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14 things to do in Shikoku, Japan

Shikoku may be less popular but it has much to offer.

Japanese island sea coastline from above, Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima Island, Kagawa, Japan. (Photo: Gettyimages)
Shikoku is seperated from Honshu by the Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima Island, Kagawa, Japan. (Photo: Gettyimages)

The smallest and least populous of Japan’s four main islands, Shikoku is located to the south of Honshu, where its capital Tokyo resides. Despite Shikoku being relatively less popular among tourists, it also has picturesque landscapes like the other three islands, and is known for the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Shikoku is divided into four prefectures: Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. The island is characterised by mountains, valleys, and a rugged coastline. It is separated from Honshu by the Seto Inland Sea to the north and east.

Currently, there are no direct flights from Singapore to Shikoku. But you can easily make use of the Japan domestic flights to access the island. Additionally, Shikoku is connected to Honshu by a network of bridges and tunnels, making travel between the two islands relatively convenient. Once on Shikoku, trains, buses, and cars are common modes of transportation for exploring the island.

If you’re tired of the usual sights and sounds in the touristy and crowded Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, consider visiting Shikoku for a change. Here are some things you can do in Shikoku.

1. Shikoku Pilgrimage

Undertake the Shikoku Pilgrimage with Mount Koya in Wakayama Prefecture as the starting point, visiting the 88 Buddhist temples associated with Kobo Daishi. Whether you’re a pilgrim seeking spiritual enlightenment or a traveller interested in cultural experiences, this journey provides a unique perspective on the island.

Mt Koya Walking Tour from Osaka

From S$378.95

Mt Koya Walking Tour from Osaka. (Photo: Klook SG)
Mt Koya Walking Tour from Osaka. (Photo: Klook SG)

2. Iya Valley

Explore the scenic Iya Valley, known for its steep slopes, kazurabashi (vine bridges), and traditional thatched-roof houses. The valley offers opportunities for hiking, river rafting, and enjoying the picturesque landscapes.

The Iya Kazurabashi stretches 45 metres across the Iya River at the centre of the valley and gives visitors an unsettling view of the water 14 meters below the open slats of the span. (Photo: Gettyimages)
The Iya Kazurabashi stretches 45 metres across the Iya River at the centre of the valley and gives visitors an unsettling view of the water 14 meters below the open slats of the span. (Photo: Gettyimages)

3. Ritsurin Garden

Visit Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, one of Japan’s most famous traditional gardens. The meticulously landscaped gardens feature ponds, bridges, and teahouses, providing a peaceful retreat for visitors.

Shikoku Kimono Rental Experience: Wandering in Ritsurin Garden | Japan

S$39.03

Shikoku Kimono Rental Experience: Wandering in Ritsurin Garden | Japan. (Photo: KKday SG)
Shikoku Kimono Rental Experience: Wandering in Ritsurin Garden | Japan. (Photo: KKday SG)

4. Naruto Whirlpools

Witness the impressive Naruto whirlpools in the Naruto Strait. Boat tours are available to get a closer look at these natural phenomena created by the powerful tidal currents.

Naruto Whirlpools & Awaji Island & Kobe One Day Tour from Osaka

S$63.15

Naruto Whirlpools & Awaji Island & Kobe One Day Tour from Osaka. (Photo: Klook SG)
Naruto Whirlpools & Awaji Island & Kobe One Day Tour from Osaka. (Photo: Klook SG)

5. Kochi Castle

Explore Kochi Castle in Kochi City, one of the few remaining original castles in Japan. The castle grounds offer historical insights, and the panoramic view from the top is breathtaking.

6. Awa Odori

Attend the Awa Odori, a lively and colourful dance festival held annually from 12 to 15 August as part of the Obon festival in Tokushima Prefecture. The largest dance festival in Japan, locals and tourists alike participate in the traditional dance, creating a festive atmosphere.

