Posts Tagged ‘takamatsu’

Kotohira Shrine, Shikoku

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

The Kotohira Shrine in Kagawa on Shikoku Island is famous for its steps. Its 1368 steps! It isn’t as bad as it sounds though, and if you are visiting Takamatsu and have seen the obvious sites (Ritsurin Park, Tamamo Castle), then consider going to the Kotohira Shrine (also known as Konpira-San) next. It is one of Japan’s most famous Shinto shrines.

Get the Kotoden train (the right one!) from Kawaramachi station in Takamatsu’s Tenmaya department store and go to the end of the line. Outside the station you’ll see this imposing wood and stone building.

kotohira shrine konpira san 01

Head towards the mountain and you’ll find the beginning of the steps. At this early stage of the climb there are loads of shops and food places on either side. You can buy snacks, udon, ice cream, and even imitation samurai swords and air pistols! Many people will buy a stick from here to help them with the climb.

kotohira shrine konpira san 02

You can pay (for a hefty price) to be carried up the steps by two tired looking locals on a chair.

kotohira shrine konpira san 03

Don’t let the step count intimidate you though – it isn’t that bad. There were plenty of elderly people, and children making their way up when I was there. There are loads of areas to stop off on the way so you can take lots of breaks. Just don’t try it on a really hot day – you’ll suffer!

kotohira shrine konpira san 04

As you go up there are a variety of statues, shrines, and other buildings for you to look at.

kotohira shrine konpira san 05

Part way up and the view is starting to look good.

kotohira shrine konpira san 06

Through a torri gate, and towards another flight of steps.

kotohira shrine konpira san 07

There are some interesting items to look at. Including a large gold coloured propeller.

kotohira shrine konpira san 08

kotohira shrine konpira san 09

And a wood covered area housing some kind of boat, and a man performing some kind of ceremony.

kotohira shrine konpira san 10

More steps – can’t be long to go now.

kotohira shrine konpira san 11

And finally – the highest point you can go.

kotohira shrine konpira san 12

Here’s the view from near the top of the stairs.

kotohira shrine konpira san 13

And then of course I have to go back down the steps. There are a lot of steps, but all the interesting stops on the way up, and the views take your mind off it. If elderly people and school children can manage it, then as long as you have a basic level of fitness you should have no trouble.

Megijima Island Takamatsu

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Megijima Island is a small island visible from the Sunport harbour area of Takamatsu. It is just 4km away, has an area of 2.66km and a population of about 200 people. The island is also known as ‘Monster’s Island’ or ‘Devil’s Island’!

megijima island kagawa 02

There is a legend that the mythical character Momotaro made an appearance on the island many years ago. This conveniently has allowed the people of Megijima to create a monster themed tourist attraction in its caves!

To get there you’ll need to take the ferry from Takamatsu harbour. The ferry is every hour or two from 8am until 19:15pm and takes just 20 minutes to get there.

megijima island kagawa 01

Once on Megijima it became clear that we hadn’t done our research because we didn’t have a clue where to go, and there were no signs in English. But somehow we ended up paying money to a man, and got into his people carrier car with another Japanese family. He was going to take us up to the caves and back.

We drove up the hill, and when we reached the caves had to buy entry tickets from a ticket machine there. The man then took us all into the caves.

megijima island kagawa 03

He proceeded to give us a tour of the caves – all in Japanese. The Japanese family were able to understand it, but we weren’t. I’m sure he was explaining about the legend and the monsters. Inside the cave are many plastic model monsters in various poses.

megijima island kagawa 04

Some of them I recognised from elsewhere around Kagawa.

megijima island kagawa 05

megijima island kagawa 06

In total I think we spent about 15-20 minutes in the caves taking photos of the monsters.

megijima island kagawa 07

Once out he took us on a short walk up to Washigamine Summit which has a 360 degree viewing platform. From there you can see the Seto Inland Sea, Takamatsu, and many of the other Seto Sea islands.

megijima island kagawa 08

megijima island kagawa 09

He then drove us back down the hill, and we stopped off at the coast, where we could get another view of the Seto Inland sea.

megijima island kagawa 10

We could also see the next boat which we were hoping to get! Just in time we all got back inside the car and he drove us back to the port. If it had been a warmer day we could have spent a few hours walking around the island (the coastline is only 8.9km). But it was cold, so we got onto this ferry and headed back to Takamatsu. From Megijima there are ferries going to both Takamatsu and Ogijima so make sure you get the right one.

