An Indulgent and Charming 2-Day Model Course on Kagawa and Ehime’s Cuisine, Scenery, and Onsen [PR]
When in Kagawa and Ehime, two prefectures of the Shikoku region that face the Seto Inland Sea, you can't miss out on the local cuisine! Seafood dishes, the famous Sanuki udon, and more delightful foods await you. These prefectures are also home to many spots with unique scenery, as well as Japan's oldest onsen (hot spring). This charming model course will take you sightseeing around all of Kagawa and Ehime's super Instagrammable spots in an efficient manner. Read more to find out what awaits you!
What are Kagawa and Ehime like?
Kagawa and Ehime are two prefectures on the island of Shikoku, located to the southwest of Honshu. Kagawa Prefecture, which is in the northeast of the main island of Shikoku, is known for its temperate climate with little rain throughout the year. It bills itself as the "Udon Prefecture" for its Sanuki udon (thick noodles), which is a local food that cannot be missed. Ehime Prefecture is in the northwest of the main island of Shikoku and, like Kagawa, has a temperate climate. It has many mikan (mandarin orange) orchards and rice paddies, and is also famous for its fishing grounds for sea bream, horse mackerel, and other fish. *The image is of the city of Takamatsu as seen from the summit of Mt. Yashima
On this trip, trains and taxis are the main modes of transportation. It starts in Takamatsu, Kagawa, where you can enjoy the local dish, Sanuki udon, and visit the popular tourist destination, Kompira-san, to pray for better fortune. There are other stops to experience the culture and history of Shikoku as well as its fantastic views and sweets. In Ehime, there are opportunities to purchase Imabari towels, which make perfect souvenirs and gifts; take in the views through the windows of the Yosan Line trains that run primarily along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea; enjoy yukata and hot spring baths at Dogo Onsen, which is one of Japan's oldest onsen (hot spring); and treat yourself to fabulous food. The highlight of the trip is a fantastic viewpoint where you can see the sun setting slowly over the Seto Inland Sea. Although trains and taxis are the main modes of transportation in this itinerary, rental cars are recommended if you want to travel more efficiently. Now, on to the girls' trip itinerary to help you thoroughly enjoy the little-known appeals of Kagawa and Ehime in Shikoku!
Day 1: Depart from Takamatsu Station
The trip around Kagawa and Ehime in Shikoku starts at JR Takamatsu Station in Kagawa Prefecture. Take JR Kotoku Line for about 15 minutes to the first destination, Shikoku Mura.
Enjoy a Quintessentially Japanese Landscape at Shikoku Mura (Approx. 60 minutes)
Shikoku Mura is located about 10 minutes by taxi from Yashima Station. It is an open-air museum with reconstructed houses from around Shikoku. At this museum, you can see houses that people lived in during the Edo and Taisho periods (1603 - 1926). There even are some structures that are designated by the Japanese government as Important Cultural Assets. Kazurabashi, located near the entrance, is a bridge constructed mainly with vines, such as kazura (a creeping plant), with just wooden planks on the floor. It is not that high but it shakes back and forth and can be quite unnerving to cross! *There are wires used for safety
This is the Former Kawano Residence, a private resident that was was first built in Uchiko, a town in Ehime Prefecture. It was built during the 18th century and is designated as an Important Cultural Asset. This house, where three generations lived together, may feel small inside, but it is said to have been a relatively large and rich house for the time. Take a seat and relax, and you may have the strange sense of having slipped back in time.
This cute, roundish hut with a triangular roof is the Satoshime-goya (hut for wringing the sap from sugar canes). It is a great spot for photographs, so be sure to visit. While not as well-known to the general public, this is popular spot among cosplayers because of the scenery from Japan's past that is great for taking photographs in samurai and ninja costumes as well as costumes of popular animation characters. If you're interested, be sure to check it out. However, be sure to follow the rules and etiquette, and avoid entering restricted areas or doing anything that may annoy guests.
