Shikoku island where nostalgia meets simplicity


Shikoku island

Shikoku in Japan is famous for its 88 historic temples. The 88-temple route extends 1200km and is known by many pilgrims. Nowadays, you do not have to be a pilgrim yourself to walk the route as some tour operators offer a trip along a limited number of temples: sometimes by bus or sometimes partially walking.
Many stories has been written about this beautiful route. The Dutch writer Yvonne Schoutsen went the route almost entirely on foot in 2009. She published her diary as “The Magic of Shikoku”. (ISBN 978-90-90290-24-9)

Shikoku island by
However, recently tourists make their way to this relatively unknown island. One possible reason is probably that, in order to visit the really great places at Shikoku, you should go by car. In 2015, on our trip by car trip from Nagasaki to Osaka we visited this beautiful island.


Shikoku has 4 prefectures, each of them is know in a different way
– Ehime: Experience the nostalgia and spiritual aspects
– Kagawa: Experience the gentleness, simplicity and dicipline
– Tokushima: Experience tasteful, enlightment, pelgrimage
– Kochi: Experience dynamic nature, historical scenic and culinary appeal.


The highlights we visited at Shikoku were:

  • Uchiko
    Lovers of authentic Japanese streets and houses should certainly drop by Uchiko town. Uchiko (Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku) is a small village where one of the streets are kept in their original state. Along this street Yokaichi (八日 市, Yokaichi) are about 90 houses preserved to look the same as 100 years ago. Now, some of these houses are open to the public and used as a museum. The most impressive buildings are the Kamihaga Residence and the Uchiko-Za kabuki theatre.
  • Ritsurin
    Ritsurin Koen (栗林公園) is often suggested that it deserves a spot on the list of the “three most beautiful gardens of Japan”. Ritsurin Koen is a historical garden in Takamatsu City (Kagawa prefecture, Shikoku), built by the local feudal lords during the early Edo Period. Within Takamatsu city this garden is one of the main attractions. Ritsurin Koen along with Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen, Mito’s Kairakuen, and Okayama’s Korakuen are considered the best gardens in Japan.
  • Vine bridges
    Once, long time ago, the Iya Valley had 13 suspension bridges which were build out of vines (Kazurabashi). These bridges were important for people to bring goods safely to the other side of the Iya-gawa River. A few of these bridges still exist. Famous are the so called “couple” bridges because these are located almost side by side hidden deep down the valley across the river. They are known as the Oku-Iya Kazurabashi (奥祖 谷 二 重 か ず ら 橋).
  • Nagoro – village of the dolls
    Eleven years ago, Tsukimi Ayano (now 65+) returned to her home in Nagoro to take care of her father. However faced with this exodus from the village, she has populated the village of Nagoro with dolls, each representing a former villager. About 350 life-size dolls now reside in Nagoro to replace those who have died or left the village years ago. Since then this village became also known as Nagoro – Village of the Dolls.
  • Oboke & Iya Valley
    Oboke is a village at the banks of the Yoshino river. The area is know by rafters and tourboat operators. Visitors can enjoy the scenic views of rocks at the river banks. The length of the Yoshina river is about 194 km and its depth is normally 4 meters, however, it rises to approx 10 meters with heavy rain or after a typhoon.
  • Mnt Tsurugi
    Mount Tsurugi, meaning sword, is a 1,954.7-metre-high mountain on the border of Miyoshi, Mima and Naka in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan. This mountain is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains

How to get there

shikoku access map (Medium)


If you like to visit Shikoku by car you can start e.g. at Fukuoka or even Nagasaki and use the ferry from Beppu or Usuki at Kyushu to Yawatahama Port at SouthWest side of Shikoku island. From there drive across Shikoku to Kobe or Osaka and meanwhile visit many parts of this beautiful island.

Ferry information

  • Start in Fukuoka: then from Usuki or Beppu to Yawatahama Port by company “Uwajima-Unyu” ferries (in japanese language only), however, when using google translator it will be clear or download the pdf document for the time table. Boat reservations in advance are rarely needed, just make sure you will arrive 30 min prior departure to buy a ticket. It will take 2.5~3hrs to go across.
  • Start in Nagasaki: then you will need an additional ferry from Shimabara port to Kumamoto port by company “Kumamoto Ferries” (english page). Boat reservations in advance are requested but depending the season not strictly needed. Please read their website for full procedure. It will take approx. 1hr to go across.

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About Author

Travel Photographer, Writer/blogger & Planner for Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan & other Asian countries. Since 2001 he visited a number of Asian countries like Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan, Tibet and Nepal. There he enjoyed centuries of history and culture, local habits and beautiful locations. By this website he shares his experiences about these trips for a number of Asian countries to inspire other travelers.

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