The smallest of Japan‘s four main islands, Shikoku is nestled between Honshu and Kyushu, the waters of the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean lapping at its shores. The island was once fairly cut off from the rest of the country, but the construction of three bridges connecting it to Honshu have made it much more accessible. It still maintains an air of mystery about it, however, and it’s a wonderful place to appreciate some of Japan’s most beautiful natural scenery and sacred sites.
The name Shikoku translates as ‘four provinces’ and true to its name, it is divided into four main districts: Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime and Kochi, with most of the island’s inhabitants living in their respective capitals. Outside the major cities, there are plenty of natural and cultural gems to discover. The island is split by a vast mountain range that runs east to west, characterised by beautiful valleys and clear rivers. Shikoku is also known for its rugged Pacific coastline and hot springs, making it an outdoor lover’s dream.
Those with an interest in Japanese history and culture will not be disappointed either with castles, temples, museums and galleries scattered across the island. It is also the site of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, a circular 1,200km route that takes in the 88 temples associated with Buddhist monk, Kukai, founder of the Shingon Buddhist sect.
The food here is some of Japan‘s finest; the ‘black current’ that runs past the southern coast provides incredible seafood and steaming bowls of its famous noodles never fail to disappoint.