11 Reasons to Visit Shikoku, Japan

Shikoku is the smallest of Japan's four main islands, and the last to be linked physically to the main Japanese island. Consequently, its traditional character is still much in evidence in the form of beautiful buildings from past eras, pastoral scenery, old sake breweries, and Shinto festivals to mark the passing seasons. The Buddhist Shikoku Henro pilgrimage also draws visitors from around the world. Here we attempt to summarize the myriad reasons to visit Shikoku into just eleven.

Uwajima-Unyu Ferries ship launch

Uwajima-Unyu Ferries offers one of the major links to Shikoku with its ferry service between Beppu and Usuki in Kyushu, and Yawatahama on Shikoku. The Shimanami Kaido is another important link, with a road traversing the Geiyo Islands between Honshu and Shikoku. On September 7 (Thursday), Uwajima-Unyu Ferries will launch a new ferry at a shipyard on Ikuchijima, one of the islands of the Shimanami Kaido. Shikoku Tours is offering a tour to see this exclusive ceremony.

Shikoku accommodation sitting room

As home to the Shikoku Pilgrimage with a history going back over 1,200 years, Shikoku is a hospitable place. The people of Shikoku are used to looking after visitors. Shikoku has an amazing variety of accommodation, and here we'll look at everything from guesthouses and pilgrim's lodgings to high-end ryokan. We can book you whatever accommodation you like for your trip, but we want you to know what to expect.

Tairyu-ji Kobo Daishi statue

Anan is a small city in Tokushima Prefecture. Within the boundary of the city lies Cape Gamoda, a small peninsula that juts out into the Kii Channel, which separates Tokushima on Shikoku, and Wakayama on Honshu. Gamoda is the easternmost point of Shikoku and residents of the island who care for such things visit here on New Year’s morning to greet the first sun of the year. At the tip of the peninsula is a small hill cloaked in windswept trees and topped with a lighthouse. From here you can see Awaji Island and the expanse of the Kii Channel which opens into the Pacific.

Kobo Daishi statue Ishite-ji

As home to the Shikoku Pilgrimage, one of the few circular pilgrimages in the world, the island of Shikoku is itself one big power spot, which draws people from around the world to walk the pilgrim’s path between the 88 Buddhist pilgrimage temples. But this aside, there are many individual sites on Shikoku that are known as power spots.

Japanese calendar

The peak periods for Shikoku are the same as for the rest of Japan, but the implications can be slightly different in Shikoku.

For Japan as a whole and for Shikoku, the peak periods of travel are in the Golden Week period from April 28 to May 5, Obon from August 11 to 20, and New Year from December 28 to January 5.