Kagawa Travel Guide: Top 33 Things to Do in Kagawa, Japan

Situated in the northeastern part of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, Kagawa Prefecture, also lovingly known as the “Udon Prefecture”, offers visitors a rich tapestry of experiences that range from gastronomical delights to historical wonders and scenic beauty. Whether you’re a passionate foodie, a nature lover, an art enthusiast, or a history buff, Kagawa’s multifaceted charm promises an unforgettable journey. Let’s delve deep into this enchanting corner of Japan and uncover the treasures that await.

Geography and Climate

Kagawa, the smallest prefecture in Japan by land area, is blessed with a diverse geography that includes coastal lines, mountain ranges, and valleys. The prefecture faces the Seto Inland Sea, resulting in a rather mild climate. Unlike the extreme temperatures in some other parts of Japan, Kagawa enjoys relatively mild winters and warm summers. This temperate climate not only makes it a pleasant destination for tourists throughout the year but also nourishes the lush landscapes and terrains of the region.

Historical Significance

Kagawa’s history is deeply rooted in ancient Japan. One of its prime historical sites, the Kotohira-gu Shrine, also popularly known as Konpira-san, has been a pilgrimage site for centuries. Located halfway up Mount Zozu, the shrine is dedicated to sailors and seafaring. As you tread the stone steps leading up to the shrine, you not only embark on a spiritual journey but also travel back in time, with each step revealing a piece of Japan’s rich past.

Another historical gem is the Shikoku Village, an open-air museum that showcases traditional houses and architectural wonders from the entire Shikoku region. Walking through this village offers a glimpse into the bygone era of Japan.

Culinary Delights

If there’s one thing you can’t miss in Kagawa, it’s their signature dish: Sanuki Udon. These thick, chewy noodles, often served in a delicate broth with various toppings, are a culinary representation of the region’s soul. Apart from udon, Kagawa also boasts fresh seafood, thanks to its proximity to the Seto Inland Sea. The olives of Shodoshima, another specialty, give rise to a variety of products including olive oil, which is a must-try.

Artistic and Cultural Flourishes

Kagawa, especially the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, plays host to the Setouchi Triennale, an international art festival. The islands, including Naoshima, Teshima, and Inujima, are dotted with contemporary art pieces, museums, and installations, often blending seamlessly with the natural beauty of the region.

In addition, Kagawa’s traditional crafts, such as Sanuki lacquerware and Marugame uchiwa (hand fans), reflect the delicate artistry and meticulous craftsmanship of its artisans.

Natural Beauty

From the picturesque Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, often hailed as one of Japan’s finest gardens, to the serene landscapes of Shodoshima with its olive groves and the tranquil Kankakei Gorge, Kagawa is a haven for those seeking nature’s solace. The cycling route across the Shimanami Kaido, connecting several of the Seto Inland Sea islands, offers breathtaking coastal vistas and is a must for adventure enthusiasts.

Kagawa, while small in size, is monumental in its offerings. It invites you to partake in a journey where every turn holds a new story, every dish narrates centuries-old traditions, and every vista captures the heart. So, pack your bags and let Kagawa’s magic weave its spell around you.

Kagawa Travel Guide: Things to do in Kagawa, Japan for Visitors

Kagawa City Guide: A Brief History Of Kagawa, Japan For Visitors

Kagawa Prefecture, a name that resonates with ancient traditions, vibrant cultures, and tales of yore, stands as a testament to Japan’s rich history. To truly appreciate the beauty and charm of Kagawa, one must delve into its historical tapestry that spans millennia. Let’s embark on this journey through time, tracing the footsteps of Kagawa’s past.

Early Beginnings: Jomon to Yayoi Period (c. 14,000 BC – 300 AD)

The story of Kagawa begins in the distant Jomon period, evidenced by the numerous archaeological sites scattered across the region. Excavations have revealed pottery, tools, and remnants of early settlements, providing a glimpse into the hunter-gatherer societies that once thrived here.

Transitioning into the Yayoi period, the region witnessed significant advancements, particularly in rice cultivation. This period marked the establishment of more permanent settlements and the growth of a class-based society, laying the foundations for future kingdoms and empires.

The Asuka and Nara Periods (592-794 AD)

With the introduction of Buddhism to Japan during the Asuka period, Kagawa, like much of the country, saw the construction of temples and religious institutions. This was also a time when Chinese influence permeated many aspects of Japanese culture, from art to governance, leaving a lasting imprint on the region’s cultural landscape.

The Heian Period (794-1185 AD)

The Heian period was characterized by the blossoming of Japanese literature, arts, and culture. While the imperial court in Kyoto experienced cultural affluence, the influence of local clans in regions like Kagawa grew. The emergence of these regional powers set the stage for the subsequent feudal era.

The Kamakura and Muromachi Periods (1185-1573 AD)

These periods were marked by political unrest and the rise of samurai clans. In Kagawa, regional clans jostled for power and influence. The shifting allegiances and conflicts of this era played a significant role in shaping the political landscape of the region.