Yashima Aquarium and temple

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

To the East of the Takamatsu Sunport area is the Yashima 屋島 flat top mountain. You can’t miss it as it is visible for miles around and is distinctive in shape.

yashima flat top mountain takamatsu

You can get there by Kotoden train from Kawaramachi station. Just outside the Kotoden Yashima station you can get a shuttle bus to the top. On the plateau you’ll find an aquarium and a temple, as well as a number of abandoned hotels. You’ll also get a great view across Takamatsu and the Seto Inland Sea from the plateau which is 293m above sea level.

yashima takamatsu 01

yashima takamatsu 02

Yashima Aquarium

First I went to the Yashima aquarium (or the ‘New Yashima Aquarium’ as they are calling it. They claim it is home to 300 types of fish. There are many tanks of multi-coloured fish and other sea creatures.

yashima aquarium takamatsu 03

yashima aquarium takamatsu 09

As well as the static fish tanks they have a dolphin show, and a sea lion show.

yashima aquarium takamatsu 05

yashima aquarium takamatsu 04

You can spend quite a few hours here looking at the fish, and watching the shows. Children especially will appreciate the aquarium if they are getting fed up with all the cultural sites in the area!

yashima aquarium takamatsu 06

yashima aquarium takamatsu 08

yashima aquarium takamatsu 10

Yashima Shrine

Very close to the aquarium on the top of Yashima is the Yashimaji Temple. This is one of the 88 temples in the Shikoku Island 88 temple pilgrimage. You can spend 10-15 minutes here looking around.

yashima takamatsu 11

yashima takamatsu 12

Other attractions in Yashima

If you are making a visit to Yashima you might also want to visit the Shikoku-Mura museum which is at the foot of the mountain. Click the link to read my review of it.

Shikoku-Mura open air museum at Yashima, Takamatsu

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Shikoku-Mura 四国村 is an open air museum / art village situated at the base of Yashima Mountain in Takamatsu. Thirty three traditional buildings from all over Shikoku Island Japan have been reconstructed here. Shikoku-Mura is a 6-7 minute walk from the Kotoden Yashima station which can be reached via Takamatsu’s centrally located Kawaramachi station.

shikoku mura museum water wheel 08

The first installations you’ll see when you enter (¥800 for adults, free/¥300/¥400/¥500 for children depending on age) are the water wheel and the the vine bridge. You can walk across the vine bridge but you’ll have to be careful – there are some big gaps between the planks of wood. If you don’t fancy walking over it you can take the parallel pathway.

shikoku mura museum vine bridge 04

On the left below is the Shodoshima Farmers’ Kabuki Theatre.

shikoku mura museum 07

As well as admiring the traditional buildings from the outside, most of them can be viewed from the inside too.

shikoku mura museum 03

Following the path for the first half of the open air village is all uphill, so you might need to take a few breaks if it is a hot summer’s day.

shikoku mura museum 10

Right near the top is a lighthouse from Okunoshima, and three different lighthouse keepers’ houses from around Shikoku. You can get a good view of parts of Takamatsu from the top.

shikoku mura museum lighthouse 09

In one of the houses is a very nice resting area where you can get iced Japanese tea, and ice cream whilst sitting on tatami mats.

shikoku mura museum 06

There are many water features around the village, including waterfalls, a waterwheel and a rice milling machine powered by water.

shikoku mura museum 05

The way down from the top is much easier than the way up, just try not to get bitten by insects – you are surrounded by trees and water so you need to be careful.

shikoku mura museum 01

I can highly recommend Shikoku-Mura for a good half a day of sightseeing. If you are looking to fill the other half of the day without going far there is an aquarium and temple on the top of the mountain (you can get a bus to the top), and there is a shrine next to Shikoku-Mura as well.

shikoku mura museum 02

Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu Japan

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Ritsurin Park 栗林公園 is one of Takamatsu’s top tourist attraction, and is also one of the best and most beautiful gardens in Japan.

ritsurin park takamatsu 22

It is situated to the South West of Takamatsu’s main centre, and is easily reachable by the Kotoden tram, bike, or walking. Walking from Kawaramachi will take less than 30 minutes.

