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