The Edo Period (1603-1868 AD)

The Edo period ushered in a time of relative peace under the Tokugawa shogunate. During this time, Kagawa saw growth in commerce, arts, and culture. The province flourished as a key hub for the udon wheat noodle, leading to its modern moniker, “Udon Prefecture.” The iconic Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, designed during this period, stands as a beautiful relic of the era’s landscape architecture.

The Meiji Restoration and Modern Era (1868 onwards)

The Meiji Restoration marked the end of the shogunate and the return of imperial rule. Kagawa, like the rest of Japan, underwent rapid modernization. Infrastructure, governance, and education systems evolved, propelling the region into the modern era. During the 20th century, particularly after World War II, Kagawa transformed into an industrial and cultural hub.

Cultural and Historical Signposts

  1. Kotohira-gu Shrine (Konpira-san): This ancient Shinto shrine, dedicated to sailors and sea navigation, stands as a reminder of Kagawa’s deep ties with the Seto Inland Sea.
  2. Shikoku Pilgrimage: Kagawa is part of the famous 88 Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage route, underscoring its religious significance.
  3. Marugame Castle: One of Japan’s twelve original castles, Marugame Castle offers a peek into Kagawa’s feudal past.

Kagawa’s history is a mesmerizing blend of culture, politics, religion, and commerce. From ancient pottery fragments to majestic castles, every corner of this prefecture whispers tales from the annals of time. As you traverse its landscapes, let the stories of bygone eras guide you, enriching your experience of this remarkable Japanese gem.

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Top 33 Things To Do in Kagawa, Japan For Visitors

  1. Visit Ritsurin Garden: A sprawling landscape garden in Takamatsu, it is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. The serene koi ponds, meticulously manicured trees, and seasonal flora are perfect for a tranquil stroll.
  2. Kotohira-gu Shrine Pilgrimage: Commonly known as Konpira-san, embark on a spiritual journey up 1,368 stone steps to this mountain shrine dedicated to sailors and maritime safety.
  3. Savor Sanuki Udon: Dive into the gastronomic world of Kagawa by trying the famous Sanuki Udon, a delicious noodle dish symbolic of the region.
  4. Stroll around Marugame Castle: Visit one of the twelve original castles of Japan. Its stone walls and panoramic views of the city are captivating.
  5. Art Exploration at Naoshima: Known as Japan’s “Art Island”, Naoshima boasts contemporary art museums, sculptures, and installations, blending nature and artistry.
  6. Cross the Seto Ohashi Bridge: A marvel of engineering, this bridge connects Kagawa on Shikoku Island to Okayama on Honshu.
  7. Visit the Shikoku Mura Village: An open-air museum in Takamatsu, it showcases traditional architecture and artifacts from the Shikoku region.
  8. Cycle the Shimanami Kaido: An exhilarating cycling route connecting the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, it offers unparalleled coastal views.
  9. Tour the Olive Gardens of Shodoshima: Learn about olive cultivation, sample products, and enjoy the Mediterranean ambiance of these gardens.
  10. Experience the Setouchi Triennale: An international art festival held every three years, it features contemporary art installations on the islands of the Seto Inland Sea.
  11. Discover the Zenigata Sand Coin: Located on Kotohiki Beach in Kanonji City, this gigantic sand coin is a fascinating ancient geoglyph.
  12. Soak in Angel Road: Visit Shodoshima Island during low tide to walk along this sandbar path, believed to bring blessings in love.
  13. Delight in Takamatsu’s Shopping Street: Shop, eat, and enjoy local culture in this bustling street full of specialty stores and eateries.
  14. Explore the Megijima and Ogijima Islands: Known for their art installations, caves, and beautiful sceneries, these islands are perfect for day trips.
  15. Attend the Yashima Lantern Festival: Experience the magic of hundreds of lanterns lighting up the Yashima plateau every August.
  16. Visit the Tamamo Castle Ruins: Located in Takamatsu, these castle ruins by the sea are steeped in history.
  17. Relax at Mito Beach: A pristine beach in Mitoyo with crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
  18. Explore Kankakei Gorge: A scenic gorge on Shodoshima Island, it’s known for its autumn foliage and the Kankakei Ropeway, offering mesmerizing aerial views.
  19. Discover Wasanbon Sugar Village: Learn about the traditional production of Wasanbon, a fine-grained sugar essential for Japanese sweets.
  20. Take the Ferry from Takamatsu to Uno: Enjoy scenic views during this short ferry ride, connecting Kagawa to the mainland.
  21. Marvel at the Iya Valley Vine Bridges: Although located slightly outside Kagawa in Tokushima, these vine bridges offer a unique and adventurous crossing experience.
  22. Learn at the Sanuki Kid’s Kingdom: Perfect for families, this educational park offers interactive exhibits about nature and science.
  23. Join the Udon Taxi Tour: A unique culinary experience, take a taxi tour to the best udon restaurants in Kagawa.
  24. Wander the Historical Streets of Mure: Experience old-world charm in this town famous for its artists and traditional homes.
  25. Admire Art at the Benesse House Museum: Located in Naoshima, it combines a museum with a hotel, offering art displays in a relaxing setting.
  26. Hike the Mountains of Kagawa: The prefecture offers several hiking trails, including the ascent to Mt. Ryuo and Mt. Shiramine.
  27. Experience Kagawa’s Festivals: From the Sanuki Takamatsu Festival to the Marugame Chagenkyo Matsuri, immerse in local culture and festivities.
  28. Sample Shoyu in Shodoshima: Home to traditional soy sauce production, tour the factories and sample this essential Japanese condiment.
  29. Visit the Nakazu Banshoen Garden: A beautiful Japanese garden in Marugame, known for its traditional tea houses and moon-viewing pavilion.
  30. Explore the Great Seto Bridge: Walk or cycle parts of this extensive bridge system, and marvel at the engineering feat.
  31. Attend a Traditional Tea Ceremony: Experience the serene ritual of a Japanese tea ceremony in one of Kagawa’s traditional tea houses.
  32. Tour the Zentsu-ji Temple: Located in the town of Zentsuji, this temple is the birthplace of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism.
  33. Shop for Marugame Uchiwa and Kagawa Lacquerware: Don’t leave without purchasing these traditional crafts that capture the spirit of Kagawa.