Ritsurin Park has 6 ponds and 13 hills. The park is next to Mt. Shiun which provides an impressive backdrop to the gardens.

ritsurin park takamatsu 26

Standard admission is ¥400, but admission is free on January 1st and March 16th (the park’s anniversary). You get given a map with two suggested overlapping routes around the park. There is a red route, and a blue route which each take about an hour.

ritsurin park takamatsu 20

The gardens are full of trees, plants and flowers, ponds and waterfalls. You’ll also find a craft museum, a tea house, and some koi ponds.

ritsurin park takamatsu montage 2

As well as the koi you might spot turtles, birds and dragonflies if it is the right time of year. You might be wise to spray yourself with insect spray before visiting to keep mosquitoes at bay.

ritsurin park takamatsu 21

You can do a quick tour of the park in one hour, but to do it justice you need at least three. If you want to stop for tea at the tea house and see the museum you should allow three hours.

ritsurin park takamatsu 23

As well as the photos on this page I have another two pages of photos. Links are near the bottom of the post.

ritsurin park takamatsu 24

ritsurin park takamatsu 25

ritsurin park takamatsu 27

Below is the tea room where you can have standard green tea, or the more traditional powdered variety.

ritsurin park takamatsu 17

Got to the next page (1 | 2 | 3)

Shionoe Firefly Festival in Takamatsu

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Every year Shionoe (塩江) hosts a festival in honour of the glowing firefly insects which appear in the area. Shionoe is in the outer Takamatsu (高松) area of the Kagawa (香川) prefecture in Japan. The fireflies are found around the river area where the festival is held. In 2010 it was held on Saturday 12th June.

shionoe firefly festival figure

This map shows the rough locations of Takamatsu’s Kawaramachi 瓦町 bus station (North pin on the map) and the Shionoe-cho 塩江町 firefly festival (South pin on the map).


View Shionoe (塩江) Firefly Festival in a larger map

shionoe bus there and back

To get there we could either take the 53 bus from stop 4 of Kawaramachi bus station, or the same bus from stop 10 of the Takamatsu bus station (near the train station). The journey is about an hour, and for almost all the buses Shionoe is the last stop (be careful if you get on a bus where it isn’t!).

When you get to Shionoe make sure you check how to get back – the buses back to Takamatsu usually finish quite early (around 7pm) but they should run later on Firefly festival day.

Near to the bus stop were loads of pictures that local children had drawn of the fireflies.

firefly festival children's art

The festival area is only a few minutes walk from the bus stop. Just follow everyone else. You’ll need to go over the river on the small foot bridge.

river in shionoe

Inside the festival are lots of food stalls (plenty of meat, fish, ice cream, drinks, toys). And there was some kind of stage show, with what looked like people dressed as power rangers!

shionoe firefly festival

shionoe festival food

One of the highlights of the festival is a chance to see some fireflies. They have a darkened tent that you can go in to see them. I think the tent opened at about 6pm, so that might be a good time to arrive at the festival. There was a big queue but it moved very quickly.

First you go through one set of tent flaps, where it gets dark. And then you go through another set where it gets even darker. In here the fireflies are kept behind netting. You can see them flashing on and off with a green luminescence. They look a bit like little LEDs turning on and off.

You certainly aren’t allowed to use flashes in here (I think it scares them – and it would ruin the atmosphere), but I was able to take some non-flash photos (I turned off the viewfinder so that my camera wouldn’t give out any light).

Most of the photos were completely black, but in a few of the shots were small green dots. I’ve blown one of the dots up so you can see the colour!

firefly in dark tent shionoe

This is a fun little festival if you want to get outside the main city. I’d say you can see it all in about an hour – but you could stretch it to two hours if you ate some food, and did things slowly.

Vegetarian friendly restaurants in Takamatsu, Japan

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Takamatsu 高松 is a city in the Kagawa prefecture 香川県 of Shikoku Island (Japan’s 4th island). It is always hard to find vegetarian food in Japan, but it gets more difficult the more off the usual tourist trail you are.

If you should find yourself in Takamatsu (高松) here are some restaurants where you will be able to find a few vegetarian dishes. A map showing where the restaurants are is at the bottom of this post.

