Our family's trip to Japan was extremely well planned and well executed, on very short notice... Hats off to you!
Kotohira & Takamatsu
Kotohira and Takamatsu lie side by side in the prefecture of Kagawa at the northern tip of Shikoku Island. As the closest point to the Honshu mainland across the sparkling waters of Setouchi inland sea, Takamatsu is a bustling harbor city, home to many cultural sites of importance, among which are remnants of its past as a flourishing feudal castle town. Kotohira, to its southwest, is a small historic town that's home to the largest of the island's shrines, Kotohira Shrine (or Konpira-San), named after the ancient god of sailors, Konpira-gu.
Takamatsu is a city with broad appeal - it's got all the modern diversions of an economic hub, plenty of historic and cultural attractions, and a stunning geographic position to top it off. Meanwhile Kotohira, about a 50-minute drive away, offers an immersive cultural experience within its Shinto shrine complex. The town is also home to the country's oldest surviving kabuki playhouse, the beautifully preserved Kanamaru-za Theater.
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Step into Japan’s theatrical past with a visit to this wonderfully preserved 1835 kabuki playhouse. After falling into disrepair and being used as a cinema, it was declared an Important Cultural Property and restored to its former glory. The theater features a traditional rotating stage with trapdoors, an audience hall and dressing rooms, and still hosts kabuki performances for one month every year.
Wander through Shikoku’s largest and most popular shrine, set on the slopes of Mount Zozu. Comprising a number of ornate wooden halls, the oldest of which dates to 1837, the site scales the side of the mountain, with the inner sanctuary at the top - 1,368 stairs from the main gate. Not as many visitors make it this far up, but those who do are rewarded with beautiful views over Sanuki Plain.
Ritsurin Garden & Tea House
Stroll through the historic lawns of Ritsurin Garden, first established in the early 17th century and opened to the public in 1875. These traditional gardens feature bridges, ponds and various buildings – all meticulously maintained, and earning the site the designation of Special Place of Scenic Beauty. Be sure to see the tea house, one of the oldest structures on site, dating back to 1640.
Explore this ancient temple site, founded as early as the 8th century, with a main hall constructed at the beginning of the 14th century. Located on the top of a hill on a lava plain, the site contains many important cultural artifacts, including battle relics, ancient calligraphy, a Kamakura-era bell and statues of a tanuki (raccoon-dog) god.
Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
See the contemporary works of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi, famous for his bridge in Hiroshima Peace Park and his modernist furniture designs. The site was Noguchi’s home and workshop until it was converted into a museum exhibiting his works after his death. It includes an Edo-period warehouse and a Meiji-period storehouse.
George Nakashima Memorial Gallery
Gain appreciation for another great creative mind with a visit to the memorial gallery of Japanese-American woodworker, designer and architect George Nakashima. Nakashima’s groundbreaking work combines organic forms with geometric angles; the gallery showcases this technique with 60 pieces of furniture on display.
Shikoku Mura Park
Hike through the tranquil parkland of Shikoku Mura Park, where a collection of historic and traditional buildings from the Edo and Meiji periods have been relocated from different parts of the Shikoku, and from the islands of the inland sea. Follow the trails around the grounds and see various architectural styles, old stone and vine bridges, an open-air kabuki theater, an art gallery and more.
Explore the city’s sparkling harbor area – Sunport Takamatsu – a newly developed shopping and dining district with a waterfront promenade and plaza. Symbol Tower - the tallest structure here - boasts highly rated fine-dining restaurants on its top floors, as well as an observatory offering views over Setouchi sea.
Kinashi Bonsai Village
Learn about the famous art of bonsai at Kinashi Bonsai Village, just 15 minutes from the center of Takamatsu. With more than 250 years of history in bonsai tree farming, this village comprises numerous nurseries, most of which focus on Japanese black pine. Get a tour of one of the nurseries and see the entire process, from sapling to painstakingly crafted bonsai tree.
See where Kukai, the famed Buddhist monk was born. This historic temple site, founded in 807 by Kukai’s father, Zentsū Saeki, comprises many revered structures, including a five-tiered pagoda, a golden hall, a bell tower and several torii gates. Various temple treasures are also housed on site.
Experience a side of Japan that very few visitors get to see on this exciting two-week adventure through Kyushu and Shikoku. Enjoy breathtaking hikes in some truly beautiful places, marvel at spectacular scenery and soak up the local culture in these two unique, remote areas of Japan.
This elegant 400-year-old ryokan is situated in the midst of a stunning Japanese garden just a three-minute walk from the center of Kotohira. Offering a broad selection of accommodation, from Japanese-style rooms to stand-alone villas, Kotohira Kadan exceeds the expectations of each and every one of their guests. Kotohira Kadan is renowned for its heartfelt service and atmosphere and has welcomed a number of famous visitors over the years, such as distinguished writers Ogai Mori, Hakushu Kitahara, and Akiko Yosano. Guests may soak their weary muscles at the end of a day of sightseeing in one of ryokan’s large outdoor tubs, which offer breathtaking views of Mt. Sanuki Fuji and Kotohira town. In the evening, guests can sit down to beautifully presented meals of seafood and other local speciality dishes.