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.
Golden Week marks the start of spring, and it can be skin burningly hot, or icy cold, even on the same day. It’s advisable to have shorts and a T-shirt for the heat, and long trousers and long sleeves to protect against both sunburn and sudden cold. But generally, it’s a glorious time of year when the new greenery is out, the varied flowers of Shikoku are blooming, and skies are often blue.
Obon is a Buddhist festival that falls in the middle of summer. The spirits of ancestors are believed to return to the middle world, and ceremonies are held to welcome them back and send them off again. Typically it’s very hot, with high humidity, and going to the beach or the mountains are popular escapes. Shikoku has beaches and mountains in abundance, so many people come here for that. In Shikoku, yukata never really went out of fashion, so you can see many people at festivals in this traditional clothing, and we can introduce you to places that will dress you in yukata too.
New Year is the most significant festive season in Japan. Nearly everyone is on holiday for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. People ring bells at Buddhist temples until the small hours of the eve, and dress in kimono to visit Shinto shrines on the day.
Because many people have left Shikoku to seek their fortunes in the big cities of Honshu, they flock back to their old family homes in Shikoku, by train, plane and car when these holidays come around. They want to experience the old place like tourists. And with them come many people hoping to spend their precious holiday time somewhere different and old-timey. This includes Japanese and people from overseas. Consequently, Shikoku becomes positively crowded at these times. In contrast, normally bustling Tokyo can seem empty.
We don’t want to discourage you from visiting at these times, but you need to be aware that everything becomes more than usually complicated. You want to cycle the Shimanami Kaido at Golden Week? Well, the bicycle booking system is suspended then, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get one. You really need a non-smoking room? Well, that’s going to be very difficult.
So if you want to visit Shikoku at one of these peak times, we strongly recommend that you start thinking about it at least five months ahead. Then we can plan accordingly and get things squared away for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to be flexible. Having said that, we are known for working near-miracles, so don’t hesitate to contact us anyway.