■Shikoku Mura Hours of Operation: (April - October) 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, (November - March) 8:30 am - 4:30 pm Closing days: None Admission: 1,000 JPY/adult, 600 JPY/high school student, 400 JPY/elementary or junior high school student Address: 91 Yashima Nakamachi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
Pray for Protection Against Misfortune by Throwing Ties from the Scenic Mt. Yashima (approx. 30 minutes)
To get to the next destination, you can take a taxi from Shikoku Mura or take the Mt. Yashima Shuttle Bus if there is a convenient one that matches your schedule. It takes a little less than 10 minutes either way. Yashima is the site of the 1185 Battle of Yashima. which took place during the Genpei War between the Minamoto and Taira clans. There is a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea and the city of Takamatsu from the summit. One thing to try here is the "kawara-nage," a fun activity wherein you throw pottery, such as a plate or unglazed sake cup, from a high ground while wishing for better luck and protection against misfortune. In Yashima, it is said that the origin of the practice is that the Minamoto clan celebrated its victory in the battle by throwing their jingasa (a flat pyramid shaped hat that was worn in battle at the time). Items are now thrown to wish for better fortune and avoidance of misfortune, harmony in the household, and to succeed in exams the way the Minamoto clan succeeded in battle. Small unglazed kawara tiles (200 JPY for six) can be purchased at the kiosk at the summit of Mt. Yashima.
You will find a large ring and a small ring below a spot with the sign "Kawara Nage-dokoro" (kawara-throwing spot), and it is said that your wishes will come true if the kawara you throw goes through the rings. There are apparently techniques for throwing the kawara, but even if they don't go through the rings, it will feel refreshing to throw the kawara with all your strength while looking at the fantastic view of the city of Takamatsu and all the way to the islands of the Seto Inland Sea. The sunset is beautiful too, so try to go around evening-time if you are interested.
■Yashimasanjo Sightseeing Information Center Parking lot operating hours: 7:00 am - 10:00 pm Parking fee: 1,200 JPY/bus, 300 JPY/automobile, 200 JPY/motorcycle Address: 1784 Yashima Higashi-machi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
Enjoy an Udon Lunch at the Sanuki Main Store of Yamadaya
Take a taxi for about 15 minutes from the kawara-throwing spot to arrive at a hugely popular restaurant that was opened by a descendant of the famous Yamada family. The large mansion, built at the end of the Edo period (latter half of the 1800s), is more than 2600 sq.m. in area and is a registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan. The restaurant is actually famous as the originator of bukkake (a way of eating udon by pouring the sauce over the noodles, rather than dipping them in the sauce as is common with soba noodles), which is a popular way of eating Sanuki udon. You've come all this way, so why not order both the cold Zaru Bukkake (570 JPY) and the warm Kamaage Udon (520 JPY)?
The warm Kamaage Udon is recommended on a cold winter day, but the Zaru Bukkake is a great way to enjoy the texture and chewiness of freshly made udon noodles, and is thus a dish you'll want to eat even in the winter. The udon noodles, which are enhanced by sudachi ( a type of citrus from Tokushima Prefecture) and home-made tenkasu (crunchy bits of deep-fried dough), are so good you'll forget to talk while finishing them off!
The building has a beautiful exterior and an inner parlor, with a view of the lovely garden where domain lords were once entertained guests.
Enjoy a Snack Full of Fruit and Vegetables at NORTHSHORE KAGAWA (approx. 40 minutes)
From Yamadaya, take a taxi and then the train to get JR Takamatsu Station. The next destination is only a 15-minute walk from the station, but can be a bit difficult to find, so taking a taxi (approx. 5 minutes) from Takamatsu Station is recommended. This stylish cafe opened in 2016 and is a great spot to take photographs to post on social media. There is a view of the Seto Inland Sea through the large windows of this bright cafe. Both your body and soul will be satisfied here thanks to the wonderful rays from the sun and the colorful menu.
As would be expected of a cafe that has "beauty and health" as its concept, it offers a wide selection of enzyme-rich menu items, focusing primarily on seasonal fruits and raw vegetables. The cafe is managed by a company that deals in fruits, so the freshness and flavors of the fruits live up to their wonderful appearances. All seats have a view of the ocean, so relax and enjoy!
