Top 8 Luxury Shikoku Accommodations for a Safe and Stylish Vacation [2021 Edition]
In this article, we’ll be introducing a series of spectacular accommodations showcasing the best of Shikoku’s nature. This includes unforgettable stays unique to the area, such as traditional Japanese homes converted into private villas overlooking the pristine waters of the Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture. We’ll also cover scenic accommodations with stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea on Shodoshima in Kagawa Prefecture, the ancient Dogo Onsen of Ehime Prefecture, and the lush jungles of Tokushima Prefecture. If you want an insider look into Shikoku’s most remote and luxurious escapes, don’t miss this article!
Aug 16 2021 (Aug 18 2021)
Located in northeastern Shikoku (map), Ehime Prefecture is known for its mild climate and low rainfall owing to its proximity to the Seto Inland Sea. The main highlights include over 200 islands along with the 1,982-meter-tall Mt. Ishizuchi (located in the southern part of central Shikoku), the highest peak in Japan west of the Kinki region.
Ehime is packed with exciting tourist destinations! The first picture above shows the unmanned seaside station of Shimonada Station, which is made up of only an old roof and a bench. The uninterrupted views make it a popular photo spot for tourists from across the globe. The second picture is the Dogo Onsen Honkan bathhouse, located within the Dogo Onsen hot spring village which is said to have over 3,000 years of history. Located in the city of Matsuyama in central Ehime, Dogo Onsen is one of the prefecture’s leading tourist destinations. Its surroundings are equally worth exploring, with the magnificent Matsuyama Castle offering jaw-dropping panoramic views of the encompassing city and the Seto Inland Sea.
okcs Retreat Setouchi Aonagi
okcs Retreat Setouchi Aonagi consists of seven rooms located on a small hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. The above picture is the incredible hotel pool, which is one of the retreat’s main draws. The facility was designed and constructed by world-famous architect Tadao Ando, who summed up the retreat’s appeal with the following:
“This resort was built on a hill to allow people to enjoy the beautiful sight of the over 500 islands dotting Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. To augment this, we added a fabulous pool stretching out towards the sea along with an inner sunken courtyard surrounded by the sky, water, and greenery. Naturally, each room features equally magnificent seaside views.”
“While each individual part has something special, all of them work in tandem to form one single entity. This creates a kind of separate, hidden world that rarely exists anywhere else.”
Tadao Ando is spot on. The beauty of the Seto Inland Sea alongside the marvelous architecture of okcs Retreat Setouchi Aonagi forms a paradise of peace and tranquility tucked away from the rest of the world.
We strongly recommend staying at the two-story “Aonagi Suite,” which boasts the most spectacular views in the entire complex. With floor-to-ceiling windows, guests are treated to an unobstructed portrait of the Seto Inland Sea in all its glory. The upper level contains the bedroom and a bathroom with a jacuzzi, while the lower level, as seen in the first and second photos above, holds the living room complete with a sofa and table.
The first picture above shows the semi open-air natural "Hot Spring Suite" equipped with a lie-down bath where you can bring in drinks to properly unwind. The second picture displays the "4-Bed Suite," which has two separate bedrooms. Both are also highly recommended.
Dinner at Aonagi is "Kaiseki" course style, built around the theme of “the sights of the Seto Inland Sea.” Each dish is carefully selected to represent a unique aspect of the area and is pleasing to both taste and behold.
With such a wonderful facility encompassed by the best nature Japan has to offer, a few quiet nights here will utterly obliterate stress and fatigue.
In addition, if you make a reservation through the retreat’s official website, you’ll receive the following perks:
• Best rate guarantee
• One free hour at the indoor private pool all to yourself
• A bottle of sparkling wine, for free!
Plus the option to rent out the entire complex.
CHAHARU Hanare Dogo Yumekura
Dogo Onsen is Japan’s oldest and most celebrated hot spring area. Sitting just 60 meters or a minute’s walk away from its oldest bathhouse—Dogo Onsen Honkan—is the CHAHARU Hanare Dogo Yumekura inn. Every room within this inn is fitted with a private bath, allowing one to relish the local gentle hot spring water in peace.