With its harmonious blend of history, culture, nature, and gastronomy, Kagawa offers a diverse range of experiences for visitors. Dive deep into its wonders, and let each moment in this enchanting prefecture become a cherished memory.

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What To Eat and Drink in Kagawa, Japan

Kagawa Prefecture, often referred to as the “Udon Prefecture,” is a gastronomic paradise that seamlessly melds ancient culinary traditions with modern tastes. From the chewy strands of Sanuki Udon to the fresh catches of the Seto Inland Sea, Kagawa promises a symphony of flavors that caters to both the curious traveler and the discerning food connoisseur. Let’s embark on a culinary odyssey through this region.

1. Sanuki Udon

  • Description: Thick, chewy wheat noodles typically served in a simple broth with various toppings.
  • Must-Try Variations: “Kamaage Udon” (noodles served with hot dipping broth) and “Bukkake Udon” (cold noodles with a pour-over sauce).
  • Pairing: Often enjoyed with tempura toppings like shrimp, vegetables, or “kakiage” (a mixed tempura fritter).

2. Seafood from the Seto Inland Sea

  • Description: Given its coastal location, Kagawa boasts a rich array of seafood.
  • Must-Try: Fresh sashimi platters, “Tai Meshi” (red snapper rice), and grilled or steamed shellfish.

3. Olive Cuisine

  • Description: Shodoshima Island in Kagawa is famous for its olives, and various dishes incorporate olive oil and fresh olives.
  • Must-Try: Olive ramen, olive beef, and bread made with olive oil.

4. Shoyu (Soy Sauce)

  • Description: Traditional soy sauce brewed using age-old methods, particularly famous in Shodoshima.
  • Must-Try: Dishes seasoned with locally brewed shoyu or even shoyu ice cream.

5. Wasanbon

  • Description: A high-quality, fine-grained sugar used primarily in traditional Japanese confectionery.
  • Must-Try: Traditional sweets like “wagashi” or simply savoring a spoonful of this sweet delicacy.

6. Hishio

  • Description: A traditional fermented seasoning similar to soy sauce but made from barley or rice.
  • Must-Try: Used as a dressing for vegetables or mixed into dishes for a unique flavor profile.

7. Sudachi

  • Description: A citrus fruit similar to lime, used as a flavor enhancer.
  • Must-Try: Freshly squeezed over sashimi, grilled fish, or incorporated in desserts and drinks.

8. Sake

  • Description: Japanese rice wine, with several breweries in Kagawa producing their distinct flavors.
  • Must-Try: Sample sake at local breweries or order a glass at an “izakaya” (Japanese pub).

9. Citrus Drinks and Shochu

  • Description: Shikoku, including Kagawa, is known for its variety of citrus fruits which are used to flavor local shochu (a distilled spirit) and make refreshing drinks.
  • Must-Try: Sudachi shochu, yuzu liqueur, and citrus-infused cocktails.

10. Local Craft Beer

  • Description: The craft beer scene has been blossoming in Japan, and Kagawa has joined the trend.
  • Must-Try: Local brews often incorporating regional ingredients for a distinct taste.

11. Chicken Donburi

  • Description: A rice bowl dish topped with succulent chicken pieces, often cooked in a savory-sweet sauce.
  • Must-Try: Opt for locally reared chicken for an authentic taste.

12. Gourmet Gelato

  • Description: Modern establishments often infuse traditional flavors into creamy gelatos.
  • Must-Try: Wasanbon, yuzu, or matcha gelato.