Thali Spice – Nepali and Indian Restaurant

Thali Spice is located in the long covered shopping arcade. The entrance is on the ground floor and the restaurant is on the floor above. As the main restaurant is upstairs you’ll have to be careful not to walk straight past it.

thali spice indian restaurant takamatsu

They serve plenty of vegetarian Indian and Nepalese cuisine including set thalis, and chana masala. They do a set lunch which is really good value for money, and if you can get one of their discount cards you’ll save even more.

The staff are always friendly, and there is a good atmosphere in the restaurant. A good place to go for a cheap lunch, or a proper filling meal.

There is also a Thali Spice counter in the food court of the Youme Town shopping centre.

Dear – Italian

There are two Dear Italian restaurants in Takamatsu. There is a small one in the Tenmaya department store, but the main larger one is in the Sunport Tower. I’m reviewing the larger Sunport Tower restaurant.

Italian cuisine in Japan isn’t as good as Indian for vegetarian options, but is still much safer than the native Japanese food! In Dear you’ll be able to get some fairly plain pizzas that are safe for you to eat. Unfortunately though all the pastas are made with chicken stock so you won’t be able to eat these (and when we asked they said they were unable to make the pastas without the stock).

dear italian restaurant takamatsu

The Sunport Tower ‘Dear’ does have an English menu but if you don’t get it then you’ll find it useful to be able to read Katakana so you can see which pizzas you can eat. They have a margarita, and a few of the other pizzas can be ordered without their meat if you can speak Japanese.

Spacca Napoli – Italian restaurant

Spacca Napoli is a Naples style Italian restaurant. It is down a small street just North from Tenmaya. A Japanese guy who trained in Naples runs the restaurant. That combined with the proper wood burning oven makes this the most authentic Italian in Takamatsu. It is not as authentic as the real thing (they use tinned mushrooms), but they do use other real Italian ingredients such as mozzarella.

spacca napoli italian restaurant takamatsu

It is very small and popular so you might have to wait to get a table but if you want a tasty pizza then this is a good bet.

For vegetarians the best thing to do is to order a plain margarita and then add extra vegetable topping to make the pizza more interesting.

Sri Balaji – South Indian

Update 27th November 2011: Sri Balaji Takamatsu has now closed.

Wherever you are in the world one of your safest bets for getting vegetarian food will always be an Indian restaurant.

Sri Balaji, located in the Sunport Symbol Tower by the harbour in Takamatsu serves genuine South Indian dishes. You will be able to find masala dosa, mutter paneer and naans amongst many other dishes.

Sri Balaji south indian restaurant takamatsu

They cook the dishes with authentic Indian spices such as curry leaves and mustard seeds – these aren’t easy to get in Japan if you are into your Indian cooking!

The food is delicious and Sri Balaji became one of my regular restaurants whilst I was in Takamatsu. If you are a regular they have a stamp card which will get you money off a meal if you get enough stamps.

Vegetable buffet restaurant

I don’t know what this place is called (it has a Japanese name that I can’t fully read), but you can easily find it above the Franc Franc to the South of the large dome which is by the Mitsukoshi department store.

vegetable restaurant above franc franc takamatsu

They do a really good (mainly vegetable) buffet for lunch, although there is also meat, fish, udon and rice as well. As well as the pre-prepared food you can also choose some raw vegetables, and they will turn them into tempura for you.

vegetable restaurant above franc franc food takamatsu

They do put fish dashi and other animal extracts in some of the vegetable dishes, so if you can speak Japanese ask one of the staff to tell you which plates are safe.

Udon

Kagawa is famous for its Sanuki udon (a bit like thick spaghetti – usually served as a soup) so it would be a shame to miss out. In the covered shopping arcade are a few udon places that do yudame. Yudame is udon served in water soup rather than fish soup as many other udon dishes are.

The udon restaurant I recommend is located in the long covered shopping street on the East side. I’m afraid I don’t know the name of the restaurant as I can’t read the Japanese but there is a photo of the front below.

udon restaurant takamatsu kagawa

This is a canteen style restaurant so you’ll need to get a tray and ask for yudame udon. You can then get other items to put on top or on the side. The marinated tofu and inari sushi (tofu pouch filled with rice) are vegetarian.

After you have paid you can add a few extra toppings such as soy sauce and spring onions for flavour.

You will get a small container of fish sauce with your Udon – just don’t use it!