Although each room has its own fantastic bath, the Yukiya penthouse villa bath stands out. Furnished with recycled wood, its intimate chic Japanese aesthetic bursts with cozy character and stylish charm. Equipped with three bedrooms and a wooden bathroom, you’ll be able to enjoy the beloved hot spring waters of Dogo Onsen to your heart’s content!
All other rooms are equipped with bathtubs crafted from Ehime Prefecture’s Tobe porcelain. Each is totally unique, allowing guests to find a bath that suits their taste.
Dinner consists of a nourishing French course meal at the Quatre-Cinq restaurant. From the basic “MODE” course, one can easily upgrade to the “La passion,” “E’motion,” or the top-tier “Reconnaissance” course. Naturally, every course uses only the finest seasonal ingredients.
Breakfast consists of invigorating salads and smoothies made from natural local ingredients.
In addition, because CHAHARU is virtually next door to Dogo Onsen Honkan, it’s perfectly located for sightseeing!
Located in eastern Shikoku (map), Tokushima Prefecture is a rugged land of roughly 80% mountains, with each region experiencing a vastly different climate.
The first picture above shows one of Tokushima’s most famous natural wonders, the Oboke and Koboke crystalline schist canyons, which stretch for about 8 km. While once considered perilous, the rivers here are now full of boats and pleasure cruises safely passing through and touring the sights. The second picture displays the Naruto Whirlpools, one of the three largest tidal currents in the world. Growing up to 20 m in diameter with speeds of 20 km/h during spring and autumn tides, these dynamic forces of nature have become a popular tourist destination able to be admired up close from a sightseeing ship.
Other Tokushima highlights include Iya Valley, one of Japan’s three great unexplored regions, along with the Awa Odori Festival, a widely celebrated traditional dance festival. With so many points of interest, traditions, and activities, Tokushima has something to offer everyone!
*The Awa Dance Festival takes place in mid-August (in 2021, it’ll be held from August 12 to August 14).
Tougenkyo Iya no Yamazato
As mentioned, Iya Valley is one of Japan’s three great unexplored regions. Within this terrain, the village of Ochiai sits upon mountainous slopes dotted by traditional thatched roof houses made from materials like pampas grass, reed, and straw. Tougenkyo Iya no Yamazato has transformed seven of these houses into luxury guest villas to create a hidden oasis overseen by the renowned scholar of Japanese culture Alex Arthur Kerr.
Thatched roof houses are surprisingly durable and waterproof while also allowing in air for optimal ventilation. They also boast sound, thermal, and moisture insulating properties, keeping them cool in summer and warm in winter. The interior of these villas are sleek and modern, with traditional Japanese flourishes like “irori” fireplaces to showcase cultural roots. Offering some of the most unspoiled sights in the country, the view from these villas is unlike anything else in Japan.
While the design of each villa is different, all of them feature IH stoves, air-conditioning, floor heating, and other amenities such as bathroom essentials and a set of spices in the kitchen. Excluding the Yukyo* villa with its tatami straw mat bed, all are equipped with futon mattresses stored in the cupboard for guests to lay out themselves. With a seamless mix of Japanese aesthetic and contemporary comfort, Tougenkyo Iya no Yamazato has mastered the art of merging tradition and modernity.
* “Japanese-Style Townhouse 5" at Booking.com or “Japanese-Style Townhouse 6” at Agoda.
As the design of each villa is different, you can choose one that best suits your individual tastes. All offer deep insight into the tumultuous mountain terrain and weather, allowing a glimpse into a truly wild and untouched Japan. On clear days, you can admire it all from the comfort of the terrace or garden.
As Tougenkyo Iya no Yamazato is atop a windy, remote mountain road, we recommend traveling via taxi. Be aware that there are no convenience stores or supermarkets in the area to buy food or drinks, so don’t forget to prepare beforehand. During winter (December to March), there are times when it’s impossible to access the retreat due to heavy snowfall, which can result in sudden cancellations.
Despite this, for those with an adventurous heart longing to discover a new side of Japan, we cannot recommend Tougenkyo Iya no Yamazato highly enough!
Iya Onsen is a single-building hotel resting amongst the untouched Iya Valley boasting some of the best hot spring baths around. Built alongside a gigantic V-shaped gorge, its views are second-to-none!
