Shikoku is one of the four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) that make up Japan. The island is located between the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean. There are four prefectures located there: Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. Tokushima has close political, economic, and cultural ties to the Kansai region of Honshu, which includes cities like Osaka and Kyoto.
In recent years, three bridges spanning the Seto Inland Sea have created land routes between Honshu and Shikoku. One connects Kobe to the city of Naruto in Tokushima via Awaji Island on the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway (the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge). The second route connects Okayama Prefecture’s Hayashima with the city of Sakaide in Kagawa via the Seto-Chuo Expressway (the six Seto-Ohashi Bridges; this route also features a rail line).
The third connects Hiroshima’s Onomichi with the city of Imabari in Ehime via the Nishi-Seto Expressway (the three Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridges; this route is also accessible on foot or by bicycle). With the construction of these routes, travel between Honshu and Shikoku via expressway and railway (Seto-Ohashi Bridge) has become more convenient than ever before.
The Pacific side of the island, which consists of the portion located to the south of Shikoku’s mountain range that runs east to west, sees more than its share of rain, but the climate of the entire island is relatively warm.
There are plenty of wild and natural spots, scenic and historic places, and traditional festivals.
Naoshima, where nature and contemporary art coexist, Mt. Ishizuchi, one of the highest peaks in West Japan and a popular destination for hikers, the Naruto whirlpools, one of the largest whirlpools in the world, the thatched traditional house known as Chiiori which is located in the Iya valley, known as one of the three most remote places in Japan and the place where the defeated Heike warriors took refuge at the end of the 12th century, the Shimanto River which is called Japan’s last clear stream where local people enjoy river recreation., Kompira Shrine which is home to the god of the sea, Dogo Hot Spring which is one of Japan’s oldest hot springs with several thousand years of history,
Awa Odori summer festival which attracts 1.3 million people annually, Kochi prefecture’s summer Yosakoi festival which attracts 1 million people, Kochi’s outdoor Sunday Market which is one of Japan’s largest, and many many other attractions are what make up Shikoku.
There are lots of unique traditional foods made with the abundant produce from land and sea. Sanuki udon is made with wheat noodles and a soup stock made from soy sauce and seafood.
Tai meshi is made by cooking rice together with a whole sea bream. Tokushima ramen has a thick, rich broth made from pig and chicken bones. Katsuo no tataki is made by grilling the surface of raw bonito tuna and is served with a variety of strong-tasting accompaniments including slices of raw garlic, green onions, and ginger. Each region has its own unique local dishes, and the variety of tastes is a joy to explore.
One highly recommended experience for visitors to Shikoku is the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. The Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage is made up of places where Kobo Daishi (774 – 835), one of the greatest figures in Japanese Buddhism, studied and trained. The religious journey is said to impart travelers with blessings and religious merit, and it’s also a great way to enjoy the sights of Shikoku. The journey around the island to all 88 temples is approximately 1450 km long. Long ago, walking the entire Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage took 40 – 50 days, but now many people spend a single day visiting several temples, taking a bus or taxi to make the trip as efficiently as possible. Pilgrims can use whatever method suits their individual situations.
See the grandeur of Shikoku’s nature, encounter buildings steeped in history and tradition, explore streets and festivals, taste the blessings of the land, experience local cuisine, and get to know Shikoku in depth on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Surely a trip like this will leave you feeling fulfilled and happy, with a sense of being healed and renewed. Come experience the wonders of Shikoku that the local people have nurtured and valued for thousands of years.