Sibayo

Sibayo is an old fashioned looking restaurant just outside the shotengai area. It is opposite the NHK building. See the map for its precise location. You’ll need to take your shoes off before coming in, and once inside there are two vegetarian dishes that you can order for lunch. The menu is on a black board written in Katakana / Kanji, but the ones to look out for are the Mame Mame bean curry (in the photo below), and the vegetable plate. If you want the Mame Mame bean curry get there early as it can sell out quickly.

sibayo restaurant takamatsu

Za-Watami

If you want a more authentic Japanese eating experience than Indian and Italian, then try Za-Watami. You’ll find it in the covered shopping arcade. It is one of those places where you’ll have to take your shoes off to go in – they have lockers for your shoes.

za watami restaurant takamatsu

Be warned though you may need to speak some Japanese to customise your order. Most of the food is not vegetarian! They have a pizza with bacon – if you are able to ask for it to be made without bacon (bacon nashi), and verify that the staff have properly understood you, then you’ll have a basic margarita pizza. You can also order onion rings, chips, and some vegetables, plenty for a meal.

Za-Watami is more expensive then the other options I’ve given but if you want to feel more like you are in Japan when you are eating, then give it a go.

Ramjham – Indian and Nepalese

Ramjham is located a short distance from Thali Spice just out of the West side of the covered shopping arcade. Plenty of tasty vegetarian options.

Freshness Burger

It isn’t easy to find a vegetarian burger in Japan, but at Freshness Burger in the Sunport building you can find two! It is on the floor below Dear and Sri Balaji.

freshness burger takamatsu

You can get a tofu burger, and a bean/vegetable burger. Both are good but I’d recommend the bean/vegetable burger. Order from the counter, and five minutes later they’ll bring the burger to your table. You can also order chips for the complete burger experience. This is a good place to come if you want a quick vegetarian lunch.

Takamatsu vegetarian restaurant map

Here is a map showing where in Takamatsu the restaurants are. I’ve tried to position the pins as accurately as I can but I apologise if there are slight inaccuracies.


View Takamatsu 高松: Vegetarian friendly restaurants in a larger map

You can read more about Takamatsu in my Takamatsu ‘what to do there’ guide.

Takamatsu Japan, what to do there

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Takamatsu is not a city that many people think of when visiting Japan, but it is the city that I happened to find myself in for a year.

It is in the Kagawa prefecture of Shikoku Island. Shikoku is the smallest of the four main islands that make up Japan and is positioned south west of Osaka. Shikoku Island is most famous for its 88-temple pilgrimage. It is joined to the mainland by a number of bridges, including the Seto Ohashi Bridge, one of the longest in the world.

Takamatsu is situated on the North side of the Island and has a harbour area that faces into the Seto Inland Sea. The city has a population of around 400,000. It has a large shopping, restaurant, and nightlife area.

Ritsurin Park

Ritsurin Park is a 75-hectare park of 6 ponds and 13 small hills that has been designated as a “national place of special scenic beauty”.

ritsurin park takamatsu

Inside the landscaped park are a huge variety of plants, trees and flowers. Pick up a map and it will show you a few suggested walking routes.

The park faces Mt. Shiun which makes it easy to get your bearings. Look out for the famous view of Bairin-kyo Bridge. You’ll also find plenty of colourful Koi fish in the large interconnected ponds and lakes.

If you have more time there is a tea house where you can be served Japanese green tea (there is an extra charge for this). For more information see my Ritsurin Park page.

Takamatsu Castle / Tamamo Park

Takamatsu’s castle, properly called Tamamo Castle is located near the harbour area of Takamatsu. It is one of the “three water castles” of Japan, taking its moat water from the Seto Inland Sea.

tamamo castle takamatsu

The castle is nice, but you will find more impressive castles elsewhere in Japan. However you should still go here to have a look, and have a walk through the Tamamo Park grounds.

If you are in Takamatsu in during late October / beginning November then Tamamo Park is the location for a festival of chrysanthemum flowers. You may also find Bonsai trees on display.

Covered shopping streets (shotengai)

The main shopping area of Takamatsu consists of a number of covered shopping streets. Take a walk along Tamachi, Minamishinmachi, Marugamemachi, Kataharamachi, Hyogomachi, Lion-Dori and Tokiwamachi. You’ll find hundreds of shops and many restaurants.

There are clothing shops, household goods, Udon restaurants, book shops, souvenir shops and more. This is an especially good place to shop if it is raining as you can get across large areas of the city without being too exposed to the elements.

