Home DestinationsAsia 10 Best Things to Do in Shikoku : Top Attractions and Activities

10 Best Things to Do in Shikoku : Top Attractions and Activities

by Naoi Rei

Best Things to Do in Shikoku:Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, is a hidden gem that offers a wealth of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. From ancient temples and pilgrimage routes to stunning landscapes and delicious cuisine, Shikoku has something for everyone. In this article, we will explore the best things to do in Shikoku, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this enchanting island.

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Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 1. Explore the 88 Temple Pilgrimage

Photo By shikoku-tourism

One of the most iconic attractions in Shikoku is the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage that spans the entire island. This pilgrimage, known as the Shikoku Henro, takes visitors on a spiritual journey to 88 temples associated with the famous Buddhist monk Kukai. Whether you choose to complete the entire pilgrimage or visit a few select temples, this experience offers a unique insight into Japanese culture and spirituality.

The Iya Valley, nestled in the heart of Shikoku, is a remote and picturesque region known for its stunning landscapes and traditional thatched-roof houses. Take a walk across the vine bridges, explore the lush forests, and soak in the natural hot springs. For a unique experience, stay in a traditional Japanese inn, known as a ryokan, and savor the local cuisine.

– Tokushima – 

Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 2. Touch the skies at Hachigo-kiri Unkai

Hachigo-kiri Unkai covered in clouds

Photo By Fabrizio Conti (@conti_photos) on Unsplash

Come and discover the enchanting beauty of Hachigo-kiri Unkai, the most mystical destination in Shikoku! Witness the extraordinary sight of the “sea of clouds” as the morning mist gracefully rises from the Yoshina River and reaches towards the heavens. Marvel at this breathtaking panorama from the Asahi Outlook and allow yourself to be transported to a mesmerizing world reminiscent of Ghibli’s Spirited Away. For the best experience, we suggest visiting Hachigo-kiri Unkai between March and April, or October and December, when the clouds are at their densest.

Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 3. Cross the Iya Valley via zipline

a bridge above a creak in Iya Valley

Photo By Robyn Jay on Flickr

Who needs bridges when exploring the Iya Valley? Opt for zip lines instead! For an exhilarating experience in Shikoku, grab a harness and zoom past nature. At the Forest Adventure Iya Valley near the Kazurabashi Vine Bridge, you can enjoy various obstacle courses, from suspended treetops to zip lines over rivers and gorges. It guarantees a fun-filled time for the whole family!

Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 4. Trek the trails of Mount Tsurugi

a man standing somewhere in Mount Tsurugi posing for a photo

Photo By Stephan Ridgway on Flickr

What is Shikoku famous for? Its notable mountain ranges, particularly Mount Tsurugi, stand out. With a height of 1,955 feet, it is the second tallest mountain in western Japan and also the most accessible for hikers. Surprisingly, reaching the summit is not as challenging as one might think. Thanks to the climber’s lift, it takes roughly half an hour or less to reach the top. From there, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, the Seto Inland Sea, and even Okaya in Nagano. Interestingly, Mount Tsurugi is recognized as one of Japan’s “100 Famous Mountains,” so missing out on the opportunity to witness its beauty firsthand would be a rarity.

Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 5. Travel back in time to Udatsu

a couple walking along a quaint street in Udatsu

Photo By irisgazer on Flickr

If you’re a history enthusiast looking for things to do in Shikoku, you’re in luck! Tokushima offers an abundance of historical and cultural experiences. One must-visit spot is Udatsu Street, a charming neighborhood showcasing a collection of traditional Japanese homes that date back to the Edo period (1603-1867). Take a leisurely walk through this area, and you’ll be captivated by the beautifully adorned houses adorned with family crests, intricate woodwork, and protective demons on their rooftops. Additionally, Udatsu Street is home to some of Japan’s finest indigo-crafting workshops, allowing you to immerse yourself in the ancient art form that has been practiced for over a millennium.

– Kagawa –

Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 6. Have breakfast and tea at Ritsurin Garden

a pathway near a pond in the Ritsurin Garden

Photo By Wei-Te Wong on Flickr

Attention tea enthusiasts, prepare to be delighted! The stunning flora found within the captivating Ritsurin Garden will transport you into the pages of a storybook. Renowned for its timeless beauty, this garden showcases a breathtaking display of 1,000 blooming plants throughout the year. And the cherry on top? You have the opportunity to savor these enchanting sights while luxuriating in a piping hot cup of green tea at the Kikugetsutei Traditional Tea House. For just JPY3,000, immerse yourself in a delectable assortment of Japanese delicacies, accompanied by comforting miso soup and revitalizing ocha. Undoubtedly, this is a must-do experience for any tea lover visiting Shikoku!

Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 7. Discover sea life at the Shikoku Aquarium

a man looking into a fish tank with hammerhead sharks in Shikoku Aquarium

Photo By Shikoku Aquarium

With its location sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Seto Inland Sea, it comes as no surprise that this island is teeming with a variety of marine creatures. The Shikoku Aquarium is the perfect place to encounter sea jellies, penguins, sharks, and schools of fish that call the Naruto Strait their home. In addition, the aquarium offers a captivating light exhibit showcasing the legend of Ryugu Shrine, as well as an entertaining dolphin show to keep the younger ones engaged.

two girls happily making udon Photo By Katerina Holmes on Pexels[/caption]

If you’re a food enthusiast, Shikoku offers a plethora of activities to indulge in. In addition to its beautiful natural surroundings, the Kagawa prefecture beckons with its delectable cuisine, particularly the renowned udon noodles. Immerse yourself in the culinary art at the Nakano Udon School, where you’ll have the opportunity to roll, knead, cut, and even stomp your way to creating this special dish. Following your culinary adventure, you’ll have the chance to savor your own creation, resulting in a memorable experience to treasure.

Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 9. Take a day trip to Naoshima “Art” Island

man jumping for joy beside a Yayoi Kusama art installation in Naoshima Island

Photo By Lorie Shaull on Flickr

Shikoku, particularly Naoshima Island, is a haven for modern art enthusiasts. This small island is teeming with awe-inspiring artworks created by renowned Japanese artists as well as emerging talents. As you disembark at Miyanoura Port, you’ll be welcomed by Yayoi Kusama’s iconic Red Pumpkin, a popular spot for capturing memorable photos on the island. Additionally, you can explore the architectural marvel of the Ando Museum, masterfully designed by Tadao Ando himself. Another unique attraction is the I Love Yu bathhouse, characterized by its mosaic decorations and an impressive elephant statue within its premises.

– Kochi – 

Best Things to Do in Shikoku : 10. Cruise the Shimanto River on a yakatabune (traditional roofed boat)

a view of the Shimanto River and people crossing a bridge

Photo By azumaya888 on Flickr

To conclude our selection of the top activities in Shikoku, we highly recommend exploring the Shimanto River, famously known as the “Last Clear Stream of Japan.” This pristine gem showcases a freely flowing river with remarkably transparent waters. Embarking on a yakatabune, a traditional Japanese boat with a roof, will offer you unparalleled views of enchanting forested canyons, undulating hills, and timeless farmlands that have retained their natural beauty over the ages.

Best Things to Do in Shikoku Summary

Shikoku offers a diverse range of attractions that cater to different interests. Whether you are seeking spiritual enlightenment, natural beauty, or culinary delights, Shikoku has it all. From the 88 Temple Pilgrimage to the Ritsurin Garden, Naruto Whirlpools, Iya Valley, and local cuisine, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this enchanting island.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How long does it take to complete the 88 Temple Pilgrimage?

Completing the entire 88 Temple Pilgrimage can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days, depending on your pace and the number of temples you visit each day. However, many visitors choose to complete a shorter section of the pilgrimage, which can be done in a few days.

2. Are the Naruto Whirlpools dangerous?

The Naruto Whirlpools can be powerful, but they are generally not dangerous for visitors. Boat tours are conducted with safety measures in place, and the Naruto Whirlpool Observation Deck offers a safe vantage point to view the whirlpools.

3. How do I get to Shikoku?

Shikoku is accessible by air, train, and ferry. The island has four major airports, with the most convenient being Takamatsu Airport. There are also train connections from major cities in Japan, and ferries operate between Shikoku and other nearby islands.

4. When is the best time to visit Shikoku?

The best time to visit Shikoku is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild, and the landscapes are adorned with cherry blossoms or vibrant fall foliage. However, each season offers its own unique charm, so Shikoku can be enjoyed year-round.

5. Can I rent a car in Shikoku?

Yes, car rental services are available in Shikoku, making it convenient to explore the island at your own pace. However, it is important to note that some areas, such as the Iya Valley, have narrow and winding roads, so driving with caution is advised.

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