Takamatsu Japan – Takamatsu is a beautiful coastal city in Kagawa Prefecture. As a port city, it is one of the main access points to the famous Shikoku Island in Japan. It was spring when I visited this city and I was really amazed by the beautiful landscapes and the prevailing calm. Takamatsu is not a tourist destination (yet) and that’s a great advantage in my opinion. Even during cherry blossom season, I have never felt surrounded by tourists.
I really loved the time I spent in Takamatsu and this blog post is dedicated to all the places I liked visiting in that absolutely charming city. Let’s first see how you can travel to Takamatsu and where you can stay.
How To Get To Takamatsu?
Since Takamatsu is on Shikoku Island and I happened to be in Honshu Island, I thought it had to take a ferry to Takamatsu. I didn’t know that the Great Seto Bridge connects Okayama Prefecture and Kagawa Prefecture (where Takamatsu is). So to go to Takamatsu, you can simply take the train from the city of Okayama for example. The Marine-Liner Line will take you there in a little less than an hour for 1830 yen (about $17).
The train line will be covered by you JR Pass if you have one.
Where To Stay In Takamatsu?
If you’re looking for cheap accommodation, I recommend the Ten to Sen Guesthouse. It offers dorm beds and individual rooms at good prices and is conveniently located between the main train station of the city and the Ritsurin garden which we’ll talk about later.
However, it is one of the most popular hostels in the city so rooms often sell out fast. Like I always say, book early and you should be fine. 🙂
If you want to enjoy an authentic Japanese atmosphere, book a room at the great Kiyomisanso Hanajyukai ryokan. It is located on the hills surrounding the city and therefore offers great panoramic views of the entire city of Takamatsu.
It also has all the characteristic elements of a ryokan with tatami flooring and exceptional outdoor onsen that are ideal to relax after a long day of sightseeing. 🙂
The 7 Best Things To Do In Takamatsu
Book your tickets and your hotel rooms and let’s visit my 7 favorite attractions in Takamatsu!
- The Ritsurin Garden
- Takamatsu Castle
- The Ichinomiya Temple
- The Yashima Temple
- Kitahama Alley
- Ichigoya Sky Farm
- The Kotohira Shrine
1. The Ritsurin Garden
Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/hiuz4Fb4Z542
Entrance: 410 yen (~$4)
- December and January: from 7AM to 5PM
- February: from 7AM to 5:30PM
- March: from 6:30AM to 6PM
- April, May and September: from 5:30AM to 6:30AM
- June, July and August: from 5:30AM to 7PM
- October: from 6AM to 5:30PM
- November from 6:30AM to 5PM
Ritsurin Garden is the main attraction of Takamatsu City. Oddly enough, it is not listed as one of the 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan like the one in Okayama or in Kanazawa but it is just as magnificent.
I was lucky to visit it in spring so I was there for sakura season and it was absolutely magical. Ritsurin is a historic garden and its construction started in the 17th century. Over the years, it has been described as a “picturesque site” and more recently as an “exceptional landscape of Japan”. You (literally) get the picture when you visit it.
It’s a big garden so two hours would be ideal if you’d like to take your time and walk around it.
2. Takamatsu Castle
- Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/pW8kHCoaFgS2
- Entrance: 200 yen (~ $2)
- Opening hours: from 8h30AM to 5PM (East Gate) and from 6:30AM to 6PM (West Gate)
The Takamatsu Castle is probably the second must-visit attraction of the city. It was built in 1590 by the Mimura clan who were in power at the time. You can enjoy the castle’s beautiful towers, take a walk in the garden and even take a boat ride around the different buildings of the castle.
There’s also a park with many cherry trees where hanami is usually celebrated during the spring.
3. The Ichinomiya Temple
- Emplacement exact : https://goo.gl/maps/4Scq6Qmik4p
- Entrance: Free
There is a popular multi-site pilgrimage on Shikoku Island where pilgrims visit a total of 88 temples over a period of days and sometimes months. The Ichinomiya temple is the 83rd on the list of temples to be visited. Don’t be surprised to meet many pilgrims there. 🙂
Anyway, even if the pilgrimage is not part of your plans, you should visit this temple, it’s not a huge temple but it is very charming and gives off some good vibes.
I took a picture there that looks like the logo of this blog. The overlap of both the exterior and interior space in this picture wasn’t fortuitous. It conveys the main idea behind this blog where I am presenting you with ideas of great destinations while trying to portray the local culture behind each and every one of them. That pretty much sums up Asian Wanderlust. 🙂
Seeing all those pilgrims was intriguing and inspiring at the same time, so I decided to walk to the next temple of the pilgrimage, just for the sake of it. It was 15 km away so I walked for about 4 hours to reach the 84th temple on the list. If you’d like to try it for yourself, don’t forget to use Offline Maps to not get lost.