Harbour and Sunport area

Takamatsu is a harbour city and the relatively new Sunport area has been built to show it off.

takamatsu harbour sunport and lighthouse

Go to the 8th floor observation deck of the Sunport building and you’ll be able to see across the Seto Inland Sea. In the Sunport Tower building you’ll also find some good restaurants, coffee shops, clothes shops, and more.

Have a walk along the harbour area and you can see the regular passenger and car ferries sailing to and from the harbour. It is worth taking a walk along the harbour promenade to the red lighthouse, which sits on at the end of a long pier.

seto inland sea takamatsu

From the harbour area you can get a ferry to one of the many islands that are close by such as Naoshima, Shodoshima, Megijima and Ogishima.

Naoshima Island

Naoshima can be reached by ferry in less than an hour from Takamatsu port. Once there you should get a bus to the Art House Project and buy a ticket which will allow you to look at art installations which have been placed in a number of old Japanese buildings.

There is also a very small James Bond museum on the Island if you are a fan.

naoshima island

Shodoshima Island

Less than an hour be ferry will get you to Shodoshima Island. I’d recommend going to the Kankakei Mountain where you can either get a cable car or walk to the top. Once at the top there are viewing areas, food, shops, and more walking paths.

shodoshima kankakei mountain

Yashima flat top mountain

A short Kotoden train journey from Kawaramachi station will get you to the base of the Yashima flat top mountain. From there you can either walk up or get the bus. On the top you will find Yashima aquarium with its many types of fish, as well as a dolphin and sea lion show. There is also a great view across the Takamatsu harbour to see, and a temple – one of the 88.

yashima flat top mountain takamatsu

There are other attractions around Yashima as well such as the folk museum and a shrines and temple. You can read more about the Shikoku-Mura folk museum here.

Hill walking

Takamatsu is surrounded by hills. Some of them are easy to walk up. Mount Inari is in easy walking distance from the town centre. The nearest station is Ritsurin Koen Kitaguchi. The walking paths aren’t very visibly marked. The best thing to do is to walk around the hill until you find the path. I found a path entrance on the North side of Mount Inari.

Walking up took about two hours as I took some wrong turns – the route is not very visible so a bit of trial and error may be needed. Once at the top you get a small view of parts of the city – note that there are many trees at the top obscuring your view so go up for the fun of the walk – not the view.

mount inari takamatsu

You might want to note that there were very few other people in the area so if you have an accident you’ll be in trouble! And as the hill is covered in tall trees no one will see you. I’d suggest you don’t do a walk like this alone – and make sure you do it on a dry day as some of the paths can be slippy.

Other hills and mountains in the area are likely to be walkable if you do a bit of exploring. Certainly a walk up Mount Yashima will give you a great view of the Takamatsu harbour.

88 temple pilgrimage

Shikoku Island is famous for its 88 temple pilgrimage. The temples are scattered all over Shikoku Island, however quite a number of them are in easy reach of Takamatsu. If you go to look at any of them keep a look out for the pilgrims who will be dressed in white.

nagaoji temple

Kotohira – 1400 steps

Take the Kotoden train to Kotohira station and you will be able to see one of the most famous Shinto shrines in the country. To reach the main shrine you will have to climb 785 steps up Mt. Zozusan. Another 583 steps will take you as high as you are allowed to go.

Along the way you’ll pass a number of shops, shrines and statues. There’s a great view from the top. There are more photos and information on my Kotohira page.

Takamatsu festivals

There are quite a number of festivals and special events in the Takamatsu area which are worth keeping an eye out for. These include a Winter festival, the Shionoe Firefly Festival, the stone lantern road, and every three years the Setouchi International Art Festival.

Travelling around Takamatsu

Takamatsu is very easy to get around. The town centre and Sunport areas close together. Walking is the most convenient way to get around the centre. There is a local Kotoden tram network that will take you further outside of Takamatsu. Takamatsu mainline train station will allow you to get trains around Shikoku and also onto the main Japan Island. Taking a JR train over the Seto Ohashi Bridge to Okayama will give you great views of the Seto Sea.

If you are likely to be using the local trams frequently (along with the Kotoden local busses) then it may be worth getting an IruCa card. The IruCa card is a smart card that you ‘charge up’ with credit. You can then use the Kotoden tram and Kotoden busses without needing cash.

