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Takamatsu is developed over many years as a port town and located on Japan’s fourth largest island – Shikoku – and serves as the gateway to the Seto Inland Sea in the southwest of the country. The city was established during the Edo Period in the 17th century, and it retains much of its rich history in its surviving castles, ancient temples and traditional gardens. It’s also the traditional home of Japanese udon noodle making and the art of bonsai – both of which are still practiced in the city today.
The Ritsurin Park is the city's main tourist attraction. It is a beautiful and very large Japanese landscape garden built for the Sanuki and Sasuma lords and has been designated a Japanese National Treasure. Some of the garden's highlights include the Engetsu-kyo Bridge (primary symbol of the park), the Okedoi-no-Taki Waterfall, the 'Red Wall of Rocks', a lotus pond, a large number of Japanese pine trees including the turle+crane rock, as well as other impressive sights.
Where You are Dock
The Port is located on the Seto Inland Sea, which was designated as Japan's first National Park in 1934. The Inland Sea boasts gorgeous natural scenery, comprised of countless beautiful islands and an interweaving network of sea lanes between them. You could even say that it is the Japanese version of Alaska's Inside Passage. The famous Seto Ohashi Bridge, the world's longest continuous two-tiered highway and railway bridge, which connects the islands of Shikoku and Honshu.
Harbour and Sunport area
Takamatsu is a harbour city and the relatively new Sunport area has been built to show it off.
Takamatsu harbour sunport and lighthouse
Go to the 8th floor observation deck of the Sunport building and you’ll be able to see across the Seto Inland Sea. In the Sunport Tower building you’ll also find some good restaurants, coffee shops, clothes shops, and more.
Have a walk along the harbour area and you can see the regular passenger and car ferries sailing to and from the harbour. It is worth taking a walk along the harbour promenade to the red lighthouse, which sits on at the end of a long pier.
Get around
Rental bike
Takamatsu is a fairly walkable city and the downtown is pretty easy to navigate on foot, though a bicycle can improve things quite a bit; the city is just big enough where a bike is really the ideal mode of getting around. Luckily, it is extremely bike-friendly was designed with bike travel in mind. After even a short time in the city center it's hard to not notice the higher rate of people on bikes in Takamatsu compared to most cities in Japan of comparable size.

To match the city's bike-friendly design, Takamatsu has one of the best rental cycle systems in Japan; you can keep your rental bike overnight and it is extremely inexpensive overall. The system is so good and there are so many bikes available that many locals use the system as well, unlike most rental cycles in Japan which are designed exclusively for tourists. You can rent a bike for just ¥100 per day ... and by "day" they don't mean until the end of said day, they mean a full 24-hour period from the moment you rent the bike. So, if you arrive in the afternoon, stay one night, and then leave in the morning; that only requires one "day" of bicycle rental and ¥100. Even better, you can keep your bike overnight, so there are no problems biking to a hotel in the evening and then returning the bike in the morning. It is possible to rent the same cycle for up to 72 hours – all you have to do is inform the staff when you rent the bike that you want it for more than 24 hours. With this extended option, the price of the bike is ¥100 per 24-hour period, so it isn't any more expensive than normal.

There are four rental cycle stations around town and the easiest to locate is in the basement of the bicycle parking area located in front of Takamatsu Station. If you walk out of the station, just look for some stairways leading underground with bike signs above. One key aspect of the rental process is that you will need a photo ID to rent a bike for the first time. Before your first rental you'll be asked to fill out a short application and submit some kind of official photo ID. A few minutes later you'll be issued a renter ID card and for future rentals you will only need this card. Travelers are unlikely to need a card for subsequent rentals, but the few minutes spent filling out the application to get a Takamatsu rental cycle will without a doubt pay off big time when it comes to exploring the city. While it may help to know some Japanese, filling out the application and renting a bike in general with no Japanese should not be a challenge as the staff will understand what you want and at least one of them should be able to manage basic English.
The Kotoden , officially known as the Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad, is also a viable means of getting around parts of downtown Takamatsu. In particular, the Kotoden is convenient for going between Ritsurin Park, Kawaramachi, and the Takamatsu Station/Castle area. The JR lines, utilized more for inter-city travel, don't run terribly often and are not very well-suited for getting around town, particularly the city center
Things to See & Do
Begin your cultural discovery at the open-air Shikoku Mura Village located in the northeast of the city. The ancient village is comprised of more than 30 well-preserved structures that present the intricate detail of Edo Period architecture in centuries-old cottages, an ancient tea-ceremony house and a 250-year-old kabuki stage. Then return to the modern world at Takamatsu City Museum of Art in the refitted Bank of Japan building, where you’ll encounter contemporary art from throughout Japan.
