Attractions Galore! 19 Recommendations for Sightseeing and Udon in Takamatsu, Kagawa
Udon is a must-have when talking about the local cuisine specialties of the Kagawa Prefecture. In addition to the udon, the city of Takamatsu is especially well known for its beautiful and abundant nature, and offers many attractive sightseeing locations. From traveling with friends, to family trips, to quiet solitary adventures, Takamatsu has something for every kind of traveling occasion. This will be an introduction to everything from the standard spots and convenient access spots nearby the train station, to hole-in-the-wall recommendations for the complete experience when taking a trip to Takamatsu.
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A Selection of the 9 Recommended Staples of Sightseeing in Takamatsu
1. Ritsurin Garden
Ritsurin Garden, designated a special scenic place of beauty by the national government, boasts an especially vast area, even among other nationally designated great parks in Japan. The circuit style garden retains vestiges of its grandeur from its times as a novelty for the Daimyo (feudal lord) in the early Edo Period (1603-1868), and its distinctive beauty in each season will make for a scenic scape regardless of when you choose to visit. However, if forced to make a choice, the red-tinted leaves makes the autumn season is a spectacular time of year to visit.
Ritsurin Garden is open to visit from the break of dawn. Hanazonotei is a restaurant located inside of the park which serves as an excellent location to have breakfast. For 1,300 yen, you can enjoy some asagayu (rice porridge) while savoring the morning scenery of the garden. The combination of a nutritious meal and the tranquil calm of the garden is a fantastic way to begin your day. Consider kicking off your sightseeing in Takamatsu on any given day at Ritsurin Garden.
2. Shikoku Mura
Shikoku Mura (Village), also called the Shikoku Folk Museum, is an outdoor museum where you can find a number of Important Cultural Articles. The open-air museum is about a 2-hour walk from entrance to exit, so taking a pair of sneakers is highly recommended. There is also a hands-on experience area of the museum, where you can envision the lives once led by the people of cultures past, as you glean from their wisdom and learn about their various inventions.
3. Onigashima Cave
Onigashima Cave is the dwelling of demons (called oni) in the famous folk tale of Momotaro (a boy and his animal companions who go on a quest to slay the oni). Upon arriving, you'll first see a stone wall befitting of the looming rocky expanse that appears in the story. At the island peak is an actual oni waiting for you, which might give your small children a bit of a scare! Exploring the island feels like a bit of an adventure, and makes for an active and enjoyable day.
Onigashima is known as the place to go to swim in Takamatsu. With its crystalline, white sand spreads across the shores, this beach have been designated one of the 100 Best Places to Swim in Japan. You'll have little difficulty finding photo opportunities on the island. The island is only accessible by ferry, giving it a private beach-like quality to enjoy the waters without crowds. During the summer, you can find beach huts known as "umi no ie".
The entire island of Yashima has been designated a natural monument by the government. Yashima, or "Roof Island", got its name from how its mountain peak extends over the Seto Inland Sea like a giant roof. The scenery from atop the observatory on the island is said to be the most beautiful vantage point in the Kagawa prefecture.
The Yashima Driveway is surrounded by lush nature on all sides, and the peripheral scenery is reflective of Japan's distinctive temporal seasonal cycle. The approximately 3.7 km long toll road connects the peak and basin of Yashima, and has been designated a Scenic Road of Japan. Upon surveying the public for a nickname, the decision to name it the Yashima Skyway was recently finalized. The drive is perfect for a date.
If you're looking for a place that's well-known for their Sanuki udon (thick noodles), take a stop by Chikusei. Chikusei is a restaurant reputed for their sheer speed of service, as well being able to boil your own udon. As such, you get to control what kind of consistency you like for your udon. Since they're only open during lunch hours, a line is likely going to be unavoidable. To secure your chances of getting a seat, be sure to arrive prior to opening hours.
Tempura can be added as a topping, which is brought out piping hot and crisp right after you order it. The soft-boiled egg and the chikuwa (a tube-shaped roll of fish cake) tempura are the two most popular toppings, each for the budget-friendly price of 100 yen. They close upon running out of stock, so try to get there early if you can.
6. Kanmi Chaya Budo no Ki
Budo no Ki is a kanmidokoro, or a cafe serving traditional Japanese sweets, where they are known for the Kagawa specialty [Anmochi Zoni]. Anmochi Zoni is a white miso soup with rice cake made with adzuki beans swimming in it. The gently simmered carrots and Japanese radish in the white miso soup along with the adzuki beans create a sweet and savory flavor that is hard to stop eating. They also have souvenirs, so you can bring home some treats to share with family or friends.