The Pancake Tropical (1,400 JPY), which is crunchy on the outside and fluffy inside, is an outstanding dish with fresh cream with just the right level of understated sweetness to enhance the natural flavors of the generous serving of fruits. If you are there at lunchtime, try one of its voluminous specialty sandwiches that are packed with vegetables. (Top left of the photograph is the Sprout Sandwich (Shrimp & Egg) 1,300 JPY).
Visit Kotohira-gu and Get a Book for Seals and a Yellow Protection Amulet (approx. 2 hours)
Go back to JR Takamatsu Station from NORTHSHORE KAGAWA and take the train for 45 minutes to JR Kotohira Station. Now, to the main event of the first day: A visit to Kotohira-gu, a shrine affectionately known as Kompira-san of Sanuki. There is a staircase with 785 steps to get to the main shrine building, and the easiest way to get up the stairs is to walk rhythmically without dragging your feet. Just focus on climbing the stairs with your eyes on the goal. It is better to have a walking stick to help you go up and down the stairs. They can be rented at a shop along the path, so if you are concerned, rent one before going up.
This is the Daimon gate. Beyond it is the grounds of Kotohira-gu, but there are still more steps so hang in there!
Finally, you will arrive at the Gohon-gu (Main Shrine)! With a sense of accomplishment mixed with a pleasant level of tiredness, this will surely be a temple visit full of gratitude.
Take a break and snap some photos at the observation deck just to the right of the main building, where there is a fantastic panoramic view of the Sanuki Plain.
The Yellow Charm of Happiness (800 JPY) and the Goshuin-cho (a booklet for temple seals) (1,500 JPY), both of which are only available here, are items you'll want to purchase. They are sold to the left of the main shrine and are perfect as a treat for yourself or a gift for someone special.
■Kotohira-gu Main shrine doors opening and closing: (April - September) doors open 6:00 am, door close 6:00 pm, (October - March) doors open 6:00 am , doors close 5:00 pm Closing days: None Fees: None Address: 892-1 Kotohira-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa
Enjoy the Sanuki Specialty Honetsukidori at Tanaka-ya (approx. 90 minutes)
You'll be tired from all the walking, so have an early dinner of Honetsuki-dori (bone-in chicken), which is a Sanuki specialty almost as famous as Sanuki udon, at Tanaka-ya on the path to Kotohira-gu.
The restaurant's signature dish, Honestuki-dori, is bone-in chicken flavored just with salt, pepper, and garlic. The Oyadori (890 JPY (excl. tax)), pictured left, is distinguished by clear umami (Japanese savory taste) and a firm texture, and goes perfectly with sake. Compare it with the soft and juicy Wakadori (890 (excl. tax)), pictured right. At this restaurant, the meat is meant to be cut by scissors at a 90-degree angle to the bone and then cut off the bone so it is easier to eat. If you're not sure what to do, the staff will give you detailed explanations.
■Tanaka-ya Hours of operation: 11:00 am 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm), 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 11:00 pm) *11:00 am 11:00 pm (L.O. 11:00 pm) on weekends and national holidays Closing days: Wednesday *open if it is a national holiday Address: 720-13 Kotohira-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa
Stay Overnight at a Hotel Near a Yosan Line Limited Express Station
You'll be traveling by train the next day, so go as far as Tadotsu Station, or if possible to Kan-onji Station Station, for your overnight accommodations. If you want to reduce your travel time on the next day, you may want to go to Nyugawa Station and stay near there.
Day 2: From Kagawa to Ehime on the Yosan Line with wonderful views
It's time to go to Ehime Prefecture, where the highlights are Dogo Onsen and the wonderful seafood. With this itinerary, you'll get your fill of the Ehime specialties that have been cherished by people over the years.
Enjoy the Views from JR Yosan Line Limited Express Ishizuchi 1 from Kan-onji Station
The Yosan Line, which is popular for the fantastic views that can be seen through the windows of the train cars, is a local line that runs along the Seto Inland Sea. You'll have a lovely time sitting across from your friends, chatting, and enjoying in the rustic scenery outside the windows.
