A picturesque port town with gorgeous gardens
Between the calm, blue waters of Seto Inland Sea and the tranquil greenery of Ritsurin Garden, there’s plenty of serenity to be had in Takamatsu. This picturesque port town is a hotbed of modern art, delicious food, fascinating history and beautiful greenery, and serves as a fitting starting point for exploring Shikoku.
Takamatsu is a great city for wandering. Start by traversing the bridges and hills of Ritsurin Garden, and then navigate the seawater moat in Tamamo Park to get to the ruins of Takamatsu Castle. You can also hike up Mt Yashima for incredible views, or get carried in a palanquin up the numerous steps to Konpira-san Shrine.
There’s plenty to explore by boat as well, and Takamatsu’s excellent ferries will take you to local islands such as Megijima and Ogijima. You can also go slightly further afield to check out the famous art islands Naoshima and Teshima, just an hour away.
Things to do: Takamatsu
Take a stroll in Ritsurin Garden
This beautiful garden in the heart of Takamatsu was literally 100 years in the making. Ritsurin Garden was started in 1642 and completed in 1745, and served as a tranquil getaway for feudal lords before being opened to the public in 1875. Today, it’s one of Takamatsu’s most celebrated sights. Take a ride on a traditional wasen boat, grab some matcha tea at one of the three teahouses, or simply find a quiet spot among the trees.
Go island hopping on Megijima and Ogijima
Takamatsu is on the edge of the Seto Inland Sea, and there’s plenty to explore on the islands that are dotted throughout the bay. Take the 20-minute ferry ride out to Megijima Island and visit Onigashima Cave, which, according to legend, is home to a band of ogres. Nearby Ogijima Island is also worth a visit to explore the charming village and lighthouse.
Eat your fill of udon noodles
Thick, chewy sanuki udon noodles are Takamatsu’s speciality. Keep it simple with the classic accompaniments of hot dashi broth, soy sauce, spring onions and colourful kamaboko fish cake, or go wild with additional toppings. Make like the locals and head to a self-service udon restaurant, where you’ll get to assemble your own perfect bowl.
Visit art museums and art islands
Takamatsu punches well above its weight when it comes to art. The modernist architecture of the Takamatsu Art Museum houses some beautiful works, while the serene Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum celebrates the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, best known for designing Hiroshima’s Peace Park. And Naoshima Art Island, famous for Yayoi Kusama’s iconic pumpkin sculptures, is just an hour away on the ferry.
See the city from Mt Yashima
Walk off all that udon with a hike to the top of Mt Yashima, where you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over Takamatsu, as well as the Seto Inland Sea with its myriad picturesque islands. There’s plenty to do at the top – pay a visit to Yashima Temple, one of the 88 temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, or wander around the battle monuments that commemorate the mountain’s (somewhat bloody) history.
Distance to city centre 15km
Taxi A taxi into central Takamatsu takes around 30 minutes and costs about JPY ¥4700.Back to top
When to go
Like most of Shikoku, Takamatsu has warm, humid summers and chilly winters with minimal snowfall. Summers see temperatures in the mid to high 20s with high humidity. During the winter, the mercury gets close to freezing overnight, but stays around 5ºC during the day. May through July is the rainy season, when Takamatsu can see heavy rainfall. Shikoku’s typhoon season is in September, but as Takamatsu is on the sheltered inland sea side, it doesn’t get hit as hard as cities on the Pacific side.
The biggest event of the year is the Sanuki Takamatsu Festival in mid-August. The event runs for three days and features firework displays and parades of thousands of locals performing traditional dances. There’s also a winter festival around Christmas that sees the city brightly lit and rife with dancing Santas.Back to top
Many of Takamatsu's sights are reachable on foot. You can use the local Kotoden trains to get around parts of the city, and Japan Rail trains will connect you to places a bit farther out. Renting a bicycle is a good option, as Takamatsu is very bike friendly – you just need to present a photo ID the first time you rent.Back to top