Shikoku

Located a little out of the way, off the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu, Shikoku can be easy to skip over when planning a trip to Japan. It would be unfortunate to travel to Japan and then miss the chance to which boasts its own unique culture, scenery and cuisine. The rugged terrain of Shikoku, Japan’s fourth largest island, has managed to avoid much of the denser urbanisation or industrialisation as the rest of the nation. The resulting landscape is a treasure for the rest of Japan as Shikoku provides locals and visitors alike with much needed breathing space, clean air and nature.

Surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south, a prominent feature of this region is the coastline. The influence of this location enters the daily life of many locals in their work, but also heavily influences the diet and cuisine on offer. An abundance of seafood features heavily in the local diet and the regions some of the best beaches outside of Okinawa. 

Home to the ’88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku’ along the 1200 kilometre circuit, this region also attracts religious pilgrims pursuing natural beauty and spiritual understanding as they follow the path to visit the 88 designated sacred sites. It can take up to six weeks to visit all sites on foot, or the process can be sped up by joining a tour which will allow you to visit them all in around 10 days. If your goal is to visit 88, or just one of the sites, a visit to Shikoku will ensure you can slow down and enjoy the slower pace of life. 

Hiking and camping are popular activities around Shikoku, particularly in the mountainous regions of the island. There are plenty of hiking trails and camping grounds that can be accessed for those seeking some peace and quiet and to enjoy the outdoors. 

These days, Shikoku is connected to mainland Honshu by three bridges, the first only being connected in 1988. Each  of the bridges are tourist attractions in their own right due to the engineering achievements they demonstrate. Shikoku is a popular destination for cyclists as the roads of the region are less congested and provide the perfect path for enthusiasts to explore on two wheels. This is particularly so knowing that cyclists can access the island by riding across from Honshu along the Shimanami Kaido chain of islands connected by bridges which hop across the inland sea. 

Access to the island is also possible by ferry and air so there is no reason not to include this region in your travel plans. 

 

Highlight

  • Shikoku Pilgrimage
  • Naoshima, the Art Island (Kagawa)
  • Iya Valley (Tokushima)
  • Awa Dance Festival (Tokushima)
  • Shimanami Kaido Cycling Road (Ehime)
  • Dogo Onsen Village (Ehime)