On the trams you’ll need to swipe your card over the scanner at the start and end of your journey. At larger stations such as Kawaramachi there are ticket barriers to make sure you do this. At smaller stations such as Hanozono there are IruCa readers on the platform. When you leave the train the train’s ticket inspector will watch you to make sure you swipe out! Google Maps knows the timetable and costs of the Kotoden trams so if you do a route search between two destinations in central Takamatsu it will give you tram information.

On the Kotoden buses you’ll need to enter by the door in the middle of the bus. You’ll then have to touch the IruCa reader by the door with your card. When you exit through the front door of the bus you’ll have to touch the card on IruCa reader at the front of the bus. You can pay by cash as well – just get the numbered ticket when you enter. On Okawa buses you’ll need to get a ticket on entering, and pay when you leave. There is timetable information on the Kotoden website and the Okawabus website, but it is only available in Japanese.

iruca card takamatsu

You can also use the IruCa card to pay for items in some shops and for items in some vending machines displaying the IruCa logo.

If you want to travel further away (Tokyo, Naha, Kagoshima or Seoul) then you might want to read my Takamatsu Airport page.

Eating in Takamatsu

I have reviews of some vegetarian friendly restaurants in Takamatsu that you may be interested in reading. This includes Italian, Indian, and an Udon restaurant.

Hotels in Takamatsu

I’ve never stayed in a Takamatsu hotel (as I’ve been living here), but my parents tell me that the Dormy Inn Hotel was very good, and reasonably priced. It is well positioned in the centre of the city, near the covered shopping area.

Takamatsu cinemas

The largest cinema is the Warner Mycal multi-screen cinema at the Aeon shopping centre (was a Saty shopping centre prior to March 2011) which is East of Takamatsu between Sunport and Yashima. The Warner Mycal Takamatsu schedule page is here. The nearest Kotoden station is Okimatsushima. There is a smaller cinema just off the shotengai in the Kawaramachi area.

Many Western films are shown in the original language with Japanese subtitles. Look out for the ones that have this ‘subtitles’ symbol 字幕. If the listing doesn’t have this symbol then the film will probably be dubbed in Japanese!

Shopping centres and Western food

Two of the larger shopping centres are Youme Town which is South of Ritsurin Park, and Aeon which is to the West of Takamatsu. You can get buses to both of these places from Sunport and Tenmaya.

In Aeon is a Kaldi Coffee Farm shop which sells some non-Japanese foods that are hard to find (nachos, biscuits, salsa sauce). Some other items like chick peas are cheaper here than elsewhere.

Keeping fit

Takamatsu is extremely bike friendly. It is very flat, you can cycle on the roads or pavement, and drivers are (almost always) considerate to you. You can rent bikes for ¥100 from a number of bike hire places around the city – there’s one near the main station.

If you are looking for yoga then there is a bilingual (Japanese/English) yoga class taught by Michi that I can recommend.

Takamatsu has a Round 1, where you can do bowling, skating, and other racket sports. I have some Round 1 bowling information on the site.

Takamatsu long stay information

If you are staying in Takamatsu for longer than a normal holiday then there are a number of useful places, and organisations that can make your life easier.

Takamatsu is home to Kagawa’s International Exchange Centre, also know as the I-PAL Centre. Here you can do Japanese classes very cheaply, get access to foreign magazines and newspapers, and take part in their Japanese language salon where you can practice your Japanese with local residents. They also can offer interpreter and legal help if you need it.

If you don’t have your own internet access then you should check out e-topia in the Sunport Tower. Here you can use their computers for surfing the web (you just need to fill in a quick form to do this), or if you have your own laptop you can sign up for their secure WPA2 encrypted WiFi access. You might need to take a Japanese speaker with you in order to be able to get through the sign up process.

Alternatively there is an internet connected computer in the library in the I-PAL Centre (they have WiFi too), and you will find free WiFi access near the North end of the covered shopping arcade.

For weather information look at the Japan Meteorological Agency page for Kagawa.

If you are looking to meet new people then you should join the newly formed Kagawa Foreigners United Network (K-FUN) who are organising events in the Kagawa area.

For practical information on living in the Kagawa prefecture have a look at the International Affairs Division website. My guide to alien registration has a few specific details about registering in Takamatsu.