Shikoku Island 四国

Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands

With its Mediterranean landscapes planted with olive trees along the Inland Sea of Japan (Setouchi), its mountainous landform, rice terraces, lush forests and long white sand beaches, Shikoku delights the senses. The island is also home to Japan's most famous pilgrimage route, Shikoku hachiju hakkasho, dotted with 88 temples. Discover this authentic island still rarely visited by tourists. 

The history of Shikoku Island

According to the Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters", collection of myths dating from 712) Shikoku is the third island in Japan created by the divine couple, Izanagi and Izanami.

Difficult to access and wild, it served as a refuge for members of the Taira clan (also called Heike) who hid there to escape the enemy Minamoto clan. But after the victory of the Minamoto in 1185, the island was divided into four fiefdoms (Shi means "four" and "koku" countries), all were ruled by a vassal of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder of Kamakura. The feudal era which followed favored the construction of splendid castles.

Naruto contains the first two of the 88 temples of the famous temples of Shikoku pilgrimage.

Naruto contains the first two of the 88 temples of the famous temples of Shikoku pilgrimage.

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A procession of dancers Awa Odori during the festival in Tokushima (Shikoku).

A procession of dancers of the Awa Odori during the festival in Tokushima (Shikoku).

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The culinary specialties of Shikoku

Shikoku cuisine is renowned throughout Japan. It abounds in fish and citrus fruits of all kinds and its rice cultivation is very developed. In addition, each prefecture has its own specialties.  

Ehime is known for its jakoten, a specialty of the city of Uwajima: a kind of fish pâté cut into rectangles then fried and eaten like a snack.

The prefecture of Kochi is famous for its katsuo no tataki, a bonito sashimi with grilled skin.  

Kagawa is famous for its udon, especially for its sanukidon, large wheat noodles served in a seaweed broth and soy sauce.

Tokushima, on the other hand, is known for its sudachi, a small citrus fruit that is harvested green for its acidic juice and which flavors many dishes, including soups.

Udon Noodles

Boiling udon noodles

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Katsuo no tataki

Katsuo no tataki, bonito sashimi

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What to see in Shikoku?

Between its long sandy beaches in the south, its mountain ranges, its rice terraces, its picturesque villages and of course, its temples, you should take at least several days to explore Shikoku.

The four great cities of Shikoku

  • Matsuyama: In addition to its feudal castle, Matsuyama-jo, the city is home to 8 of the famous pilgrimage temples and in its periphery. It is also home to Dogo Onsen, one of the oldest and most famous onsen in Japan.

  • Kochi: The city is famous for its castle built in the early seventeenth century. Its Sunday market (Kochi ichiba) offers local vegetables and freshly caught fish. Manga fans should not miss the Yokoyama Manga Museum.

Ritsurin Koen

Pond Ritsurin Koen.

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Iya Valley, Shikoku

Iya Valley, Shikoku

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