Travel to the Island of Shikoku, Japan – Episode 388

categories: asia travel

Hear about travel to the Island of Shikoku, Japan as the Amateur Traveler talks to Dan from Chicago about his recent trip back to the island.

Dan also worked teaching English on Shikoku in the city of Imabari. Shikoku is the 4th largest of the islands in Japan and just across the from Hiroshima. Shikoku is mountainous, more traditional, and more rural than the areas of Japan more tourists know.

Dan recommends you start your visit in Matsuyama. Visit the Matsuyama Castle which is one of only 12 castles left in Japan leftover from the feudal period. He also recommends the Dogo Onsen (hot springs bath). It is large and very old, with baths here dating back 1000 years. It was used to model the bathhouse in the movie “Spirit Away” and was the favorite retreat of author Natsume S?seki who the city is very proud of. Also, visit the Dogo Train Station.

Dan does recommend his old hometown of Imabari. It is not a tourist city per se, but more a “normal” city. Towel manufacturing is a major industry here and the towel museum is an unusually interesting stop. Besides good towel shopping, and towel manufacturing exhibits, it also displays art constructed of towels or created by towel artists. This is an area of Japan where you might get some stares if you don’t look Japanese as it doesn’t get a lot of tourists. Dan also recommends biking across the long bridge that connects Imabari to the main island via a number of smaller islands.

Imabari is also known for Yakitori (chicken on a stick) and the Yakitori Olympics festival. Many cities in Japan have their own festivals and Dan describes getting caught up in one in a story that ends with him riding a horse through town.

Shikoku is also known for a pilgrimage to 88 Buddhist temples on the island. That may be too many temples for most tourists but he does recommend visiting some of the temples along the route.

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Show Notes

Matsuyama Castle
Japan Rail Pass
Dogo Onsen
Towel Museum
Shikoku Pilgrimage


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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

2 Responses to “Travel to the Island of Shikoku, Japan – Episode 388”

Alex | Partial Parallax


wow 88 temples that is just incredible but sounds like a few too many. The island does sound very interesting and somewhat removed from the big tourist areas which can be great. Next time I get to Japan I’ll try to remember this small island no doubt it is quite the contrast to much of Japan

Michael Soncina (@sonchyADV)


I loved this interview. I feel since I lived in the region for a long time and have some experience I should offer some information left out.

For those who are foodies Ehime, the Prefecture where Matsuyama is located is famous for Oranges and Tangerines. They are really cheap and delicious. As well one of the larger cities called Takamatsu is famous for thick Japanese Udon noodles. Locals are really proud of it and eat it every day so be careful not to insult it ahaha.

88 temples is a lot. But I heard there is a temple in a cave near Matsuyama that is terrifying and interesting and every traveler I meet said it is a must visit (unfortunately I had no time to see it). Though if you want to venture into the city there is a Hosteling International hostel near Dogo Onsen. I stayed here and it was fantastic. Since it is used as a residence for those doing the temple pilgrimage they make the most delicious and healthy food. Get the breakfast you wont regret it! Another great temple to visit would be Konpira shrine. Not only is it huge, really interesting and beautiful, but there is a Kabuki museum near the shrine which is awesome. It lets you explore all the aspects of the stage and stands. A real hidden gem.

About Dogo, I have been to Japan 3 times and stayed in a lot of Onsen. I say Dogo is a “Must”. Japan for lack of a word is a manicured country, but as your guest said Shikoku is a bit rustic. The Onsen is a bit foggy and old, but it is full of character. You must visit it if your in Japan few maintain this authentic feel while being in a easy to reach commercial area.

Hope this helps!

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