Find a gift unique to Imabari at the Towel Museum (approx. 40 minutes)
Take a taxi for about 15 minutes from Nyugawa Station. Imabari is a city that is famous around the world for its towels. The Towel Museum at Imabari is a place where you can see how towels are made using state-of-the-art high speed automatic looms as well as a variety of different exhibits.
Even more exciting is the opportunity to peruse the wide selection of different towels. These towels, which are soft, gentle on the skin, and absorbent, make the perfect gift! The museum's original hand towel, the Dress Hanger Towel, comes in a staggering array of 40 different colors, so if you're looking for a pink, for example, you'll find just the right pink to suit your tastes. You can also get the towels embroidered there for 32 JPY per letter, so take advantage to create a special memento of your trip. Just one special towel can bring comfort to your daily life.
There is a whole wall covered with colorful "cheese wheels" made of thread - the perfect place to snap a photo to post online!
Hours of operation: 9:30 am - 6:00 pm (galleries close 30 minutes before the museum; hours extended on Saturdays and days with consecutive holidays *except the last day))
Closing days: Third and fourth Tuesdays of January, 2019
Gallery admission: 800 JPY/adult, 600 JP/junior high or high school student, 400 JPY/elementary school student
*Free entrance to the shop and garden Address: 2930 Asakurakami Ko, Imabari-shi, Ehime
Enjoy a Luxurious Lunch of Taimeshi and Tai Somen at Goshiki (approx. 60 minutes)
Quickly take a taxi from Towel Museum back to Nyugawa Station and take the train to Matsuyama Station. Change to a tram, get off at Okaido Station, and walk 5 minutes to Goshiki Main Store, a famous restaurant founded in 1635. Here, you can thoroughly enjoy tai (sea bream), which is the prefectural fish of Ehime. Other local Ehime cuisine, such as goshiki somen and Iyo wagyu (a type of high-quality beef from Iyo, Ehime) can also be enjoyed at this restaurant.
Tai is a high-grade fish that is historically served at celebrations because the word "medetai," which means "something that is joyous and should be celebrated," ends with "tai." It is also said that its appearance, with a bright color and impressive-looking head, is one of the reasons they are welcome at parties. However, its greatest appeal is its flavor. The tai from the Seto Inland Sea is particularly tasty and has firm, fatty meat. Not to be missed is the Matsuyama (Hokujo) Taimeshi (1,000 JPY), of which is limited to 30 orders per day. The flavors of the fresh tai procured that day are sure to make you smile. The rice, which soaks up the juices from the tai, is so good you'll want to have two servings!
Tai Somen/Sugatami (1,680 JPY) is a dish usually served to guests in a sake cup. The umami of the tai goes perfectly with the slippery goshiki (multicolored) somen noodles, and the festive appearance brightens one up. Having a luxurious lunch at a famous old restaurant with such a great atmosphere is truly one of the joys of traveling.
Try Mikan Juice from a Faucet at Ehime Aigan Local Product Association (approx. 20 minutes)
This tourist shop for local products is located about 5 minutes on foot from Goshiki. It exhibits and sells Ehime Prefecture products, offers tourist information, and, most famously, has a faucet from which mikan juice flows out! Even if you know about it beforehand, it is quite surprising to see juice coming out of a faucet that usually sprouts water. It is like a magic faucet that you may have dreamed of as a child.
The mikan juice is 100 JPY a cup, and the sweet and tart flavor will rejuvenate you from your travels. Be careful not to spill it when trying to take a picture! br> The shop also sells goshiki somen, Matsuyama-age (fried tofu), jakoten (fried fish paste), and a variety of local crafts, so it is the perfect place to find souvenirs.
