Mitoyo, Kagawa: Bring Your Camera! A Picture-Perfect Travel Itinerary
Mitoyo in Kagawa is famous for Chichibugahama Beach, a place that has one of Japan's most stunning sunsets. Other travel destinations include Mt. Shiude during the cherry blossom season, historic temples, and Tsushima Shrine. We introduce a travel route that is ideal for photography enthusiasts.
Mitoyo: A Picturesque City by the Seto Inland Sea
For camera enthusiasts looking to capture amazing photos somewhere new, we recommend Mitoyo City in western Kagawa.
Mitoyo has been garnering a lot of attention in recent years. One of the reasons for this is Chichibugahama Beach—placing number one on "Japan's Best Sunset Spots to Visit" by a major media outlet.
Secluded from urban areas, locals actively maintain and preserve the natural beauty of the beach. You can enjoy its magnificent views from various places.
A Day-Trip Itinerary for Mitoyo
It takes about one hour by car to get to Mitoyo from Takamatsu, Kagawa's major transportation hub. This short distance makes it an enjoyable destination for a day trip as well.
Mitoyo City is also a convenient site for popular destinations such as Kotohira Shrine, Dogo Onsen in Ehime Prefecture, and Iya Valley in Tokushima Prefecture. If you're looking to spend a few days traveling around the Shikoku region, Mitoyo will serve as an excellent place to base your stay.
The city is accessible by car, trains, and buses. In today's article, we introduce a car travel itinerary with Takamatsu as departure point (*1).
*1: You can reach Chichibugahama Beach, Mt. Shiude, and Tsushima Shrine by bus from JR Takuma Station. Motoyamaji Temple is close to Motoyama Station. You can also get to Chichibugahama from Takamatsu Airport by taking the Kotobus Udon Airport Shuttle (Japanese).
10:00 Rent a Car in Takamatsu
There are several car rental agencies and bike rental services nearby Takamatsu Station and Takamatsu Airport,
It's best to make a car rental reservation beforehand. For information on how to make a reservation and utilize car rentals in Japan, please refer to the MATCHA article below.
11:00 Tsushima Shrine: A Mystical Shrine Floating on the Sea
Located halfway along the route between Takamatsu and Chichibugahama is Tsushima Shrine.
This famously mysterious shrine is accessible only twice a year on August 4 and 5.
The entrance to the bridge leading to the shrine is often closed, but this beautiful building perched on a small island is visible from many places, so you can admire it whenever you want to.
You can descend onto the beach area from the bridge's entrance. Visitors can take amazing photographs of the shrine and the ocean views from different angles here.
The shrine's worship hall is located on the grounds before the bridge. During the fall, this area has many highlights—most notably the stunning autumn foliage—so please come here for a stroll.
11:30 Get Information in English at JR Takuma Station
JR Takuma Station is located near Tsushima Shrine. Here, you'll find the Mitoyo Tourism and Exchange Authority where you can pick up English and Chinese-language travel pamphlets. There are also English speaking employees available on some of the days. This is the perfect place to get local information.
13:00 Motoyamaji Temple and its Magnificent Five-Story Pagoda!
Motoyamaji Temple is the 70th temple on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage route in Shikoku.
On the quiet and tranquil grounds, a five-story pagoda towers majestically in the sky, appealing to every shutterbug's heart.
There are many highlights on the premises, including the temple's main building, which was designated a National Treasure of Japan. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of Japanese tradition and culture.
At Motoyamaji Temple, you can often see the silhouette of pilgrims reciting sutras. Experience this solemn, magnificent atmosphere while gazing from a distance.
14:00 Shonai Peninsula: Jam-Packed With Scenic Spots!
While heading to our next destination, Mt. Shiude, the area around the Shonai Peninsula offers some more eye-catching scenery.
There are several stopping points along the side of the road while heading up to Mt. Shiude. If you'd like to take a picture, please park your car carefully on the side of one of these roads. Be careful and drive safely!
14:30 Mt. Shiude: See Amazing Views of the Seto Inland Sea!
A photo of Mt. Shiude—overlooking the Seto Inland Sea—during the cherry blossom season was featured in the "New York Times." It quickly became a famous scenic spot following this feature.
Directly below the stone steps from the observation point (to the right of the Mt. Shiude Primary Parking Overlook), visitors can see a stunning ocean view sweeping out before their eyes.