You’ll find the best views over Takamatsu and the Seto Inland Sea from the flat-topped summit of Yashima mountain, along with monuments to the 12th-century Gempei War that turned the mountain into a bloody battleground. Back in the city, appreciate the precise art of Japanese gardening at the expansive Ritsurin Koen Park dating back to 1642. The gardens are thought to have taken a century to construct and mature.
Tamamo Park (Ruins of Takamatsu Castle)
Tamamo Park
There is a song about Takamatsu Castle that goes, "You can see the Takamatsu Castle above the sea in Sanuki." The castle is also called Tamamo Castle because Kakinomoto Hitomaro used the word "Tamamo yoshi" as a pillow word of Sanuki in Manyoshu. Takamatsu Castle was built by Chikamasa Ikoma, the first feudal lord of Takamatsu.  Taking several years to build, the castle has outer, middle and inner moats. It is one of only three castles surrounded by water moats in Japan. At that time, Takamatsu Castle had a magnificent view of the surrounding area with a unique Western-style, three-story, five-layered, castle tower. However, it was removed as it became old. The Ushitora tower, Moon-watch tower as well as Mizutegomon gate still exists which reflects ancient times. A recreational area with old pine trees and other beautiful trees attracts many residents and tourists.
Kotohira-gu Shrine is located one hour away from Takamatsu Port by car. There are 785 stone steps to climb before you reach the main shrine. The deity enshrined here is a god of the sea to whom people from throughout Japan, especially people with professions related to boats, come to pray
Ritsurin Garden
Located in central Takamatsu, Ritsurin Garden is among the most frequently visited attractions in the city. Built in 1625, the garden features a variety of plant and tree life, six ponds and a series of 13 earthen mounds to give the impression of natural, rolling countryside as you walk the paths. The meticulously laid-out landscaping, immense size and historic significance of Ritsurin Garden earned it recognition from the Japanese government as a designated Special Place of Scenic Beauty. Visitors can enter and explore the garden year-round for a small fee. Ritsurin Garden is located 10 min. away from Takamatsu Port by car.
Hiunkaku with romantic Taisho atmosphere
Hiunkaku was built as a second house for Yorinaga Matsudaira, the 12th feudal lord of the Matsudaira family. Construction started in the second year of the Taisho period and took about three years to complete. There is a room called the "big study room" (142 tatami mats) and there are seven rooms named after the view each room has.  For example: the "cycadophyte room," the "pine tree room" and the "wave room".  Nowadays, tea ceremonies and concerts are held with a romantic Taisho atmosphere - a fusion of Japanese tradition and Western skills.
Beautiful cherry blossom of Sakura no baba (turf of cherry blossom) "Sakura no baba" is located in the southern part of the castle tower ruins. As its names shows, this was the place used to train horses in ancient times, but now has become one of the best places to see cherry blossoms with as many as 90 cherry trees blooming in
Yashimaji Temple
Followers of Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, travel to Shikoku each year to walk the 88-temple pilgrimage laid out around the island. The 84th temple of the pilgrimage, Yashimaji Temple, is located within the city limits of Takamatsu atop Yashima Mountain. The well-preserved architecture and stunning views of the sea draw many visitors each year, as does the "snow garden," which features a variety of plants with silvery-white foliage. Although the grounds are always open, the temple and museum only offer hours between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, so plan your trip accordingly.
Literally translated as "roof island," the plateau of Yashima dominates the skyline just outside central Takamatsu. It was the site of a battle between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the 12th century and is often visited by history buffs who hike to the top and throw off small clay disks for good luck. Throwing off the disks, which are available for sale at the base of the plateau, mimics the removal of the Minamoto warrior's headpieces following their victory in battle. The plateau, which is also home to a Shinto temple and public aquarium, offers a bird's eye view of the Inland Sea and the distant islands of Oshima and Megijima, as well as the surrounding city.
