Shikoku

The smallest and least populated of the four major islands, Shikoku is a glimpse of Japan before the Meiji Restoration ushered in the industrial age.

Much of the inland area is impenetrable; steep-sided, densely forested mountains soar skywards, their bases disappearing into bottomless ravines, whilst white-water rivers twist and turn along the valley floor.

Amidst this you will find hamlets of old farmhouses, vine bridges and ancient temples. The Pacific coast offers opportunities for whale watching and diving, whilst on the coast of the Inland Sea you will find the castle city of Matsuyama, home to Japan's oldest bathhouse: Dogo Onsen.

Linking this formerly isolated island to the mainland is the Shimanami Kaido, an extraordinary construction of interconnected bridges which offer an ideal route for cycling enthusiasts.

  • Filled with steep-sided valleys, hidden villages, vine bridges and feudal castles, Shikoku is the perfect place to explore Japan's rural side, to try some delicious udon noodles and to mix with the very friendly locals.
    Ruth Hubbard - Product Manager
  • Matsuyama

    The town of Matsuyama dominates the northwestern corner of Shikoku. The city is home to an impressive castle and some of the most relaxing hot-spring baths in Japan.

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  • Iya Valley

    Iya Valley is Japan's hidden secret, cut deep in an island of gorges, steep sided mountains and untamed rivers. Shikoku is a wild country where modernisation has only taken hold along the industrialised coast of the Inland Sea. This is not an easy place to travel but it is richly rewarding.

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  • Kochi

    Kochi Prefecture is Japan's poorest and most rural district. However the sparsely populated region boasts unrivalled scenery, from Japan's last untamed river, the Shimanto-gawa, to the spectacular rugged coastline

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  • Kotohira

    The small town of Kotohira is home to Kompira-san, one of Shikoku's top attractions and one of the main temples of the 88 temple pilgrimage route. The shrine was founded in the 14th century Muromachi period and at this time pilgrimages to the shrine became fashionable.

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  • Tokushima

    Tokushima is the capital of Tokushima Prefecture, one of the four prefectures on Shikoku Island, and the largest city on the island; an attractive city, surrounded by 1,000 metre mountains on three sides and the Inland Sea on the fourth.

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  • Uwajima

    Uwajima is a small historic city on the saw-toothed west coast of Shikoku. If you make it here you can be assured that you are well off the typical tourist trail.

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  • Takamatsu

    For many visitors Takamatsu is the gateway to Shikoku; the large, modern city on the north coast is a major transport hub funnelling road, rail and ferry traffic from Honshu across the island. But if you find yourself passing through, it is well worth breaking your journey here for a few hours.

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  • Naoshima

    Amongst the 3000 islands that pepper the Seto Island Sea lies Naoshima, an island group known for its sandy beaches, relaxed atmosphere and most importantly the modern art.

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