Shikoku is the smallest islands of the major islands in Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu). This island is a hidden gem for the advance travelers who have been to Japan many times and it is also famous among the locals. The best way to do Shikoku Island is by self-driving with a rental car. Check out the top places to visit and top things to do, what to eat and where to stay.
If you like to see how Shimanami Kaido looks like without any unblocked view/bird view, it is really worth to come up to Kirosan/Mt Kiro Observatory Park. It is just half an hour drive from Imabari. At Kirosan Observatory Park, you get to see the spectacular world’s longest suspension bridge Kurushima Bridge and also those little islands around Shikoku.
Understand what is Shimanami Kaido島波海道?
Shimanami Kaido is a spectacular 60-70 kilometer road-and-bridge network connecting Japan’s main island of Honshu with Shikoku, passing over 6 small islands in the Seto Inland Sea 瀬戸内海. The starting point of Shimanami Kaido is in Honshu 本州 Island in Onomichi 尾道 city and end at Imabari 今治 City in Shikoku 四国 Island. Shimanami Kaido is truly an amazing route connecting Japan mainland Honshu with Shikoku.
Matsuyama city boost thousand years hot springs bathhouse called Dogo Onsen. Tourists flooded here to soak in the hot springs which are believed to cure disease and illness. What made the bathhouse stand out from the rest is, it has a special bath area dedicated only to the Imperial family.
Another famous thing to note in Matsuyama city is Botchan by Natsume Soseki who is the top novelist in Japan and his best masterpiece is called “Botchan”. Every Japanese has read “Botchan” novel during their school years. Natsume Soseki is so important that he also appeared in the 1000 Japanese Yen note. He was considered the most profound Japanese writer in the Japanese literature world. There is even a sweet called “Botchan Dango” and “Botchan Ressha” / Botchan Train named after his most famous novel. Do remember to try out the Botchan Dango sweet when you walk around in the shopping streets in your Japanese yukata/ bathrobe.
EXPERIENCE ONSEN, FUTON BED ON TATAMI FLOOR, THE SLIDING PAPER DOOR, RYOKAN DINNER IN YUKATA ROBE, MANGA CORNER & KARAOKE, ALL IN YUKAI RESORT DOGO SAICHORAKU AT MATSUYAMA CITY, EHIME PREFECTURE, SHIKOKU
Yukai Resort Dogo Saichoraku is Japanese style ryokan inn with onsen hot spring resort. You have the opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle such as sleeping on the futon /Japanese bed on the tatami mat floor. You will also see the Japanese paper sliding door with wood frame in your room. Japanese onsen bath is one thing you need to try but do watch out for the etiquette. Another thing worth mention here is you are able to experience most of the Japanese authentic dish in the dinner and breakfast.
The price including dinner is very affordable to the public. Click on the Yukai link to check out the price including dinner or without.
The yellow banner means – “Shiawase-san, Konpira-san” (しあわせさん、こんぴらさん) or “Mountain of Happiness, Konpira Mountain”.
There are 1368 steps up to Kotohira-gu/Konpirasan, the mountain of happiness. During Ethe do period, everyone is expected to visit at least once during their lifetime. Some who is unfit will send their dog to come up to do the pilgrimage for them so you see there are also many dogs visiting this shrine with their owner nowadays.
The best time to visit should be in Autumn – mid-Nov onwards, you also get to see the red maple leaves in the backdrop.
Ritsurin Garden is Japan’s largest Cultural Property Garden that has been handed down since 400 years ago. It is leisure to walk around these ponds and hills which were constructed beautifully. A wasen boat ride is another interesting way to explore Ritsurin Garden, you got to see a totally new perspective from walking the park’s path. No wonder this place is named as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty by the Japanese government.
When you are in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, you see udon shop in every corner even in the middle of rice paddies field.
If you are a budget traveler then udon won’t cost too much damage on your wallet. With only JPY 210 (USD 1.80) to JPY 600 (USD 5.30) you get to enjoy one of the best Sanuki Udon in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku Island, Japan.
Yashima mountain is one of the best spots to catch the sunset in Shikoku Island. It is only about 20 mins drive to Takamatsu city, which is a quiet and exclusive place for people who like to stay away from the crowd.
Bokaiso Hotel located at the top of Yashima mountain offer the breathtaking view of Seto Inland Sea. The room is extremely spacious and with sea view facing. The downside is there are no restaurants nearby so you may need to pre-book the in-house dinner or bring your own food up. Bakaiso is good for travelers who are driving so it is super exclusive.
Touring in the local supermarket is really an enjoyable thing you can’t miss in Japan. With the advantages of self-drive, we have the luxury to drive to the local neighborhood and shop like a local. You will be surprised at how cheap thing is in Japan.
If you happen to be in Shikoku Island or near Kansai area, Naruto is highly recommended. Go board on the Wonder Naruto Cruise ship and enjoy the sunshine and the unusual phenomenon.
The tide formation is really fascinating to see, the swirls and ripples can be quite hypnotic too. Besides that, you also get to enjoy the beautiful view of the Seto Inland Sea and the magnificent Onaruto Bridge.
Japan rest area offers more than toilet breaks or fills up with petrol. It even has unexpected facilities such as telescopes & Ferris wheels. The Awaji Rest Area is one of the famous rest areas that you cannot miss if you are doing a road trip from the mainland to Awaji Shikoku area.
Click on each link to read about the culture and what are the do and don’t in Japan. In many of the attraction, I have also included the top food that you must try. A good 3-5 days is more than enough to cover Shikoku Island.