Kinashi – in the city’s west – has been the spiritual home of the Japanese art of bonsai since the Edo Period. Bonsai artists continue to delicately shape and cultivate the miniature trees here, and you can witness the work of a fifth-generation craftsman at family-owned bonsai nursery Nakanishi Chinshouen. Visit the Bonsai Auction on Bonsai Street to take home an authentic piece of Japanese art.
The Japanese people take their udon noodles very seriously, and the craft of noodle making is one of Takamatsu’s most prized traditional skills. Known as Sanuki Udon, the noodles are defined by their distinctive firm, chewy texture and are traditionally made with locally grown wheat. Head to the city’s popular Tsurumaru restaurant to witness the noodles prepared by hand and served in a delicious curry sauce.
Many islands dot the Seto Inland Sea, but two of the most historically significant are Megijima and Ogijima – both a short ferry ride from Takamatsu. Megijima is home to 200 people who live a traditional lifestyle on the island. Folklore claims that Megijima is home to ancient demons, and you can tour their cave lair where you’ll find curiously cute demon sculptures have taken up residence. Ogijima delivers a different experience thanks to its small mountain village that is sanctuary to some of the finest artists in the country who toil among the village’s steep stone alleys. Begin your exploration at the island's Ogijima Exchange Center -- a distinctive glass building designed by Spanish architect Jaume Plensa.
Naoshima Island
Naoshima can be reached by ferry in less than an hour from Takamatsu port. Once there you should get a bus to the Art House Project and buy a ticket which will allow you to look at art installations which have been placed in a number of old Japanese buildings.
There is also a very small James Bond museum on the Island if you are a fan.
Shodoshima Island
Less than an hour be ferry will get you to Shodoshima Island. I’d recommend going to the Kankakei Mountain where you can either get a cable car or walk to the top. Once at the top there are viewing areas, food, shops, and more walking paths.
Kotohira – 1400 steps
Take the Kotoden train to Kotohira station and you will be able to see one of the most famous Shinto shrines in the country. To reach the main shrine you will have to climb 785 steps up Mt. Zozusan. Another 583 steps will take you as high as you are allowed to go.
Along the way you’ll pass a number of shops, shrines and statues. There’s a great view from the top. There are more photos and information on my Kotohira page.
Hill walking
Takamatsu is surrounded by hills. Some of them are easy to walk up. Mount Inari is in easy walking distance from the town centre. The nearest station is Ritsurin Koen Kitaguchi. The walking paths aren’t very visibly marked. The best thing to do is to walk around the hill until you find the path. I found a path entrance on the North side of Mount Inari.
Walking up took about two hours as I took some wrong turns – the route is not very visible so a bit of trial and error may be needed. Once at the top you get a small view of parts of the city – note that there are many trees at the top obscuring your view so go up for the fun of the walk – not the view.
Yashima Flat top Mountain
A short Kotoden train journey from Kawaramachi station will get you to the base of the Yashima flat top mountain. From there you can either walk up or get the bus. On the top you will find Yashima aquarium with its many types of fish, as well as a dolphin and sea lion show. There is also a great view across the Takamatsu harbour to see, and a temple – one of the 88.
yashima flat top mountain takamatsu
There are other attractions around Yashima as well such as the folk museum and a shrines and temple. You can read more about the Shikoku-Mura folk museum here.
Mount Inari Takamatsu
You might want to note that there were very few other people in the area so if you have an accident you’ll be in trouble! And as the hill is covered in tall trees no one will see you. I’d suggest you don’t do a walk like this alone – and make sure you do it on a dry day as some of the paths can be slippy.
Other hills and mountains in the area are likely to be walkable if you do a bit of exploring. Certainly a walk up Mount Yashima will give you a great view of the Takamatsu harbour.
88 temple pilgrimage
Shikoku Island is famous for its 88 temple pilgrimage. The temples are scattered all over Shikoku Island, however quite a number of them are in easy reach of Takamatsu. If you go to look at any of them keep a look out for the pilgrims who will be dressed in white.
Don't Miss
The inland sea is home to the island of Naoshima, a Mecca of modern art and one of the area's outstanding tourist sights. There is located 25 minutes away from Takamatsu Port by charter boat and one hour by regular ferry.
Chichu Art Museum is the flagship of Naoshima’s many art museums. The building was designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando as a place that reimagines the relationship between humans and nature. Much of the museum is located underground to preserve the beautiful scenery of the island. Natural light changes the appearance of the artwork and the atmosphere of each space with the passage of time and the seasons.
