8 Things to Do in Shikoku, Japan

Where to experience traditional Awa dance, sample the famed local udon, soak in an onsen and more recommendations for Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands

Tokushima: Awa Odori Hall

The dance show at Awa Odori Hall is both informative and entertaining. Amid short demonstrations of the beautiful Awa dance, historical facts are explained in Japanese with translations projected onto the wall. Organisers get the audience on their feet, so it’s a fun affair.

Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan, North-East Asia, Asia
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Naruto (30 minutes from Tokushima): Hotel Ridge

Naruto boasts natural whirlpools in its seas and a huge art museum of nothing but reproductions of world-famous art printed on ceramic slabs. But the town’s top highlight is this minimalist ryokan hotel, where the set dinner is innovative and the onsen faces the sea.

Takamatsu (1 hour from Tokushima): Sanuki Udon

Kagawa prefecture, population about one million, has 800 udon joints. The area specialises in the famed Sanuki udon, and the prefectural capital, Takamatsu, is a sure bet to find this dish. This is also the port city to get to Naoshima and other ‘art islands’.

Tokushima, Sanuki Udon
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Iya Valley (1.5 hours from Tokushima): Iya Onsen

Sitting on a lookout over Iya Valley, Iya Onsen Hotel is notable for its hot spring bath right by the river. Visitors take a funicular cable car from the main property to the onsen 170 metres below.

Oboke (1.5 hours from Tokushima): Oboke Gorge

Meaning ‘gorge of big danger’, Oboke Gorge features a scenic and fast-moving river. You can simply gaze at it or hike on its rocky shores and go whitewater rafting. Thirty-minute sightseeing boat rides are popular.

Oboke Gorge, Tokushima, Japan

Kaifu Point (2 hours from Tokushima): Surfing

When wave conditions are good, surfers rush to Kaifu Point. It’s also not far from Takegashima Marine Park, where kayaking, snorkelling and diving are available.

Kochi (2.5 hours from Tokushima): Katsurahama Beach

Edged by a pine forest, Katsurahama Beach is a seaside escape that’s not for swimming (it’s prohibited) or sports, but simply taking in the scenery. Since ancient times, this site has been known as a great place for moon gazing.

Kochi, Tokushima, Japan

Matsuyama (4 hours from Tokushima): Matsuyama Castle

Located high on a hill, this large castle complex dating to the 1600s is impeccably maintained and offers panoramic views of the city. The best time to visit is early spring, when the 200 cherry trees on the grounds are in bloom.

Tokushima, Japan, temple
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This story was published in December 2018 and updated in February 2020

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