The first picture above is the hotel’s open-air bath located alongside the Iya River, which can be accessed via a private cable car (second picture above). The bath water here is sourced from a natural hot spring located deep under the bottom of the valley. Needless to say, unwinding in a natural outdoor bath beside a gigantic mountain river is the epitome of luxury! The bath’s rich, turbid waters will leave your skin feeling clean and smooth, almost as if you’ve been washed with soap.
There are a total of 20 rooms in the hotel, with no two exactly the same. One can choose from five main room types, including the much-sought-after Tamayura room, also called “The Suite Above the Clouds,” which has an open-air bath and foot bath. Of course, every room offers spectacular views of Iya Valley.
The kaiseki dinner banquet treats guests to locally-grown vegetables alongside Iya wagyu, one of Tokushima’s premium beef varieties. You can also further upgrade to the Awa Special Kaiseki course, which includes local Awa wagyu beef, local venison roast, and rare "amego" river trout. The second picture above shows the local Tokushima chicken breed "Awaodori" steamed with seasonal vegetables, creating a dish packed with umami enhanced by a spicy miso sauce. The hotel also serves Sudachi Ayu (sweetfish with sudachi citrus) between June and September.
Located in northeastern Shikoku (map), Kagawa is Japan’s smallest prefecture. However, it more than makes up for its size with an extensive history and fascinating sightseeing, including the island of Shodoshima, which is known for its soy sauce, olive oil, and the “Angel Road” (first picture above) which only appears during certain times. The second picture shows Konpira Shrine, also known as Sanuki Konpira-san, which features a staggering 785 stone steps connecting its entrance and main hall. Kagawa is also celebrated for its distinctive coastal climate along with the diverse nature and history born from its bounties.
As Kagawa Prefecture receives little rainfall, its farming industry revolves around wheat instead of water-hungry rice. It’s also why reservoir ponds are such a common sight. From this, Kagawa udon noodles made from local wheat, known as “Sanuki udon,” (“Sanuki” being the ancient name for Kagawa) were born. They are extraordinarily tasty and now widely celebrated throughout Japan. Other famous local cuisine includes grilled bone-in chicken thigh, amongst others.
Umioto Mari is a luxury accommodation located in a small village along the Seto Inland Sea on the island of Shodoshima (accessible via a 1 hour ferry ride from Takamatsu Port from the Shikoku mainland). Here one can truly escape the hustle and bustle of mainland Japan in favor of a relaxing, quiet paradise surrounded by the sights of the tranquil Seto Inland Sea.
We recommend staying at the “SA no Oto” villa. Fixed with a private bath, this modern Japanese accommodation was constructed from local wood and is perfectly positioned to offer guests sprawling views of the Seto Inland Sea. We also recommend the “TO no Oto” villa, which also comes with a scenic bath.
Regardless of which you get, the stress built up from your normal everyday routine is sure to melt away when you sit by the terrace of one of these villas to admire the ever-changing sea in front of you.
Dinner consists of the “Olive Kaiseki” course, which uses rich, freshly pressed Shodoshima olive oil enhanced by spices prepared at the retreat. The array of flavors available through pairing Shodoshima olive oil with a variety of ingredients is exciting and worth trying.
While staying at Umioto Mari, don’t miss the chance to take your relaxation to the next level through the heavenly “Shimajuku” relaxation and beauty treatment service, which makes use of local olive oil and hot basalt stones.
Within the hundreds of islands that make up Japan, time flows a little slower at smaller getaways like Shodoshima, making it the perfect place to discover the bliss of privacy and relaxation.
Seaside Villa SASAO
Located 30 minutes by car from Takamatsu in central Kagawa, the 200 m² Seaside Villa SASAO sits upon a plateau in the northernmost area of Shikoku. In addition to a spacious living area, the villa has access to a sprawling garden offering breathtaking views of the Seto Inland Sea.
Of particular note are the views from the garden and the spacious wooden deck. Lit up magnificently at night, here guests can thoroughly soak in the starry sky and the lights of the fishing boats adorning the enchanting Seto Inland Sea. The deck is also equipped with a barbecue grill, allowing for fun and delicious outdoor cooking!
The bedroom, which offers beds of three different sizes, also looks out over breathtaking ocean views.
