Exploring Kagawa

This week in Exploring Japan, we return to Shikoku for a second time with Kagawa prefecture.

Kagawa is situated on the northern part of Shikoku island, and is on the Seto Inland Sea.  It’s population is 995,465, having dropped from over 1 million.  The capital is Takamatsu.  The 5 largest cities are:

  1. Takamatsu (419,429)
  2. Marugame (110,550)
  3. Mitoyo (68,512)
  4. Kan’onji (63,721)
  5. Sakaide (55,621)

As with most prefectures with small populations, the overall population is dropping.  However, both Takamatsu and Marugame are growing.

Castles

Marugame Castle is one of Japan’s 12 original castles.  Most of the buildings didn’t survive, but the keep is original, and the walls are impressively large.

Takamatsu Castle is currently under construction.  The main keep is being reconstructed, and some of the other buildings have been restored.

Things to see and do

I wasn’t very familiar with Kagawa, other than the fact that it’s on Shikoku, and there’s a famous 88 temple pilgrimage through the island.  Some of them can be found in Kagawa.

Takamatsu is the largest city on Shikoku.  Probably the biggest attraction is Ritsurin Garden, considered to be one of the best in Japan.  Tamamo Park seems good, too.  It’s the location of Takamatsu Castle. The Kagawa Museum shows a lot of information about Kagawa’s history. Takamatsu Symbol Tower has observation decks and a shopping mall. Nearby Yashima has several things to do, as well.  There’s Yashimaji Temple and its museum, Yashima Shrine, and New Yashima Aquarium. Shikokumura is an open-air museum with old houses from around Shikoku, as well as some western art. Tamamo Breakwater seems like a nice place for a walk, and it has a lighthouse. The two biggest festivals are Sanuki Takamatsu Festival in summer and the Winter Festival with Christmas decorations.

At Kan’onji, you can see the Zenigata Sunae, a large coin sculpture, which is easily visible from Kotohiki Park.

Kotohira is a small town, but it has some great things to see. Kotohira Shrine, or Konpira-san, is a large shrine complex, the largest in Shikoku. Kanamaru-za is Japan’s oldest Kabuki playhouse. There are several museums, including the Kinryo Sake Museum, Marine Science Museum, and the Museum of History.  You can also enjoy Konpira Onsen (hot springs).

In Marugame, apart from the castle, there are some things to do.  You can see the Nakazu Banshoen Marugame Museum of Art and New Reoma World Amusement Park. Marugame also produces 90% of Japan’s uchiwa (fans).

Sanuki is a small city in Kagawa that has the final temple of the 88 temple pilgrimage, Okubo-ji. A couple other well-known temples are Shido-ji and Nagao-ji.

Zentsuji is named after the temple, Zentsuji. The temple seems quite impressive.  The city is also where cubic watermelons were developed.

Shodo-shima is an island in the Seto Inland Sea with a few things to see, including the Kanka Gorge, a miniature version of the 88 temple pilgrimage, olives, monkeys, beaches, and soy sauce.

Naoshima is an island town with many museums developed by Benesse Corporation. These include the Chichu Art Museum, Benesse House, and the James Bond Museum.

Megijima is an island with an observation platform and some popular caves.

Ogijima is a small, mountainous island that was the basis for Battle Royale. One major feature is the lighthouse.

Food

Kagawa is very famous for udon noodles.  In particular, Sanuki Udon is the local specialty.  It’s a bit firmer than usual udon, and is named after Kagawa’s old name, Sanuki Province.

Have you visited Kagawa? Have I missed anything?  Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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4 Comments

Filed under Japan, Kagawa

4 responses to “Exploring Kagawa

  1. Yeah! Kagawa, finally! 🙂

    To answer your questions, yes I have visited Kagawa 😉 (for those who don’t know me and who read this, I live here and I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Japan).
    As far as what you have missed, I’d say that the main thing if the Setouchi Triennale that takes place every three years (this year is the year) and that is quickly becoming the largest art even in Japan (1 million visitors are expected this year).

    A few extra details:
    Takamatsu Castle: they have finished to restore the keep and I’m not sure whether they’ll rebuild the main tower or not. I thought they would, but construction seems to have come to an end, so I’m not too sure. The castle (and Tamamo Park, i.e. the castle’s grounds are worth a visit though, it’s a nice garden and it has a few nice buildings).

    Zentsu-ji (the temple) is indeed impressive. It is the largest temple from the Shikoku Pilgrimage (as well as Kobo-daishi’s birthplace) and while it’s not as impressive as Kyoto’s famous temples, it’s not far beyond.

    The islands have many many many more things to see, I think they really are the hidden jewels of Kagawa and (shameless plug) I advise you to check out my blog for more details. 🙂

    (small correction about Naoshima: There is no such thing as the Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum. What you meant is the Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Fundation that depends on Benesse and that administers Naoshima’s art museums (Benesse House, Chichu Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, the art house projects, the brand new Ando Museum, etc).
    Also note that the James Bond Museum is not part of them. I believe it’s independently run (I have yet to visit it).

    Cheers. 🙂

    • Thanks, David! I was hoping you’d reply. Great information. I’ll make that correction right away. Sometimes, the internet doesn’t give the correct information.

  2. This was fun…really enjoyed it. I loved exploring the various links. Wish I was there. I’ve seen pictures of many beautiful gardens, but none ever speak to me the way Japanese gardens do.

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree. There are so many beautiful gardens in Japan. They’re incredible. If you haven’t done so, you can also check past Exploring Japan posts. There’s more!

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