Enjoy the Open-Air Bath of Dogo Onsen While Wearing Yukata That Are Works of Art (approx. 95 minutes))
Once you've enjoyed the mikan juice, take the tram for about 10 minutes to Dogo Onsen. Dogo Onsen is among Japan's three most most famous ancient onsen towns and even appears in Nihon Shoki, one of Japan's oldest books of classical Japanese history. Currently, works of art by 25 groups of artists are on display in hotels and around town as a part of the art festival, Dogo ONSENART 2018. The original yukata (robe) pictured here were created collaboratively between a popular ceramicist/artist, Makoto Kagoshima, along with Dogo Onsen and Ginza Mitsukoshi, a famous department store in Tokyo. The yukata can be rented at some ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and hotels in Dogo Onsen (check the official website for details), as well as at the tourist information center in front of Dogo Onsen Station (for 2,000 JPY). Take a stroll around the historic onsen town with your girlfriends wearing these lovely yukata! *You can change into your yukata at Dogo Onsen Annex Asuka-no-Yu
There are three open-air baths to enjoy at Dogo Onsen: The Kami-no-Yu in Dogo Onsen Honkan (Main Building); the Shin-yu at Asuka-no-Yu in Dogo Onsen Annex, which had its grand opening in December 2017; and the Shin-yu at Tsubaki-no-Yu. Most highly recommended is Dogo Onsen Honkan, which was reconstructed in 1894 and still operates as a public bathhouse. The water is free-flowing from the source spring, with no added water or temperature adjustments, which is a rarity in Japan. The water is gentle and smooth, and does not irritate the skin. Let the hot spring water warm you to the core in a short period of time.
There are lounges where you can enjoy tea after taking a bath. They are great places to feel the pleasant wind cool your hot body down and enjoy the charm and atmosphere of a historic onsen. Dogo Onsen is also famous for the novel "Botchan," written by the acclaimed Japanese writer, Natsume Soseki. Soseki once visited the onsen, and Dogo Onsen Honkan now has Botchan's Room, which was named after the novel.
■Dogo Onsen Hokan Hours of operation: Kami-no-Yu downstairs 6:00 am - 11:00 pm (last admission 10:30 pm), Kami-no-Yu 2nd floor pubic lounge 6:00 am - 10:00 pm (last admission 9:00 pm) Tama-no-Yu 2nd floor public lounge 6:00 am - 10:00 pm (last admission 9:00 pm), Tama-no-Yu 3rd floor private room 6:00 am - 10:00 pm (last admission 8:40 pm) Admission: Kami-no-Yu downstairs (Kami-no-Yu *no lounge access) 410 JPY/adult, 160 JPY/child Kami-no-Yu 2nd floor pubic lounge (Kami-no-Yu, yukata rental, tea, rice crackers, 1-hour access to the lounge) 840 JPY/adult, 420 JPY/child Tama-no-Yu 2nd floor public lounge (Tama -no-Yu, yukata rental, tea, rice crackers, viewing of the Yushinden, 1-hour access to the lounge) 1,250 JPY/adult, 620 JPY/child Tama-no-Yu 3rd floor private room (Tama -no-Yu, yukata rental, tea, rice crackers, botchan dango dumplings, viewing of the Yushinden, 1 hour 20 minutes access to the lounge) 1,550 JPY/adult, 770 JPY/child Closing days: Only the Kami-no-Yu bath will be open from January 15, 2019 due to maintenance and repairs (*No access to Tama-no-Yu, lounges on the 2nd and 3rd floor and Yushinden) Address: 5-6 Dogo Yunomachi, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime
See a Fantastic Sunset at Shimonada Station (approx. 80 minutes*)
Once you've enjoyed Dogo Onsen, take a few trains to get to Shimonada Station. It will take 40 to 60 minutes, but the views from Yosan Line from Matsuyama are fantastic.
JR Shimonada Station is an unmanned station on Yosan Line. It is a simple station with just two benches and a roof on the platform, but right in front is the gorgeous, azure Seto Inland Sea. The station is also a hugely popular spot in Japan where many people aspire to visit to see the beautiful sunset on the sea.
*The sun sets at different times depending on the time of year, so the expected time to spend there is an approximation.
Right nearby are train tracks that look just like tracks that go out into the ocean in a popular animated film, so it is famous not only among train aficionados, but also among fans of Japanese animation and TV dramas. The station may be unmanned, but there are always people visiting it.
There was a beautiful sunset this day, so the reporters jumped up to get this photograph. The time of sunset differs greatly by season, so be sure to check in advance.
Looking at the sun setting beyond the train tracks can make one feel as if they are in a story. When you sit and watch the sky and ocean changing their appearance minute by minute, you may feel as if you want to enjoy this time forever. This is an unmanned station so be sure to follow the rules and etiquette to safely enjoy a lovely time.
