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Explore Japan: Shikoku



Shikoku is Japan's fourth most major island in terms of size and population (pop. 4 million), preceded by Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu. Shikoku means "4 countries", and certainly the island is divided in 4 prefectures, corresponding roughly to the old feudal domains. They are Ehime, Kochi, Tokushima and Kagawa.

Shikoku is usually placed in a second level of importance by both Japanese and foreign tourists due to its remoteness and lack of fascinating attractions. Although it isn't that far from Osaka, transportation inside the island is generally slow, costly and irregular. The town of Takamatsu in Kagawa prefecture possesses one of loveliest garden of Japan called Ritsurin-koen.

Four of Japan's some original castles (as opposed to definite reconstruction) are to be found in Shikoku. They are in the town of Kochi, Marugame, Matsuyama and Uwa-jima. The most picturesque is presumably that of Matsuyama, Ehime's prefectural capital.

If you enjoy of plenty of time and energy, you could visit the Kobo Daishi's 88 Temples Circuit surrounding the island, which is the best viable highlight of Shikoku's traditional (or Buddhist) heritage. It is Japan's most famous pilgrimage, and demands approximately 2 months to walk the 1500km trail. Nothing is a disablement to use public transports or just limit yourself to a part of the circuit, however. One of the most popular stop is Kotohira's Kompira-san Shrine in Kagawa prefecture.

Tokushima is the common starting point of the 88 Temples Circuit, and is reputed for its Awa dances and puppets.

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