Naruto Whirlpools, Awa Odori Kaikan, & Awaji Island Tour from Osaka

S$80.45

Naruto Whirlpools, Awa Odori Kaikan, & Awaji Island Tour from Osaka. (Photo: Klook SG)
Naruto Whirlpools, Awa Odori Kaikan, & Awaji Island Tour from Osaka. (Photo: Klook SG)

7. Sanuki Udon Tasting

Kagawa Prefecture is renowned for Sanuki udon. Try this thick wheat noodle dish at local udon shops and savour the variety of flavours and toppings available.

Homemade Sanuki-Udon Noodle-Making Experience

From S$16.35

Homemade Sanuki-Udon Noodle Making Experience. (Photo: Klook SG)
Homemade Sanuki-Udon Noodle Making Experience. (Photo: Klook SG)

8. Shimanami Kaido Cycling

If you're a cycling enthusiast, consider biking the Shimanami Kaido, a scenic route that connects Shikoku to Honshu via a series of islands. The route offers beautiful views of the Seto Inland Sea.

Shimanami Kaido. (Photo: Gettyimages)
Shimanami Kaido. (Photo: Gettyimages)

9. Cape Ashizuri

Cape Ashizuri in Kochi Prefecture is a rugged and picturesque coastal area. The cape is known for its lighthouse, stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and the peaceful atmosphere.

Kochi | Ashizuri Marine Museum SATOUMI | Discount admission ticket

S$8.92 (was S$11.15)

Kochi | Ashizuri Marine Museum SATOUMI | Discount admission ticket. (Photo: KKday SG)
Kochi | Ashizuri Marine Museum SATOUMI | Discount admission ticket. (Photo: KKday SG)

10. Matsuyama Castle and Dogo Onsen

Explore Matsuyama Castle, perched on Mount Katsuyama in Ehime Prefecture, and then relax in Dogo Onsen, one of Japan’s oldest hot springs. Some of you may find Dogo Onsen oddly familiar as the design of the iconic Yubaba’s bathhouse in Spirited Away is inspired by it.

Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. (Photo: Gettyimages)
Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. (Photo: Gettyimages)

11. Oboke, Koboke and Kankakei Gorges

Take a boat tour or hike through the Oboke and Koboke Gorges, located in Tokushima Prefecture. The gorges offer impressive rock formations and scenic landscapes along the Yoshino River. Kankakei Gorge, nestled in the heart of Shodoshima in Kagawa Prefecture, also offers vibrant foliage and panoramic viewpoints during autumn.

Kankakei Ropeway Roundtrip Ticket | Kagawa (Can't Use on the Day of Purchase)

From S$18.12

Kankakei Ropeway Roundtrip Ticket | Kagawa (Can't Use on the Day of Purchase). (Photo: KKday SG)
Kankakei Ropeway Roundtrip Ticket | Kagawa (Can't Use on the Day of Purchase). (Photo: KKday SG)

12. Shikoku Aquarium

Learn about the abundant aquatic animals around Shikoku as the Seto Inland Sea surrounds it to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south.

Shikoku Aquarium Ticket

From S$11.15

Shikoku Aquarium Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)
Shikoku Aquarium Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)

13. Choshi Valley Monkey Kingdom Natural Zoo

The Choshi Valley Monkey Kingdom Natural Zoo is a unique wildlife sanctuary offering an immersive experience with Japanese macaques. Spanning lush forests, this natural habitat lets you observe the monkeys in their native environment, fostering conservation awareness and providing an enriching educational encounter with these charismatic primates.

Choshikei Osaru no Kuni (Monkey Country) Natural Zoo Admission Ticket | Kagawa

S$4.18

Choshikei Osaru no Kuni (Monkey Country) Natural Zoo Admission Ticket | Kagawa. (Photo: KKday SG)
Choshikei Osaru no Kuni (Monkey Country) Natural Zoo Admission Ticket | Kagawa. (Photo: KKday SG)

14. Cat Islands

Shikoku is also a haven for cat lovers as it is home to several cat islands like Sanagishima in Kagawa Prefecture, and Aoshima and Muzukijima in Ehime Prefecture.

A group of tabby cats on the bulwark at Muzukijima in Ehime Prefecture. (Photo: Gettyimages)
A group of tabby cats on the bulwark at Muzukijima in Ehime Prefecture. (Photo: Gettyimages)

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