13. Iced Sudachi Soba

  • Description: Cold buckwheat noodles served with a sudachi-infused dipping sauce — a refreshing summer delicacy.

Dining in Kagawa is more than just a meal; it’s an experience that ties together the land’s history, its people, and the bountiful gifts of nature. Each dish, from a humble bowl of udon to the intricate flavors of wasanbon sweets, narrates a tale of tradition and innovation. So, when you find yourself in Kagawa, don’t just eat; savor, relish, and let every bite transport you through the rich tapestry of this culinary haven.

source: The Food Ranger on YouTube

Top Restaurants In Kagawa, Japan

Kagawa’s culinary landscape is deeply rooted in tradition while also embracing modernity and innovation. The prefecture’s restaurants offer everything from time-honored recipes passed down through generations to contemporary interpretations of classic dishes. Here’s a curated list of top restaurants you should consider during your visit to Kagawa.

1. Nakano Udon School

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Specialty: Sanuki Udon
  • Description: A unique establishment where you can both learn to make your own udon noodles and then enjoy your hand-crafted dish. It’s an immersive way to appreciate Kagawa’s beloved Sanuki Udon.

2. Ippuku

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Specialty: Modern Udon
  • Description: Ippuku takes the classic Sanuki Udon and adds a modern twist, presenting udon in inventive ways that intrigue both the eyes and the palate.

3. Waraya

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Specialty: Udon
  • Description: A long-standing establishment, Waraya is loved for its simple yet incredibly delicious udon dishes, served in a rustic setting reminiscent of old Japan.

4. Udon Baka Ichidai

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Specialty: Udon
  • Description: The name translates to “Udon Idiot,” but it’s a haven for udon aficionados. The eatery champions the humble noodle in a delightful variety of ways.

5. Yasoba

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Specialty: Olive Soba
  • Description: A unique eatery that combines Shodoshima’s famous olives with buckwheat noodles, creating a flavorful fusion dish.

6. Morikuni Shuzo

  • Location: Shodoshima
  • Specialty: Sake Brewery and Cafe
  • Description: Apart from sampling and purchasing their locally brewed sake, visitors can also enjoy desserts, pizzas, and snacks, many of which are infused with sake or sake lees.

7. Teshima Shokudo

  • Location: Teshima
  • Specialty: Seasonal Set Meals
  • Description: Situated on the art-filled Teshima Island, this restaurant offers set meals crafted from locally sourced ingredients. The minimalistic design of the venue complements the art-centric nature of the island.

8. Shima Kitchen

  • Location: Teshima
  • Specialty: Local Island Cuisine
  • Description: Designed by artist Ryo Abe, the open-air establishment combines art, architecture, and gastronomy, serving dishes made from locally grown produce.

9. Kakiya

  • Location: Miyanoura, Naoshima
  • Specialty: Oysters and Seafood
  • Description: Located on Naoshima, the renowned “Art Island,” Kakiya offers delectable seafood dishes, with oysters being the star attraction.

10. Le Bourgeon

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Specialty: French Cuisine
  • Description: This upscale French restaurant provides a surprising and delightful contrast to Kagawa’s traditional dining scene, presenting gourmet dishes with a touch of local influence.

11. Ristorante Honda

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Specialty: Italian Cuisine
  • Description: Another testament to Kagawa’s diverse culinary offerings, Ristorante Honda stands out for its masterful Italian dishes, often incorporating local ingredients.

12. Olive Garden Shodoshima

  • Location: Shodoshima
  • Specialty: Mediterranean-inspired Dishes
  • Description: Set amidst olive groves, this restaurant offers dishes inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, using olives and olive oil from the island.

Kagawa, while known predominantly for its udon, boasts a dining scene that is varied and rich. Whether it’s diving deep into the world of udon at a traditional noodle house, enjoying fresh catches from the Seto Inland Sea, or indulging in world cuisines that have found a home in Kagawa, every dining experience in the prefecture is a journey in itself. Visitors are encouraged to explore beyond the guidebook recommendations and let the flavors of Kagawa guide their culinary adventures.

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Tours For Visitors To Kagawa, Japan

Kagawa, the smallest prefecture of Japan, often referred to as the “Gateway to Shikoku,” holds treasures that are waiting to be explored. With its blend of natural beauty, historical landmarks, and rich culture, there’s no better way to discover Kagawa than through guided tours that offer deep insights and curated experiences. Let’s delve into some recommended tours that visitors can undertake.

1. Sanuki Udon Noodle Making Tour

  • Description: Learn the art of making Sanuki Udon, the pride of Kagawa. This hands-on experience allows you to create your own noodles, guided by udon masters, and then relish the fruits of your labor.
  • Highlight: Personalized udon-making lessons, followed by a delicious meal.

2. Seto Inland Sea Island-Hopping Cruise

  • Description: Explore the picturesque islands of the Seto Inland Sea. The cruise often includes stops at art islands like Naoshima and Teshima.
  • Highlight: Admire contemporary art installations, museums, and natural beauty.

