Known for the 88 temples in the Shikoku
pilgrimage route, Shikoku is also home to the Naruto
Whirlpools. Shimanami Kaido is also known as the
Nishiseto Expressway, it is a long toll road that
Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of
passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
Shikoku is the smallest island and consists of only four prefectures. Most of Shikoku is still largely untouched by mass tourism. This is a place of immense natural beauty, steeped in colorful legend and history, crowned with 88 pilgrimage temples. The island can be traveled to by the Shimanami Kaido road. Shimanami Kaido is a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. It is also known as the Nishiseto Expressway. The Kirosan Observatory has views of the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridges standing among hundreds of islands. These islands are beautifully scattered all over the Seto Inland Sea, creating a scenery unlike many others in the region. There is also a modern observation deck there for visitors to overlook the scenic route. It was cleverly designed and built halfway into the ground of the hillside, protecting the natural environment and scenery.
In the city of Takamatsu there is a historical village called Shikoku Mura Village, it is an open air museum situated at the base of Yashima. This pleasant hillside park preserves and exhibits traditional buildings and structures that have been relocated here from all over Shikoku Island. Ritsurin Park is one of Japan’s most beautiful landscape garden with a 100 years in the making. This spacious and beautiful park features many ponds, hills, trees, bridges, and pavilions. Many people have argued that the park belongs on the list as one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan. There are a number of walking routes throughout the park and provides views that would leave any guest satisfied.
The city of Naruto is known for its swirling tidal whirlpools, which are considered the third fastest whirlpools in the world at around 20 kilometers per hour. Naruto's Ryozenji Temple is the first temple of the famous Shikoku pilgrimage, which leads the pilgrims to begin their path on the island to visit 88 temples across Shikoku. These temples are associated with the famous Buddhist monk, Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. At each of the posts, the henro, or pilgrims, usually dress in white and can carry a walking cane as they travel along the routes to each of the temples. The pilgrims usually wear white, a color that represents death. Even the details in what the pilgrims wear have a symbolic representation to their spiritual journeys.
Shikoku’s most popular shrine is the Kompirasan (formerly the Kotohira-gu Shrine), located in the town of Kotohira. This is the main shrine of many Kompira shrines, which are dedicated to sailors and seafaring. This place is one of the most difficult shrines to visit due to visitors having to climb close to 800 steps to reach the main shrine. Visitors wishing to get the luxury experience can hire a palanquin to carry them up the steep hill for a price. Despite the difficult approach to the shrine, this is still one of the most popular shrines in all of Shikoku. Oboke Gorge is located within the Iya Valley in Shikoku and is one of the top outdoor activities destinations in Japan. One of the most popular activities for guests visiting the area is riding one of the Oboke Gorge boat rides. Visitors that are not interested in the strenuous outdoor activities, such as hiking or rafting, can instead enjoy a pleasant ride down the Yoshino River.
Please see below for tours that include Shikoku: