Finally, we made our first trip to the island of Shikoku in Japan. Shikoku is is one of the four main islands of Japan, the other three being Hokkaido, Honshu, and Kyushu. There are 4 prefectures (Kagawa, Ehime, Tokushima, Kochi) on Shikoku and is well connected to the Honshu main land by multiple suspension bridges.
We rented a car in Kobe and drove into Shikoku via Awaji, a small island that lies between Tokushima and Hyogo prefecture. Immediately we were greeted with a huge ferris wheel upon entering the island, and we were surprised to find that the place is actually a highway rest stop! Japan has some of the nicest rest stop and this one is definitely the best.
Awaji island itself has several attractions that is worth visiting. One of them is the newly opened Naruto Themepark and the Hello Kitty Smile Cafe. Unfortunately, our itinerary were too packed to squeeze in a themepark visit.
Hello Kitty Smile Cafe
The Hello Kitty Smile cafe and restaurant is only a 30 minutes drive from the northern end of Awaji Island. As expected, there weren’t too many people on this weekday afternoon and we have all the chance to take photos and videos.
Next destination is the Ritsurin Garden at Kagawa prefecture. A spacious garden with many ponds and small bridges with a variety of landscape. Ritsurin Garden sits next to a long shopping street linking to the Takamatsu castle.
Iya Valley – Kazubarashi bridge
The Iya valley is a mountainous valley in Tokushima prefecture. We had to drive long hours to get to this remote place but the adventure we had there was well worth it.
Crossing the Kazubarashi bridge, a suspension bridge made only with mountains vines. There are only 3 vines bridge remaining along Iya valley today. Kazubarashi is the biggest and most popular one among them.
A cool waterfall can be found behind the vine bridge. Great place to have a grilled fish while enjoying the scenery.
Giant Cedar Tree
Sugi-no-Osugi is a destination we learnt from a TV programme. Found in Osugi town in Kochi, this tree is known to be the tallest Cedar in Japan and is over 3000 years old.
A small shrine is built around the Sugi-no-Osugi for worshippers to pay their respect to this holy tree.
It started drizzling once we reached the shrine and had only minutes to quickly take some photos and videos.
Ryoma Sakamoto Museum
We usually would avoid museums or galleries or similar artistic/historic places when we travel. However, the Ryoma Sakamoto museum is one that I wouldn’t miss, especially since we are in the Kochi area.
Ryoma Sakamoto is a prominent historic figure in Japan history and is always one of the most popular icon among elementary school children. The museum showcased many of Sakamoto’s handwritten letters and items used by him. It was a great experience to learn more about the man who lead the change to Japan in the 1800s.
Chichibugahama beach is becoming popular among tourists in recent years as the place to take natural mirror photos like those in Salar Uyuni in Bolivia.
In cool calm weather, tide pools will be formed on the beach which will reflect the sunset sky under low tide. This is the best time to take mirror photos like the above.
From our research, we thought the Chichibugahama is a lesser known destination. However, we were wrong and were shocked to see so many people along the beach waiting for the spot and moment to capture that perfect shot.
In total, we spent 4 days 3 nights in Shikoku with a majority of the time driving around. The island is much bigger than we thought and driving on highways is more expensive than we had budgeted for. It was still a fun trip and we will definitely come back for more to visit other POI that we missed.
Besides the above, we also visited the Naruto Whirlpool in Tokushima, a Yokai museum (also a rest stop), Kochi Castle, and many shopping and food streets. It is always good to try local cuisine in Japan.