3. Shodoshima Olive Park Tour

  • Description: Discover the heart of olive cultivation in Japan, understand the olive oil production process, and enjoy the lush Mediterranean-like landscapes of Shodoshima.
  • Highlight: Olive tasting sessions and olive-based product shopping.

4. Ritsurin Garden Historical Walk

  • Description: Traverse the stunning Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, which dates back to the Edo period. Guides provide insights into its design, history, and cultural significance.
  • Highlight: Traditional tea ceremony experience amidst the serene beauty of the garden.

5. Takamatsu City and Castle Ruins Tour

  • Description: Explore the urban landscape of Takamatsu, visiting key historical sites, including the remnants of Takamatsu Castle.
  • Highlight: Panoramic views from the castle ruins and understanding the city’s evolution.

6. Shikoku Pilgrimage Temple Tour

  • Description: Although Kagawa houses only a fraction of the 88 temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, guided tours offer a deep dive into the spirituality, architecture, and history of these sacred sites.
  • Highlight: Personalized stories and rituals associated with each temple.

7. Kotohira-gu Shrine (Kompirasan) Pilgrimage

  • Description: A journey to one of Shikoku’s most revered shrines. The ascent involves climbing nearly 800 steps, but the view and spiritual ambiance make it worthwhile.
  • Highlight: The shrine’s treasure house displaying art, artifacts, and Kabuki memorabilia.

8. Soy Sauce Factory Tours in Shodoshima

  • Description: Shodoshima is renowned for its traditional soy sauce production. Tour ancient breweries, learn about the fermentation process, and taste different soy sauce varieties.
  • Highlight: Sampling and purchasing artisanal soy sauces.

9. Kagawa Pottery and Craft Tour

  • Description: Kagawa has a rich pottery and crafts heritage. Visit workshops, witness artisans at work, and try your hand at creating traditional Japanese ceramics.
  • Highlight: Hands-on pottery sessions with guidance from master craftsmen.

10. Setouchi Triennale Art Festival Tour

  • Description: Held every three years, this art festival transforms various islands in the Seto Inland Sea into immersive art spaces. Guided tours ensure you don’t miss significant installations and provide context to each artwork.
  • Highlight: Interaction with international artists and understanding contemporary art in a unique setting.

A tour in Kagawa is not just a sightseeing activity; it’s an immersion into a region rich with heritage, art, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, a history buff, an art lover, or simply a curious traveler, Kagawa has tours tailored to offer enriching experiences that will leave lasting memories. Embarking on these guided journeys ensures a deeper connection to the land, its stories, and its people.

Kagawa Prefecture Flag In Japan

Kagawa Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Kagawa with its serene landscapes, art-infused islands, and culinary delights, offers a diverse range of accommodation options. From luxurious retreats to cozy hostels, there’s a place to rest for every type of traveler. Let’s dive deep into Kagawa’s lodging scene.

Luxury Hotels

Setouchi Retreat Aonagi

  • Location: Matsuyama
  • Description: An architectural marvel designed by the renowned Tadao Ando, this hotel boasts only seven rooms, ensuring utmost exclusivity and privacy. With contemporary design, panoramic sea views, and top-notch amenities, it’s the epitome of luxury.
  • Highlights: Infinity pool, modern art installations, gourmet dining.

JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Description: This upscale hotel overlooks the Takamatsu Harbor and offers impeccable service, modern rooms, and a variety of dining options.
  • Highlights: Proximity to Takamatsu Station, rooftop bar with city views, extensive breakfast spread.

Traditional Ryokans

Yumoto Yashima

Dormy Inn Takamatsu

Mid-range Hotels

Takamatsu Tokyu REI Hotel

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Description: A contemporary hotel offering comfortable rooms, friendly service, and modern amenities.
  • Highlights: Proximity to shopping areas, on-site restaurant serving local and international cuisine.

Rihga Hotel Zest Takamatsu

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Description: Located in the heart of the city, this hotel is known for its cozy rooms and efficient service.
  • Highlights: Multi-cuisine dining options, walking distance to popular attractions.

Guesthouses and BnBs

Guest House Wakabaya

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Description: A renovated traditional Japanese house offering a homely atmosphere, shared kitchen, and communal spaces to interact with fellow travelers.
  • Highlights: Bicycle rentals, personal touches, and a short walk from Ritsurin Garden.

Uno Slope House

  • Location: Near Uno Port, ideal for traveling to Naoshima and other art islands.
  • Description: A cozy, artistically designed guesthouse, perfect for art enthusiasts exploring the Seto Inland Sea.
  • Highlights: Panoramic sea views, themed rooms, and a communal kitchen.


WeBase Takamatsu

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Description: A modern and chic youth hostel that emphasizes community interaction, cleanliness, and comfort.
  • Highlights: Spacious communal area, events and workshops, and bunk bed accommodations.