Visitors from all over the world have flocked to Naoshima since it was the only destination in Japan to be selected as one of "the Next 7 Wonders" in the March 2000 edition of Conde Nast Traveller magazine.
In 2010, Naoshima and six other locations within this treasure trove of islands, played host to the world's first major international modern art festival to be held on multiple islands.
In 2013, triennial international art festival was held for the second time. Even more of the islands was shaped into spaces that blend nature and modern art. In the event of both period, around 1 million people from all over the world visited and were moved by the artwork on the islands during those events.
Many artworks and museums are still open to visitors even though the events are over.
As many art lovers have already discovered, the area surrounding Takamatsu port and Naoshima is a haven of art that heals and refreshes the soul.
Eating Out
Takamatsu is extremely well-known throughout Japan for its udon, one of the three major types of Japanese noodle dishes. Udon noodles are distinctive in that they are white, fairly thick, and chewy.
Kagawa Prefecture is famous for this food, and the type made within the prefecture is sometimes called Sanuki udon, 'Sanuki' being Kagawa's name before the modern era. While this can be considered a regional specialty of Kagawa, the Sanuki variety is so widely-loved throughout Japan that it is often thought of as the 'normal' type, and is what most people imagine when they hear the word 'udon'. Despite udon being so widespread, Takamatsu does it better and cheaper than anywhere else in the country. There are literally hundreds of udon shops within the city limits. Because local foods are often a driving force in Japanese tourism, many people flock to the city for the udon, often doing "chain-eating" tours around the city to famous shops.
Udon is an extremely budget-friendly food, and it's a simple but tasty item that is easy to eat even for those who don't especially take to Japanese food, so travelers should make an effort to eat udon at least once while in Takamatsu.
The average Takamatsu udon shop has a variety of udon dishes available. These are some of the standard types:
Kake udon — (Hot) The most basic variety. The noodles come in a hot dashi and soy-flavored broth and will likely have sliced onions thrown in. Some places may also add a slice of kamaboko (fish sausage) as well. You're likely to have a pinch of ginger added to the broth.
Kitsune udon — (Hot) Like kake udon, but with a large slab of fried tofu in the bowl.
Tempura udon — (Hot) Also like kake udon, but with a some tempura thrown in for good measure. Typically the tempura will be shrimp plus a vegetable or two, however at the cheapest places the tempura will be kaki-age, a vegetable-shrimp patty.
Kama'age udon — (Hot) Identical to zaru udon in manner of eating, however noodles come hot instead of cold. As far as taste is concerned, it's quite similar to kake udon.
Zaru udon — (Cold) Cold noodles come on a wooden tray. From there, you pick them up, dip them into a soy-based broth that comes with the dish, and then eat.
There are many more types – different toppings (raw egg, for example) lead to different names. It's rare for a typical bowl of udon to exceed ¥1000, and not uncommon for the simpler types to hover around ¥400. ¥100 bowls are even available at some places. Feel free to ask locals about good udon shops – they are sure to know some.
Tsurumaru, 9-34 (About halfway between Kataharamachi Station and Kawaramachi Station on the road running along the Kotoden Line.),  +81 087 821-3780. 11AM-2PM, 8PM-3AM. One of the more noteworthy udon shops in town. Specializes in curry udon. An English menu is available. ¥400-1200 per bowl.
Amazon, 4-21 Kajiyamachi Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture 760-0028, Japan (Behind the Family Mart convenience store in Marugamemachi shotengai, 3rd floor.), ?+81 87-851-4560. 20:00-04:00. This bar has very reasonably priced drinks and has every kind of alcohol you can possibly hope for! The bartender (also the owner) speaks very good English as well. Nearly any night of the week, you can find someone there to talk to, and the crowd there is very diverse. It has become the unofficial foreigner's bar in Takamatsu. 
The main shopping area of Takamatsu consists of a number of covered shopping streets. Take a walk along Tamachi, Minamishinmachi, Marugamemachi, Kataharamachi, Hyogomachi, Lion-Dori and Tokiwamachi. You’ll find hundreds of shops and many restaurants.
There are clothing shops, household goods, Udon restaurants, book shops, souvenir shops and more. This is an especially good place to shop if it is raining as you can get across large areas of the city without being too exposed to the elements.

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