Additionally, they even serve shaved ice during the summer. You'll be astonished to see that a single serving is around the same size as a person's face. The ice is flavored with plenty of homemade matcha (finely ground green tea leaves) syrup, and the Shiratama (rice flour) and matcha agar is topped with vanilla and matcha ice cream, as well as azuki paste. Altogether, you may find yourself giddy like a child when digging in on a hot summer day.
7. Gyoki no Yu
Gyoki no Yu, located right next to Shionoe Michi-no-Eki, is the oldest hot spring establishment in the Kagawa prefecture. You can enjoy everything from the reserved baths, the wooden indoor baths, the stone baths, to the foot baths at the facility. The hot spring is ideal for leisurely relaxation with your family, so stop by for a restful time.
April brings about the full beauty of the Yoshino cherries during the Sakura Festival, while in June you can find 2000 fireflies flitting about in the Firefly Festival. In August is an Onsen Festival in honor of the water deity, and in November, there is a popular gathering to view the red autumn leaves. The festivities of the various events make for a great time to visit.
8. Tenkatsu Main Branch
At Tenkatsu, they serve the Kagawa local cuisine specialty beisuke stew. Beisuke is a type of giant conger eel. The ingredients are stewed in stock with soy sauce, then dipped in beaten eggs. Perhaps this sounds familiar if you've ever had sukiyaki before. The beisuke is lighter on the stomach than beef, and is of a texture that seems to melt away in your mouth.
Though the beisuke stew is popular, the anago sushi is also an oft ordered dish. When grilled, the skin has an appetizing, fragrant smell, while when steamed, it has a fluffy texture that goes well with the prepared sauce. Each has its own draw, and you can have either dish at a discounted price if you order at lunch.
9. Shionoe Fujikawa Farm
Shionoe Fujikawa Farm is a small farm located in the city of Takamatsu. At the farm, you can participate in barbecuing and pizza-making, and even take part in making foods like mozzarella cheese, butter, cottage cheese, and ice cream from scratch. Please be aware that you will need to make a reservation beforehand.
5 Recommended Spots in the Takamatsu Station Vicinity
1. Kitahama alley
Kitayama alley is a commercial complex built by renovating an old warehouse located just a 10-minute walk from Takamatsu Station. The retro-look complex includes various shops and restaurants, and is popular as a fashionable, modern venue in the Takamatsu area.
Alley, like its name suggests, has a hole-in-the-wall feel about it, and being situated near the coast, you can enjoy the refreshing sea breeze while shopping. The easy access makes it a convenient location to stop by when you have a bit of spare time.
The Merikenya is an easily found udon restaurant near Takamatsu Station. The interior is spacious, which is convenient when lugging around baggage or if traveling with children. They're open from as early as 7:00 am in the morning, so you can stop by for a healthy breakfast of udon before setting off to explore Takamatsu.
The thick udon noodles have the optimal koshi (a specialized term in regards to the firmness) of good udon, and the soup has an orthodox, mildly sweet flavor. You can add as many toppings of green onions, tenkasu (crunchy bits of deep-fried batter), and ginger as you like, each of which can add a slight variation to the overall flavor. Let your noodles really soak in the soup to get the best flavor.
Setoshirube is the local nickname of the Takamatsu Tamamo Breakwater Lighthouse. The world's first glass lighthouse was built using 1,600 glass blocks, and emits a glowing, red hue. The road leading to the lighthouse is lined by retro streetlights, and is the perfect location for a romantic date.
Setoshirube is an abbreviation of the terms Seto Inland Sea, and the term "michishirube", or a signpost. The red glow becomes more pronounced in the dark of night. It has been named the Lighthouse of Love by the Nippon Romantist Association, and held to be one of the 3 Great Lighthouses of Japan by the YAKEI Convention and Visitors Bureau.
4. Northshore Kagawa
Northshore Kagawa is a cafe adjacent to the Seto Inland Sea offering seats that all have ocean side views. 100 seats are arranged about the spacious interior of the cafe, and the side of the cafe facing the ocean is entirely glass, which contributes to a sense of the openness in the cafe. The food tastes even better when dining out on the terrace seats with the refreshing ocean breeze.
