View of the Inland Sea
This former walled city of the Matsudaira clan has a beautiful Japanese garden and is a good starting point to visit the east of Shikoku.
In the north of Shikoku Island, Takamatsu connects the main island of Honshu with Shikoku. Since 1988, with the construction of the Great Seto Bridge, the journey can be made by car or train, which seems to jump from islet to islet between Takamatsu and Okayama.
A garden at tea time
Ritsurin Koen and its 75 acres of wooded rolling hills, ponds stocked with carp and paved paths, is the local pride. Started in 1625 under the orders of Lord Ikoma Takatoshi, creation of Ritsurin took more than a century, the time to make a superb example of a Japanese garden. In addition to the boutiques and handicraft exhibitions, the Kikugetsu-tei Pavilion offer a zen break in a unique setting: matcha green tea, and a view of a meticulously pruned pine forest. Evolving to the rhythm of the nature that inhabits it, the vast garden is divided into two distinct styles: traditional Japanese to the south and Western to the north.
Leaving the garden, take Chuo-dori, the long shopping street which connects southern Takamatsu to its port, and pass Tamamo Koen park, a short walk from the seafront, which is home to the ruins of Tamamo Castle. Featuring a rare saltwater moat, it is currently under reconstruction, and the foundations of its pretty Tsukimi Yagura tower were completed in 2013. Built and ruled by the Mount Ikoma clan in 1590, it was taken over by the Matsudaira clan and destroyed during the Meiji period.
From the port, you can take a short twenty minute journey to a small island with wooded mountains: Megijima, or Onigashima ("Demon Island"), referring to the famous legend of Momotaro, a boy sent by the gods to fight an evil monster on the island.
To the east, a few minutes away by train, the volcanic plateau of Yashima offers stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea, the site of a famous naval battle between the Minamoto and Taira clans in 1185.
To satisfy an appetite whetted by the sea air, the town's restaurants offer the local specialty: Sanuki udon. These thick noodles in a hot broth are made from wheat grown on the island, and are a reminder that Shikoku is reputed to be an "udon paradise!"