■JR Shimonada Station Address: Okubo, Futami-cho, Iyo-shi, Ehime
End the Trip with Udon Noodles at the Handmade Udon Restaurant, Tsuru-chan in Iyo (approx. 1 hour)
Once you've enjoyed the sunset at Shimonada Station, take the train for about 40 minutes back to Matsuyama, then change to a tram to go to Tsuru-chan, an udon restaurant that will be the finale of the trip. Your heart may have been warmed by the sunset, but your body may be cold, so warm it up with the steaming hot Nabeyaki Udon (udon served in a pot), a Matsuyama specialty. You'll discover the appeal of Iyo udon, which is different from Sanuki udon.
The Nabeyaki Udon Tsuru-chan Style (650 JPY (excl. tax)) is distinguished by a slightly sweet Matsuyama-style soup made with ten types of dried ingredients, such as iriko (dried sardines) and dried shiitake mushroom, and brown sugar. The traditional nabeyaki udon has the added flavors of meat and the sweetness of the deep fried tofu that makes it a comforting dish that is perfect as the finale of a trip.
The Premium Nabeyaki Udon (1,300 JPY (excl. tax) includes the Seto Inland Sea specialty, jakoten. It's quite voluminous, so you might want to share.
■Tsuru-chan Main Store Hours of operation: (Monday - Thursday) 11:00 am - 1:00 am, (Friday, Saturday, Day before National Holidays) 11:00 am - 3:00 am, (Sunday, National Holidays) 11:00 am - 12:00 am Closing days: None Address: Santa Bldg. 1F, 3-7-16 Niban-cho, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime
[Bonus] Visit Kurushima Straits Observatory and Umi no Mieru Cafe if Traveling By Rental Car
The above itinerary is based on travel by train and taxi, but it is more convenient to travel in a rental car. Here are some spots to visit if you are renting a car.
Enjoy Fantastic Views of the Strait and Islands at Kurushima Strait Observatory (approx. 30 minutes)
If you have a rental car, stop by here after the Towel Museum. It will take about 40 minutes to get here. Kurushima Straits, located to the northeast of Imabari City, is a rough spot in the ocean that is one of the three strongest currents in Japan, together with Naruto Straits (Tokushima Prefecture) and Kanmon Straits (between Honshu and Kyushu). The Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge, which crosses over the straits to islands such as Uma Island, is often full of people enjoying walking and cycling on it. The observatory also has great local drinks and deserts, such as Imabari mikan juice and salted ice cream from Hakata Island.
■Kurushima Straits Observatory Hours of operation: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm Address: 2-5-2 Koura-cho, Imabari-shi, Ehime
Have a Relaxing Time at Umi no Mieru Cafe (approx. 60 minutes)
Umi no Mieru Cafe is a famous cafe tucked away in a quiet location about 3 minutes by car from Kurushima Straits Observatory. It is run by a charming couple who manage Kurushima Marina, and many of its guests are fans of the owners. There are views of Kurushima Straits, the Seto Inland Sea, and various islands both from inside the cafe and from the outdoor terrace.
Their Mishokan Juice (550 JPY) is served hot during the winter only. The owner decided to sell this type of juice, made from a type of local citrus, after touring roadside stations in the prefecture and trying many varieties. The owner then got the idea from hot lemonade to serve this outstanding drink hot. The couple, who have lived here for years, say they never tire of the scenery where more than 600 boats, including tankers and luxury cruise ships, go by each day. Have the delicately flavored Monthly Roll Cake (350 JPY) with the Hot Mishokan while enjoying a view of the winter sea.
■Umi no Mieru Cafe Hours of operation: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Closing days: Wednesdays (*Thursday if Wednesday is a national holiday, or Tuesday if Wednesday and Thursday are both national holidays) Address: 2-7-30 Sunaba-cho, Imabari-shi, Ehime
This model itinerary for a girls' trip includes everything from fantastic food to great views and spots for photographs to post on social media. Take it into consideration to plan a trip to Kagawa and Ehime in Shikoku.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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