The restaurant serves a variety of healthy Hawaiian foods like pancakes, sandwiches, salad, and acai bowls, made with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Each of the dishes are arranged in a dainty, photogenic manner that is especially popular among women.
5. Sunport Takamatsu
Sunport Takamatsu in the tallest high-rise building in Shikoku (the four provinces that comprise an island south of the main island on Japan), and serves as a large-scale commercial complex with a number of event halls and offices. Recommended eateries include the "Tenku no Restaurant" (Restaurant of the Heavens) with scenic, overlooking views, and the "Ramen Port", where you can enjoy a wide repertoire of flavors.
The tower stands at a height of around 151 meters, and there is an observatory on the 30th floor with free access from which you can gaze down upon the city. The entire floor is surrounded by glass panels, and the thrilling sights are enjoyable for all people regardless of age with a hankering for heights.
A Selection of 5 Recommended Hole-in-the-Wall Spots in Takamatsu
1. Sanuki Kodomo no Kuni
Sanuki Kodomo no Kuni is an interactive museum located just a short ways from Takamatsu Airport, and presents a flexible option as a place to visit even on a rainy day. Between an art workshop where you make crafts out of paper and wood, a music workshop, a science workshop, and a computer workshop, the large-scale children's museum offers all of these activities alongside a close-up view of the airplanes taking off and landing at the nearby Takamatsu Airport.
Enjoy spending time with your children in the various other areas of the museum as well, like the theater with a planetarium, a play area to take off your shoes and play with your young children, and a trench-like waterway where even younger children can splash around safely in the shallow waters during the summer.
2. Ishimaru Seimen Udonmaru
Ishimaru Seimen Udonmaru is a distinguished producer of udon in the Kagawa prefecture, and at this location, they offer free factory tours of how they make their udon. Make a reservation to get a walkthrough of the entire process, which ends in a sampling of the finished product. Afterwards, there is a short movie, and the tour ends with some time to do a little shopping for a palatable gift.
The entire tour takes around an hour, and the 5-meter tall waterwheel at the entrance really stands out. The replica embodies the company's humble beginnings as a mill. Be sure to bring along your camera for a commemorative photo.
3. Nakano Udon Gakko
At Nakano Udon Gakko (school), you can try your hand at making udon from scratch. First you begin by kneading the dough, which is followed by a rolling it out with the menbo (a rolling pin for udon), stomping the dough underfoot, and then finally boiling it in a process that takes from 60 to 90 minutes. You can even take home the kneaded udon dough as a souvenir.
For an additional 200 yen, you can make your udon with the currently trending health product known as uglena. Other than udon-making, there is also a restaurant and a gift shop to buy some Shikoku souvenirs. The facility also has a slope to facilitate access for families with young children in strollers.
4. Aji Ryuozan Park
Aji Ryuozan Park was designed with a theme combining Seto's scenery, artwork, and a closeness with nature. There are various art pieces scattered throughout the park, and the beautiful scenery only adds to the park's relaxing atmosphere, which can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.
The park is still relatively unknown, opening fairly recently in April of 2016. From the observatory perched atop the peak of Ryuozan (a mountain that stands at a height of 239 m), not only can you see the Seto Inland Sea, but also Kagawa's different islands below you. Both the daytime and nighttime views are majestic sights to behold.
5. Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad Co., Ltd.
If you're looking to ride trains in the Kagawa prefecture, you'll likely be taking the Kotoden, or short for Kotohira Electronic Railroad. They sell one-day passes which provide a means to get around in Takamatsu without needing to rent a car. The retro-look train has 4 cars, and the compact design is quite charming. However, having fewer cars can result in crowdedness depending on the time of day.
Another interesting feature is how the train designs differ depending on the season. The mascot characters Koto-chan and Kotomi-chan sometimes make appearances as station officers which your children are sure to get a kick out of! The IC card (smartcard for trains) is known as the "iruka", or dolphin. How about picking one up as a souvenir?
A Trip to Immerse Yourself in Art, Nature, and Delicious Food
These 20 recommendations present the many possible ways to get a good feel for the city of Takamatsu. Being a prefecture known for its udon, it can be quite the task to narrow down your choices to a single place. The region also has much more than udon to offer in terms of cuisine, so be sure to try out other foods as well. Once your hunger is sated, set off to fulfill your aesthetic curiosities with art, oceans, mountains, and the overall abundance of nature in Kagawa. The ease of access to the different attractions is especially convenient, so feel free to explore without concerning yourself with lengthy transportation times and expenses.
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Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.