flowers like cherry blossoms, nemophila, kochia, and cosmos. The park has camping grounds, so it's also fit for a picnic.

The park hosts illumination events in winter, the largest of its kind in Shikoku. MONSTER baSH (Japanese), a large-scale music festival, will be held in the summer.

Address: Kagawa, Nakatado, Manno-cho, Yoshino 4243-12
Official Website:

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Islands Accessible from Marugame and Mitoyo

There are numerous islands in Kagawa, in addition to Shodoshima and Naoshima. The following are isles accessible from Marugame or Mitoyo.

23. Honjima (Marugame City)


Honjima, accessible from Marugame Port, is one of the Setouchi Triennale sites with various artworks across the island.

The island was the base for Shiwaku Suigun, a group of highly skilled sailors and shipbuilders. The preserved buildings in the Kasashima district, constructed in the early Showa Period, maintain an atmosphere of those times.

Honjima Stand (cafe) opened in 2018 and Kyufuku Brewing Honjima (beer factory) in 2022 are establishments that have added to the island's appeal.

Ferry from Marugame to Honjima: (Japanese)

Address: Marugame, Honjima-cho, Tomari 494-16 (Honjima Kisen Waiting Room)
Official Website: (Japanese)

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24. Awashima (Mitoyo City)


Awashima, accessible from Suda Port in Mitoyo, is another Setouchi Triennale site.

Japan's first public merchant marine school was founded on this island. The elegant green schoolhouse is presently the Awashima Maritime Museum. As of May 2023, the building is closed due to earthquake-resistant construction. Visitors are only allowed to view the exterior.

Awashima also manages an artist-in-residence program. Their artworks are even displayed at Awashima Artists’ Village. "The Missing Post Office," which collects undeliverable letters, is one such artwork.

Ferry from Suda Port to Awashima: (Japanese)

Address: Mitoyo, Takuma-cho, Awashima 1541 (Awashima Maritime Museum)
Official Website: h

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25. Shishijima (Mitoyo City)


Around 20 people live on Shishijima, located next to Awashima. The island, known for its 1,300-year-old Oh-kusu (tall camphor tree), is brimming with spiritual energy.

Recently, Tenku no Hanabatake (Skyview Meadow)—offering a view of the sky, ocean, and flower garden—has become popular, drawing many tourists to the island.

Ferry from Miyanoshita Port to Shishijima: (Japanese)

Official Website:

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26. The Shikoku Pilgrimage

Shikoku Pilgrimage

Shikoku is famous for the o-henro, a pilgrimage of the 88 Temples of Shikoku. The legend goes that all temples are related to Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai). There are 23 temples from the 66th to the 88th in Kagawa.

While all of the temples are distinctively different, the most famous are Zentsuji, located in the birthplace of Kobo Daishi (774-835), Iyadaniji, known for its magaibutsu (Buddhist statues carved in a rocky mountain facade), and Ohkuboji, the 88th temple along the route.

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Kagawa's Local Food Specialties


Kagawa is famous for udon noodle dishes.

Due to the lack of precipitation, people were forced to grow wheat instead of rice. Iriko (dried anchovies), used when making broth, are another local product that gives local udon noodles a distinctive Kagawa flavor.

The population of Kagawa is around 970,000, which is rather small. But as of 2016, there are 544 udon restaurants—exceeding the number of convenience stores in the prefecture.


Another regional cuisine is honetsuki-dori, a bone-in chicken soaked in soy sauce and sprinkled with pepper.

Kagawa is also famous for dishes cooked with olive oil, which is produced on Shodoshima.

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Major Events in Kagawa

Kagawa hosts a wide variety of events.

Setouchi Triennale

Setouchi Triennale 2022

"Daidaraurutorabou" by Toshimitsu Ito (2022)

Setouchi Triennale is an art festival with venues spread among 12 islands and two ports in Okayama and Kagawa prefectures. Since its inception in 2010, the festival has been held every three years, marking its fifth anniversary in 2022.

Some artworks can be seen year-round at sites, including Naoshima, even in the festival's off years.

There are also various events and tours during the off-season. For more details, please check the official website.

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Summer Festival at Tsushima Shrine

Tsushima Shrine

The main shrine of Tsushima Jinja, located in Mitoyo City, is on a small island. Visitors can only cross the bridge during the annual summer festival on August 4th and 5th.

JR Tsushimanomiya Station, which exclusively opens on those two days, has the shortest operating days per year in Japan. Railroad enthusiasts should not miss this annual opportunity!

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Cherry Blossoms and Fall Foliage in Kagawa

Visit Mt. Shiude for Cherry Blossoms

Mt. Shiude

While there are many spots to view the cherry blossoms in Kagawa, the most famous may be Mt. Shiude in Mitoyo City. Along with the seasonal flowers, visitors can take in the view of the Seto Inland Sea.

Please note that traffic will be restricted during the cherry blossom season. For more details, check the official website of Mitoyo Tourism and Exchange Authority.

Visit Kankakei Gorge for Fall Foliage


Photo by Pixta

While Kankakei Gorge in Shodoshima is a prominent spot in the prefecture with a spectacular view, it is especially popular in autumn. Visitors can take in the sight of the foliage decorating the steep mountains from the ropeway.

Ritsurin Garden will also be lit up at night during this time of the year.

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Hotels and Guesthouses in Kagawa


Recently, special types of guesthouses and hotels have opened for business in Kagawa. This includes Anabuki-tei (Takamatsu), which looks like a castle, and Benesse House (Naoshima), where guests stay at a museum!


Urashima Village, located in the western part of Kagawa, opened in 2020. Guests will be treated to a magnificent view.

JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu

Picture courtesy of

Those staying in Takamatsu should check out JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu, a budget-friendly hotel.

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Access and Transportation in Kagawa

The transportation system in Kagawa starts from JR Takamatsu Station and Takamatsu Airport, which serve as gateways to the area. It takes about 4.5 hours from Tokyo to the former while riding the Shinkansen and limited express trains. It is an hour-and-20-minute flight from Haneda Airport and a 1.5-hour flight from Narita Airport.

While trains and buses are available in Takamatsu, renting a car in other areas might be wise.

Kotoden (Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad) serves tourists headed to Kotohira-gu in Kotohira-cho. Those planning to visit Chichibugahama, Zenigata Sunae, and Takaya Shrine should ride the Hearts Shuttle (Japanese), which operates on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays.

Setouchi Area Pass and JR Shikoku Pass are discount tickets for overseas visitors. They will come in handy when traveling the Setouchi area or Shikoku region, so be sure to take a look!

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Explore Shikoku Region from Kagawa

Shikoku consists of four prefectures: Ehime, famous for Dogo Onsen; Tokushima, known for giant whirlpools in the Naruto Strait with one of the three fastest currents in the world; Kochi, where Hirome Market, boasting a wide variety of food, is held; and Kagawa.

Check our regional guides and add these picturesque areas to your travel itinerary!

This is a revised version of an article originally published in March 2017.
Main image by Pixta

Written by

Previous experience as an editor at a women's media company in Japan. I lived in Australia for a while and joined MATCHA after returning to Japan. In charge of editing, promoting sponsored content, and creative direction. I love watching Western TV series.
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