The mountain summit is ten minutes away from Mt. Shiude Primary Parking Overlook. This observation point offers spectacular views facing the west, north, and east. From here, you can see the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, including Awashima and even as far as Okayama Prefecture on the opposite coastline.
Drop by the Mt. Shiude Archaeological Site Cafe right beside the summit observation point. Using your drink and dessert as props in the foreground, you can take a photo that captures the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea.
16:00 Chichibugahama Beach: Soak in Breathtaking Sunsets!
Facing the west, Chichibugahama Beach can be seen with a strikingly bright red sunset on clear, early evenings.
This famously beautiful beach is the perfect spot for photography enthusiasts.
Chichibugahama is nicknamed "Mirror of the Sky." During low tide, the many small tidal pools of the sandy pool reflect the sky beautifully, like a mirror.
If you position your camera just above the surface of one of these tide pools and press the shutter, you'll be able to capture some mystical and wondrous images. We recommend snapping photos ten to twenty minutes after the sunset because this is when the sky becomes the most colorful and magical.
The Chichibugahama area has plenty of stylish shops, including Chichibugahama Port (Japanese) that serves food and beverages incorporating Mitoyo's specialty products.
Using your hot drink or classy cocktail to add a splash of color, try taking a trendy photo for yourself (see above).
Lunchtime: Tasty Bowl of Udon or Chic Cafe?
Kagawa's signature dish is udon. Mitoyo is filled with many famous udon shops.
On the other hand, the Chichibugahama area is known for its heaps of sophisticated cafes and restaurants. Please choose which eatery you would prefer.
When searching for places to eat, please refer to the Mitoyo Tourism and Exchange Authority's official English homepage (restaurants).
Convenient Rest Stops for Lodging and Souvenirs
In Mitoyo, there's an accommodation facility complete with a hot spring bath that is convenient for those intending to visit places like Kotohira, or Iya in Tokushima Prefecture. You can also purchase souvenirs here.
Takarada no Sato Saita Rest Stop
Takarada no Sato Saita Rest Stop. Picture courtesy of Mitoyo City
Takarada no Sato Saita Rest Stop, situated along the highway going to Kotohira and Iya, is a convenient travel hub for sightseeing around the Shikoku region.
In addition to selling souvenirs and fresh vegetables, there's also an onsen (hot spring), restaurant, and cafe. Many locals stop in for a visit, too.
Fureai Park Mino Rest Stop sits beside Iyadaniji Temple, the 71st temple on the Shikoku Tour of 88 Temples. In the evening, you can experience the tranquil mood of this mountainous area.
There's a two-seater monorail (MonoRider) and a sports club so that visitors with children can have an enjoyable experience (*2).
*2: The reservation counters at Takarada no Sato Saita Rest Stop / Fureai Park Mino Rest Stop provide service in Japanese only. However, there are other accommodation facilities in Mitoyo that can assist you in English. Please refer to the Mitoyo Tourism and Exchange Authority's official English homepage (accommodations).
Kagawa's Scenery Is Beautiful Year-Round
Picture courtesy of Mitoyo City
Many people visit Mitoyo every year between the spring and fall.
The cherry blossoms come into full bloom on Mt. Shiude from the end of March until early April. While this is a breathtaking sight in spring, please be aware that some neighboring spots can become very crowded.
On the contrary, the period between December and February receives fewer visitors. During this off-season, Chichibugahama's sunsets and Motoyamaji Temple's tranquil beauty are equally as impressive!
The photos for this article were taken in December 2019 and January 2020. These images prove that the off-season is also the right time to visit!
Mitoyo's Stunning Natural Scenery
At first glance, the Mitoyo City area may appear to be nothing out of the ordinary. However, upon further inspection of the natural surroundings, there's a wealth of understated, yet stunning, scenery that will arouse the enthusiasm of any shutterbug.
Noted to have the highest number of sunny days in Japan, Kagawa has often been challenged by water shortages since ancient times.
As a result, small reservoir ponds evolved out of these circumstances. Mitoyo has no shortage of these reservoirs. You can take some impressive photos by placing your camera near the water's surface (*3).
The vast pastoral landscapes framed by small, sloping mountains is a characteristic scenery of Mitoyo (see photo above). Visitors can enjoy the changing face of this landscape during each season.
On your visit to Kagawa, use your creativity and originality to capture lots of amazing pictures for some lasting memories!
*3: Please do not scale fences or other barricades to get closer to a reservoir pond. Some of these ponds are privately owned, so please exercise caution when visiting the area.
Written by Mizzochi
Sponsored by Mitoyo City