I take you today to rediscover the Kagawa prefecture, which I really appreciate, located onshikoku island. Beautiful landscapes, reunions crossing swords and also a day’s work at a Udon noodle restaurant in the program !
TAKAMATSU, CAPITAL OF KAGAWA PREFECTURE
Head first to the city of Takamatsu, capital of Kagawa prefecture. We often think Shikoku is difficult to access but in fact it’s quite the opposite since it only takes an hour by JR train from Okayama to get to Takamatsu! So it’s easy to get there from Osaka or Hiroshima and the whole trip can be done by JR Pass.
The highlight of Takamatsu is undoubtedly the garden Ritsurin Koen which is considered by many to be the most beautiful in Japan. It is quite large and we nickname it “Ippo Ikkei” (“1 not 1 sight”) because we say that with each step we can enjoy a new landscape. Do not hesitate to enjoy a good Matcha tea at Kikugetsu-Tei, the tea pavilion in the heart of the garden.
A few tram stops from Ritsurin Koen, we find Busshozan, the historic district of Takamatsu. It dates from the 12th century and there is a large concentration of temples and shrines, including the Honenji which is really great to visit.
Another place to visit in Takamatsu, Shikoku Mura is an open-air museum dedicated to the island of Shikoku. There are several reconstructions of famous places on the island as well as Minka, traditional peasant houses that generally belonged to farmers, artisans or merchants.
Right next to Shikoku Mura is Yashima, a small mountain at the top of which stands the temple Yashimaji (84th of the 88 temples of the Shikoku pilgrimage) as well as a nice observatory appreciated for its sunset.
OGIJIMA, THE ISLAND OF BATTLE ROYALE
The next day I went to find out Ogijima, a small island of 2 km2 40 minutes from Takamatsu, known for being the island where the history of Battle royale.
The so-called Inland Sea of Japan Setonaikai has many islands which have suffered from the rural exodus but which in recent years have been revitalized thanks to the Setouchi Triennial, a contemporary art festival that takes place every 3 years on these islands. Ogijima was able to benefit from a new lease of life and that’s good because it’s a magnificent place, I fell in love here!
I invite you to discover the blog Ogijima run by David, a Frenchman who lives on the island and shares his tips.
KONPIRA SAN, MY FAVORITE PLACE IN KAGAWA
Then head to my favorite place in Kagawa: the city of Kotohira, known for its great sanctuary Konpira San which is THE must visit in the region. A Shinto complex that requires climbing 785 steps to the main building and 1368 to the top. We enjoy both a superb view but also a beautiful atmosphere with many shops on the road.
This is also where Nakano Udon Gakkou, a Udon noodle school that offers small lessons every day given by a granny who also appears in an episode of Detective Conan (episode 452: the ghost of Konpira).
I then spent the night at Kotohira Kadan, a Ryokan in the city with a nice atmosphere (18,000 yen or 150 € per night with breakfast) and eaten at Kasuga, an excellent Sushi restaurant behind Kotohira station.
A DAY WITH A UDON CHEF IN KAGAWA
The next day, I followed for a whole day Jiro San, the chef of a restaurant in Udon located in the main shopping street of Konpira San: Konpira Udon.
Udon noodles are a real institution in Kagawa Prefecture, it is really the pride of the region and the Japanese do not hesitate to travel for miles to come and taste the Kagawa Udon which are the best in Japan. .
RETURN TO THE SAGE
The next day, I finished this trip in style by going to see again Otani Sensei, the great master of Iaido and of Battodo which I had already presented several years ago in my video on Japanese martial arts. At the time, that gave him the idea of offering initiations in his dojo for French people coming from me and I’m happy to see that many were able to live this superb experience, especially since he does it for free, just for the pleasure of sharing his art.
I take this opportunity to remind you that you just have to go through its site by sending a message in English or Japanese: Otani Sensei website.
ZENTSUJI, THE TEMPLE CITY
Last visit of the trip: the city of Zentsuji which bears the name of its main temple. It is the most important of the 88 temples of the Shikoku pilgrimage because it is the birthplace of Kukai (Kobo Daishi), the founding monk of Buddhism Shingon (one of the most important currents in Japan) which is at the origin of this pilgrimage.
There you have it, this is where this very dense trip to Kagawa ended: it is each time a real pleasure to come back and enjoy the very relaxing atmosphere of the region! 🙂