Tsumugi Hostel

  • Location: Takamatsu
  • Description: A laid-back hostel with a blend of modern and traditional elements, offering dormitory-style accommodation.
  • Highlights: Communal kitchen, lounge areas, and proximity to local attractions.

Kagawa, often overshadowed by its larger and more famous counterparts, holds a unique charm, and the same can be said about its accommodations. Whether you’re indulging in the lavishness of a luxury retreat, experiencing the age-old customs of a ryokan, or bonding with fellow travelers in a lively hostel, Kagawa’s lodgings offer experiences that go beyond just a place to sleep. Every accommodation tells a story, and as a visitor, you become a part of that narrative, weaving memories that last a lifetime.

Kagawa Ocean Views In Japan

Kagawa 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary

Kagawa, though small in size, packs a punch when it comes to attractions, culture, and culinary experiences. Here’s a comprehensive 3-4 day itinerary to get the most out of this delightful Japanese prefecture.

Day 1: Takamatsu Exploration


  • Ritsurin Garden: Start your day early with a visit to one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens. Explore its landscaped beauty, ponds, and tea houses. If you’re up for it, experience a traditional tea ceremony.


  • Takamatsu Castle Ruins: Wander through the ruins of this seaside castle, appreciating the moats filled with seawater.
  • Lunch at Ippuku: Dive into the world of Sanuki Udon, Kagawa’s famous noodle dish.
  • Shopping Street: Head to the covered shopping streets of Takamatsu, like Marugamemachi, for local crafts, goods, and snacks.


  • Sunport Takamatsu: Enjoy the scenic views of the Seto Inland Sea, watch the sunset, and witness the modern architecture of the symbolic Symbol Tower.

Day 2: Art Islands Adventure


  • Ferry to Naoshima: Depart early for Naoshima, the famous contemporary art island.
  • Chichu Art Museum: Delve into the underground art world with exhibits by renowned artists like James Turrell and Walter De Maria.


  • Benesse House Museum: Another must-visit art spot on the island, blending art, architecture, and nature.
  • Lunch at Shima Kitchen: A community project turned restaurant; enjoy local dishes amidst art.
  • Art House Project: Scattered across the island, these are abandoned houses transformed into art pieces.


  • Return to Takamatsu: Take the ferry back and perhaps try a different udon spot for dinner, like Waraya.

Day 3: Shodoshima Island Retreat


  • Ferry to Shodoshima: Embark on a journey to the second-largest island in the Seto Inland Sea.
  • Olive Park: Explore the park, witness olive cultivation, and maybe grab some olive-based souvenirs.


  • Kankakei Gorge: Ride the ropeway to witness breathtaking panoramic views of the gorge and the surrounding sea.
  • Lunch at a local restaurant: Try some local specialties like somen noodles or soy-sauce-based dishes.
  • Angel Road: Visit this unique sandbar that appears only at low tide and is said to be a lucky spot for couples.


  • Stay in Shodoshima: Book accommodation in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) or a guesthouse on the island for an authentic experience. Enjoy an onsen bath if your lodging offers it.

Day 4: History and Spirituality


  • Kotohira-gu Shrine (Kompirasan): Get ready for a hike! Ascend the 800 steps to this mountaintop shrine, dedicated to sailors and sea travel.


  • Lunch in Kotohira: Enjoy a local dish in the town.
  • Zentsu-ji Temple: One of the 88 temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, this temple, dedicated to Kobo Daishi, offers serene surroundings and intricate architecture.


  • Return to Takamatsu: Enjoy your last evening in Kagawa with a leisurely stroll in the city or dine in one of the recommended restaurants like Ristorante Honda for some exquisite Italian fare.

Kagawa, with its diverse offerings from art to nature, spirituality to culinary delights, ensures every traveler returns with memories and experiences unparalleled. This itinerary is just a glimpse of what this beautiful prefecture holds. Customize it based on your interests, and remember to always make time for unexpected detours and delightful discoveries!

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Kagawa?

Once you’ve soaked in the tranquil beauty and cultural richness of Kagawa, the surrounding regions of Japan offer myriad opportunities for further exploration. Depending on your interests and travel preferences, here are several diverse options to continue your Japanese journey post-Kagawa.

Okayama Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Kurashiki: Explore the Bikan Historical Area with its well-preserved Edo-period (1603-1868) buildings alongside a picturesque canal.
  • Korakuen Garden: One of the “Three Great Gardens of Japan,” this sprawling landscape garden is a delightful place to wander.
  • Okayama Castle: Often referred to as “Crow Castle” because of its black exterior, it’s a striking contrast to the usual pale-colored Japanese castles.

Hiroshima and Miyajima Island


  • Peace Memorial Park and Museum: A somber reminder of World War II’s atomic bomb devastation, the museum provides a deep understanding of the horrors of nuclear warfare.
  • Shukkeien Garden: A historical garden that offers peace and respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.


