The 4 provinces of Shikoku
Shikoku is the smallest and the least populated of the four main island of Japan. Honshu, the main main island to the north and the east as well as Kyushu to the west seem to embrace Shikoku. Only its south shore, that is wild, tough, and rough lies open toward the Pacific Ocean. Shikoku measures 18’800km2, 225km in length and up to 150km width with the highest elevation of 1’982m that is to be found on top of Ishizuchi san (Ehime). Approximately 220 people (out of the 4.5 million) share one km2 together (… in Osaka and Tokyo live more than 5500 people in the same area).
Tokushima (former Awa) prefecture is located in the eastern part of Shikoku. Abundant water flows from deep within the craggy mountainous area into the Yoshinogawa River. Vegetable farming is widespread, and in particular, sweet potatoes, sudachi citrus, and lotus roots are local specialties. At low tide, whirlpools in a variety of shapes and sizes audibly appear and disappear at the Naruto whirlpools, and Tokushima’s traditional summer dance festival, Awa Odori, boasts over 400 years of history. The southern part of the prefecture features one of Japan’s only surf spots, Kaifu Point, and there are several surf shops and schools with professional surfers located there. The sea turtle museum, Caretta, is located on Ohama beach, which is also where sea turtles come to lay their eggs in the sand every year from May to August.
to look out for: Naruto Whirlpools, Awa Odori Kaikan Hall, Bizan san, Akaishi Kaikyo Bridge
Kochi (former Tosa) prefecture faces the Pacific Ocean, in the south part of Shikoku. Surfers gather in the southeast part of the prefecture around Ikumi Beach in pursuit of fine waves. The atmosphere in Kochi is tropical, and the rate of annual rainfall is high. The warm climate is combined with vinyl greenhouses for year-round vegetables and flowers. Citrus fruits such as ponkan and buntan, large sour-sweet oranges, sweet fruit tomatoes, and local sushi topped with pickled vegetables handmade by farmers are all highly recommended local flavors. The bonito fishing industry is very prosperous and the local people consume the most bonito out of anyone in Japan. Kochi is the only place in Japan where freshly grilled bonito, katsuo no tataki, and other katsuo dishes can be enjoyed with a glass of locally brewed sake. The 196-km long Shimanto River is an excellent place to go kayaking or canoeing. The Ashizuri Peninsula, which faces the Pacific Ocean features many places to go whale watching (sometimes dolphins too!) and Kashiwa Island is an excellent spot to go scuba diving. Ashizuri Peninsula is located in the southwestern-most point of Shikoku and it’s not easy to access, but its appeal comes from its unspoiled natural beauty.
to look out for: Kochi Castle and Ryoma Sakamoto Museum
Ehime (former Iyo) is located in the central-northern part of Shikoku. Mandarin oranges and other citrus fruits, kiwi fruits, and chestnuts are widely cultivated, and the prefecture boasts the highest volume nationwide of farmed sea bream. Dogo Hot Spring is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan with approximately 3000 years of history. The symbol of the hot spring, the Dogo Hot Spring Main Building, is a designated Important Cultural Property and received three stars from the Michelin Guide! The Shimanami Sea Route connects Imabari city of Ehime and Onomichi in Hiroshima, and the route features superb views of the inland sea and its many beautiful islands. The old name of Ehime is Iyo, and the town of Ozu is known as the “Kyoto (old capital) of Iyo.” Ozu and Uchiko are both known for their streetscapes that recall another time, and have become more popular with overseas visitors in recent years.
to look out for: Matsuyama Castle, Museum of Ehime
Kagawa (former Sanuki) prefecture is located in the northeast corner of Shikoku, and also features 110 small islands of the Seto Inland Sea in its jurisdiction. In order to cope with limited water resources, more than 14,000 reservoirs have been built around the prefecture, and half of the agricultural water used in the prefecture comes from these reservoirs. One of the most famous local food products is Sanuki udon, with noodles made from high quality wheat and salt, and broth made from local seafood. Additional local specialty food products include soy sauce and olives. Naoshima island is a hotspot for contemporary art, and the Michelin three-star Japanese garden, Ritsurin Garden, located not far from Takamatsu Station, is visited by travelers from all over the world.
to look out for: Takamatsu Castle, Naoshima Island – Benesse Art Site, Ritsurin Garden
Agriculture is intensively used. In the eastern part of Shikoku you can find rice (that is usually cultivated twice a year, in the South), wheat and barley plants. Shikoku is also known for its delicious citrus fruits, persimmons, peaches, and grapes. Next to cereals, seeds, and fruits Shikoku also delivers a large variety of vegetables. The major river in Shikoku is called Yoshino River. It runs 196km from its source Ishizuchi san (west to east) towards Tokushima where it reaches the sea. Then there are four important capes. Gamoda (Anan, Tokushima), the easternmost point of the island. Sada (Ikata, Ehima) the westernmost point. Muroto & Ashizuri (Muroto & Tosashimizu, Kochi) the southernmost points and then there is Takamatsu (Kagawa) that is “last but not least” the northernmost point of Shikoku. And unlike the other three major islands of Japan, Shikoku has no volcanoes.