The airy living room features a wood fireplace, allowing authentic wood-fired pizza and other dishes. With a hammock and plenty of deck chairs, relaxing has never been easier!
This villa comes especially recommended for families.
Kochi Prefecture is located in southwestern Shikoku (map). The first picture above is Kochi Castle, home to one of Japan’s 12 surviving castle towers. Excluding the tower, the castle was rebuilt in 1753. Standing unchanged for over 260 years, it remains as one of Kochi’s most prominent landmarks. The prefecture also houses a myriad of natural wonders like the Shimanto River, the longest river in Shikoku dotted by low water bridges, along with the Niyodo River, which boasts the clearest waters in all of Japan.
Kochi also hosts the Yosakoi Festival*, which runs every year over four days from August 9 to August 12 and hosts over 20,000 dancers. This is complemented by a tapestry of amazing tourist destinations, events, and food, such as “katsuo tataki” (skipjack tuna that's been lightly grilled over a straw fire).
* The 2021 festival has been cancelled.
Shimanto Riverside Hideaway
Standing beside the above-mentioned Shimanto River, Shimanto Riverside Hideaway is a traditional Japanese house that has been masterfully renovated into a villa. Guests can choose to either rent out the entire building or share it with up to two other groups.
Encompassed by traditional rural landscapes, staying at Shimanto Riverside Hideaway instantly transports one back to the days of old Japan. The second picture above showcases the famous Takase Submersible Bridge*, which is located just a 5-minute walk from the hotel.
*Since the bridge is very narrow and has no railing, it should not be crossed by car. Please cross it on foot or on a bicycle.
Since the villa used to be an actual home, it’s overflowing with authentic Japanese charm. The first picture above shows the "endai" corridor, a staple of Japanese homes typically built from wood on the outer edge of a house allowing easy access to the garden. Here the beauty of Japan’s four seasons is perfectly captured, allowing one to forget all worldly troubles and delve into the calming essence of nature. Free Wi-Fi is also available throughout.
If you’re not renting out the entire building, you can choose between three rooms: the tatami room with a garden view (up to 3 guests), the twin bedroom (up to 2 guests), or the detached bedroom (up to 2 guests).
Guests can either cook their own dinner in the kitchen or order when making their reservations. While the second picture above is for illustrative purposes only, it features a perfect example of lightly roasted katsuo tataki (center of the picture). Being an iconic Kochi dish, definitely give it a try if you get the chance!
On clear nights, attention turns to the starry sky and the calming whisper of the Shimanto River. Surrounded by nature, you'll be in for an experience like no other. During the day, mountain bikes and such can be rented, along with a collection of activities available to be booked. For more details, please check the official website.
Located a 30-minute car ride from Kochi City, Auberge Tosayama is a French-style inn and restaurant hidden amongst the mountainous Tosayama region, from where the crystal clear Kagami River flows. Surrounded by nature deep in the mountainous center of Kochi, the village of Tosayama still retains its rustic charm.
To get to Auberge Tosayama, use the free shuttle bus* at Orient Hotel Kochi (map).
* Reservation required. Departs at 3:00 pm. Please check the official website for more details.
Auberge Tosayama has been meticulously designed to encourage guests to relax and enjoy the surrounding sights from the very heart of nature itself.
Dinner consists of Tosayama vegetables and eggs from renowned Tosa Jiro chickens, which are known for their rich and delicious yolks. The full course is made entirely from local ingredients designed to capture the essence of Tosayama, changing with the seasons for a unique feast every time.
Auberge Tosayama consists of four private villas (one of them pictured above), accessible via a suspension bridge over the Kagami River. There is also a hotel wing with 12 twin rooms, which likewise offers amazing views of nature.
Have a Peaceful Nature Retreat in Shikoku
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our selection of eight luxury hotels in Shikoku! Being a comparatively difficult place to travel to, the Shikoku region took quite some time to become the popular tourist destination it is today. However, this remoteness has allowed untouched wonder to prosper, waiting to be discovered by the adventurous traveler. Within this is also an incredible selection of gorgeous accommodations striving tirelessly to provide guests with the ultimate Shikoku experience. Use this guide and find the perfect base for your Shikoku getaway!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.