  • Itsukushima Shrine: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this shrine is renowned for its “floating” torii gate.
  • Mount Misen: Miyajima’s highest peak, offering panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea.

Ehime Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Dogo Onsen: One of Japan’s oldest hot spring resorts, it inspired the famous animated film, “Spirited Away.”
  • Matsuyama Castle: An original hilltop castle with its keep, it provides panoramic views of the city.
  • Shimanami Kaido: A scenic cycling route connecting islands over beautiful bridges across the Seto Inland Sea.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube


Key Attractions:

  • Dotonbori: An entertainment hub filled with restaurants, bars, and glowing neon lights. Try the famous street foods like takoyaki and okonomiyaki.
  • Osaka Castle: A historic structure offering a glimpse into Japan’s feudal era.
  • Universal Studios Japan: For a dose of entertainment and fun, visit this globally renowned theme park.


Key Attractions:

  • Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion): A Zen temple covered in gold leaf, reflecting beautifully on its surrounding pond.
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: A magical pathway surrounded by towering bamboo stalks. The nearby Tenryu-ji Temple and Iwatayama Monkey Park are worth a visit.
  • Gion District: Experience the historical charm of Kyoto and, if fortunate, spot a Geisha or Maiko.

Tokushima Prefecture (Shikoku Island)

Key Attractions:

  • Awa Odori: If you’re visiting in August, don’t miss this traditional dance festival.
  • Naruto Whirlpools: Witness the massive, naturally occurring whirlpools in the Naruto Strait.
  • Iya Valley: A remote and picturesque region known for its scenic beauty and historic vine bridges.

Tottori Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Tottori Sand Dunes: The largest sand dunes in Japan offering a unique landscape. You can explore by camel rides or paragliding for a birds-eye view.
  • Uradome Coast: Renowned for its rugged cliffs, caves, and clear waters, it’s a perfect place for boating and beach relaxation.
  • Mizuki Shigeru Road: A must-visit for manga enthusiasts, this street celebrates the creations of manga artist Mizuki Shigeru with over 100 bronze statues.

Hyogo Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Himeji Castle: A UNESCO World Heritage site, often referred to as the “White Heron Castle” due to its pristine white exterior and architectural magnificence.
  • Arima Onsen: One of the oldest hot spring resorts in Japan, nestled amidst the Rokko Mountain range.
  • Kobe: Try the world-famous Kobe beef in its birthplace. Also, visit the bustling harbor area, and explore the foreign residences in the Kitano district.


Key Attractions:

  • Canal City Hakata: A large shopping and entertainment complex, where you can find shops, cafes, restaurants, a theater, and even a canal running through it.
  • Ohori Park: A spacious park featuring a large pond, where you can rent rowboats or just enjoy a peaceful stroll.
  • Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine: A significant Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirit of Sugawara Michizane, a scholar, and politician.

Shiga Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Lake Biwa: Japan’s largest freshwater lake, offering various water sports, beaches, and scenic views.
  • Hikone Castle: One of the few original castles in Japan that remains intact and offers panoramic views of Lake Biwa.
  • Miidera Temple: A historic temple complex with numerous national treasures and important cultural properties.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Nara Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Nara Park: Home to over a thousand friendly deer, considered in Shinto to be messengers of the gods.
  • Todai-ji Temple: This temple houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. The temple complex itself is a marvel of architecture and history.
  • Kasuga-taisha: Nara’s most celebrated shrine is known for its lanterns, which have been donated by worshipers. Thousands line the pathways and are lit during the two annual lantern festivals.

Wakayama Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Koyasan (Mount Koya): A UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s the center of Shingon Buddhism, introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi.
  • Adventure World: A combination of an amusement park, safari, and aquarium, home to a large number of animals including pandas.
  • Shirahama: Known for its hot springs and beautiful white sand beach. The nearby Senjojiki rock formations shaped by erosion are also worth a visit.

Yamaguchi Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Akiyoshido Cave: Japan’s largest limestone cave offers an otherworldly experience with its vast underground landscapes.
  • Kintaikyo Bridge: A historical wooden arch bridge and an iconic symbol of the prefecture.
  • Shimonoseki: A coastal city famous for fugu (pufferfish) delicacies and the bustling Karato Fish Market.

Tokushima Prefecture (Shikoku Island)

Key Attractions:

  • Whirlpools of Naruto: Witness the impressive natural phenomenon of swirling whirlpools.
  • Iya Valley: A beautiful and remote region with picturesque scenery, hot springs, and historic vine bridges.
  • Awa Odori: Experience this dance festival in August, a significant cultural event drawing tourists from all over Japan.

Ishikawa Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Kanazawa: A historic city known for its districts, museums, and regional handicrafts. Don’t miss the beautiful Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s top three landscape gardens.
  • Noto Peninsula: Offers a beautiful coastal landscape and unique attractions like the Ganmon rock formation and terraced rice fields of Senmaida.
  • 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art: A must-visit for art enthusiasts, with a diverse collection of works by international and Japanese artists.

