Exploring Top 3 Highlights of Kagawa and Ehime on Shikoku Island
Shikoku is the smallest of the four main islands in Japan and blessed with gorgeous landscape and unique culture from 4 prefectures – Kagawa, Tokushima, Kochi and Ehime. Here’s a preview of 3 top highlights in Kagawa and Ehime!
1. Ritsurin Garden
Regarded as one of Japan's best landscape gardens, Ritsurin Garden is an oasis in Kagawa’s capital city, Takamatsu. Built in the Edo era, Ritsurin Garden epitomizes the essence of shakkei, “borrowed scenery” by incorporating Mt. Shiun into its background. I spent hours wandering through the spacious garden and pausing frequently around the bridges, ponds and artificial hills to admire the scenery. Visitors can take a break from their strolls and visit the teahouses or Sanuki Folkcraft Museum.
2. Matsuyama Castle
One of Japan's twelve castles with original keep, Matsuyama Castle is nestled on a hill in the heart of Matsuyama city in Ehime. Visitors could either climb or take the ropeway to the castle. An exemplar of feudal castle in the 17th century, the complex structure was first constructed with a five-tiered keep but subsequently renovated as a three-level structure. The moat, turrets, multiple gates and steep stone walls are important defensive features of the castle. Venturing inside the castle, I learnt more about the castle’s history and even tried samurai costumes. The castle’s tower is my favorite spot to rest and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
3. Ishite temple
Temple number 51 of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, the intriguing Ishite temple is filled with important cultural and religious artefacts. Pilgrims or “henro” visit 88 temples which are associated with the Buddhist monk Kukai, also famously known as Kobo Dashi. Ishite means “stone hand” as the temple is linked to a legend about a man who was reincarnated with a stone in his hand. A designated national treasure, Niomon Gate opens up to the vast grounds of the temple. The most memorable part of my visit was exploring the enigmatic cave that connects the main temple to the inner temple.
This article was published in ANA Experience Japan website 2016-2018.