4. The Yashima Temple
- Emplacement exact : https://goo.gl/maps/81BR14WnwrA2
- Entrance: Free
So I get to the Yashima Temple which is the 84th temple of the pilgrimage. The first few kilometers to the temple were rather easy to complete and the city walk was very enjoyable. A little over an hour later, I realized that the Yashima temple was at the top of a mountain that surrounds the city. I didn’t give up, I bought two liters of water instead and went up the hill.
The road to the temple is not very complicated, has a few steps to climb and a few pebbles scattered here and there. You’re going to be crossing woods so I recommend you do this during the day. I really loved this trip and even if I was very tired when I finally got the temple, I don’t regret it at all and I recommend you try it too! At the top of the mountain, the beautiful Yashima temple was waiting to be discovered.
Yahsima Temple is an old temple that was built in 754 by a Chinese priest named Ganjin. Ganjin was, in a way, a missionary who had come to spread Buddhism in Japan. Anyway, the long way up the mountain ends with a very rewarding view on the whole bay.
This walk from the 83rd to the 84th Shikoku temple made me realize the difficulty of the pilgrimage and my respect for all the pilgrims who completed the entire circuit grew even bigger. The thing is, I came across two pilgrims * and seeing such motivation was very inspiring! 🙂
5. Kitahama Alley
- Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/JFjTCU3d41R2
- Opening hours: from 11AM to 10PM
Kitahama Alley is a very special place in Takamatsu. The old seaside warehouses there have been transformed into cafes and shops. The atmosphere is really unique and you can buy clothes and handicrafts or if you’re a retro-gaming fan, try their game room. Spending the afternoon in Kitahama was a really nice experience that felt different from other more “classic” places in Japan.
6. Pick And Eat Strawberries At Ichigoya Farm
- Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/7izsH2tMfys
- Entrance: 1600 yen (~ $14.5) for 40 minutes of strawberry picking
- Opening hours: from 10AM to 4PM
Let’s take a break and visit the Ichigoya farm, also called the Ichigoya Sky Farm. This farm grows organic greenhouse strawberries and from January to May, it holds open tasting sessions in the greenhouses! The concept is popular in Japan and is not limited to strawberries. You can find farms that grow oranges, peaches or apples depending on the region.
The Ichigoya farm charges 1600 yen or about $14.5 for a 40-minute access to the greenhouses. From there, strawberry picking (and tasting!) is unlimited and that’s what’s so great about it! I have tried twice and honestly, 40 minutes is more than enough to stock up on strawberries and 1600 yen is really cheap if you look at the price per pound in Japan. The owners explained to me that they could sell their strawberries at such a low price because they don’t have to pay for transportation costs so it is a win-win deal because it benefits the farm, the customers and above all, the environment! 🙂 #TripleCombo
What about the strawberries, you say? They are simply delicious, especially that the species grown is only found in Takamatsu. They call it Sanuki-hime, literally the princess of Sanuki, Sanuki being the name of a neighboring city.
7. The Kotohira Shrine
- Exact location : https://goo.gl/maps/uZVaJHbDyP32
- Entrance: Free
Last but not least is one of my favorite places in Japan. It’s the city of Kotohira which is several dozen kilometers from Takamatsu. If you take the train to Kotohira Station from Takamatsu Station, the trip will last about an hour.
You will get to a really charming village where you can enjoy a nice, relaxing walk. You won’t find many tourists around, mostly local people who come to visit the famous Kotohira shrine. You can walk along the beautiful streets of the city where you will come across many shops, incredible udon restaurants, a sake museum and more.
By the way, Japan’s biggest lantern tower is in Kotohira (takadoro). It was built in 1860 and is 27 meters tall! Here’s its exact location: https://goo.gl/maps/rC3xC9LQurA2
After your little walk around the city, you’re ready to climb the 1368 steps that will take you to the shrine. I have to admit the climb was tough, my quads and calves were killing me but it was worth it and I really recommend the trip. You’ll need at least half the day to enjoy the city and its surroundings.
Let’s wrap up this blog post with these beautiful pictures of Kotohira. This is the first Shikoku city I visit and I am already in love! By the way, let me know if you liked this blog post and what you thought of Takamatsu in the comments below.
I also recommend you visit Shodoshima which is a ferry hour away from Takamatsu Port. This island is particularly known for its olive trees but it also has other great places to visit. More info here: Shodoshima Japan.
For more on my adventures in Japan, you can also read these blog posts: Japan Travel Blog.
See you around,