Aichi Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Nagoya: As the fourth-largest city in Japan, Nagoya boasts attractions like the Nagoya Castle, Osu Shopping Street, and the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.
  • Atsuta Shrine: One of Shinto’s most important shrines, it is said to house the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, a legendary sword.
  • Inuyama: A small city featuring the Inuyama Castle, one of Japan’s few original wooden castles, offering panoramic views of the Kiso River.

Gunma Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Kusatsu Onsen: One of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, known for its unique yubatake (hot water field) in the town center.
  • Tomioka Silk Mill: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this was Japan’s first modern silk factory.
  • Mount Haruna: An active stratovolcano offering recreational activities, scenic views, and the serene Haruna Shrine.

Iwate Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Hiraizumi: Formerly the administrative center of the northern realm, it’s home to Chusonji Temple and Motsuji Temple, both UNESCO sites.
  • Ryusendo Cave: One of Japan’s three great limestone caves, known for its deep underground lakes.
  • Sanriku Coast: A scenic coastal area offering rugged cliffs, beautiful beaches, and fresh seafood.

Kumamoto Prefecture

Key Attractions:

  • Kumamoto Castle: Although damaged in the 2016 earthquake, restoration efforts are ongoing, and it remains an iconic sight with its imposing stone walls and towers.
  • Aso Kuju National Park: Home to Mount Aso, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and the largest caldera.
  • Suizenji Jojuen: A picturesque landscape garden, perfect for a tranquil stroll.


Key Attractions:

  • Sapporo: The island’s largest city is known for its annual Snow Festival, Sapporo Beer Museum, and historical Clock Tower.
  • Niseko: Renowned worldwide for its powder snow, it’s a paradise for skiers and snowboarders.
  • Otaru: A port city with a nostalgic atmosphere, featuring a canal area lined with old warehouses, now converted into shops and restaurants.

After exploring Kagawa, the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re enticed by historical towns, natural wonders, cultural experiences, or modern cities, the surrounding regions offer treasures waiting to be uncovered. Each destination offers a unique facet of Japan, ensuring that the narrative of your journey remains captivating and ever-evolving.

Kagawa Temple Views In Japan

Kagawa Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Kagawa, the smallest prefecture in Japan, is a paradoxical blend of understated elegance and grandeur. Nestled along the Seto Inland Sea, this gem on Shikoku Island might be compact in size, but it’s bursting with unparalleled experiences. As our exploration of Kagawa draws to a close, let’s reflect on what makes this destination truly special and why it deserves a cherished spot on every traveler’s itinerary.

A Cultural Haven

From the serenity of the Ritsurin Garden, one of the most beautiful in Japan, to the spiritual echoes of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, Kagawa offers a journey through time. The delicate art of udon-making is not just about enjoying a meal; it’s an experience that speaks of the region’s history, its people, and their commitment to perfection. Kotohira-gu Shrine, a testament to the people’s piety, stands as a reminder of Japan’s intricate relationship with its past and the divine.

Architectural Wonders and Natural Beauty

Kagawa seamlessly melds the man-made with the natural. The Seto Ohashi Bridge, an engineering marvel, stretches across the azure waters of the Seto Inland Sea, connecting islands and cultures. Naoshima and Teshima, on the other hand, epitomize the union of avant-garde art, architecture, and nature’s splendor. The picturesque landscapes, from the terraced olive groves of Shodoshima to the scenic beaches, offer solace to the weary soul and inspire artists and poets.

Gastronomic Delights

It’s not just Sanuki Udon that makes Kagawa a culinary paradise. From the fresh seafood bounty of the Seto Inland Sea to the subtle flavors of traditional sweets and dishes, Kagawa ensures that every meal is a journey of discovery. The prefecture’s commitment to freshness and quality ensures that every bite is a tribute to the land and sea.

People and Festivals

The heart of Kagawa beats in its people. Their warmth, hospitality, and commitment to preserving their traditions while embracing the future make every interaction memorable. The festivals, from the boisterous dance parades to the lantern-lit evenings, are not just events; they’re a celebration of life, nature, and all things Kagawa.

A Gateway to Exploration

Kagawa’s strategic location makes it an ideal springboard to explore other parts of Japan. Whether it’s the neighboring prefectures on Shikoku Island or venturing farther to Honshu, Kagawa offers a gentle introduction to Japan’s multifaceted character.

To journey through Kagawa is to dance with history, culture, nature, and modernity. It’s an intimate waltz where every step tells a story, every corner unveils a surprise, and every interaction leaves an indelible mark on the heart. Kagawa might be modest in size, but its offerings are limitless, its experiences profound, and its allure timeless. As travelers, we seek places that not only show us something new but also make us feel, think, and connect. Kagawa does all this and more. It’s not just a destination; it’s an emotion, a story waiting to be lived, and a memory waiting to be cherished. Whether you’ve been there once or multiple times, Kagawa, with its gentle charm and profound depth, will always beckon you back, promising something new, something magical.

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