Shikoku Travel Guide

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The fourth largest, but least visited of Japan's main islands, Shikoku offers a far more rural character than that found in much of Honshu. Although renowned domestically for its 88-temple circuit (Hachiju-hakkasho), the island sees fewer foreign tourists than nearly any other region of Japan (apart from, perhaps, Tohoku). Shikoku's name stems from the four historic provinces of Sanuki, Tosa, Iyo and Awa, who have their modern inheritors in the prefectures of Kagawa, Kochi, Ehime and Tokushima respectively. The principal cities of the region are the prefectural capitals, Takamatsu, Kochi, Matsuyama and Tokushima, which also serve as convenient tourist centers. Other cities such as Marugame, Kotohira and Uwajima have their own attractions for visitors, but much of the island's charm lies in the mountainous countryside.

For anyone seeking an extended stay, the 88-temple pilgrimage is probably the island's greatest attraction. Though naturally it is most properly pursued on foot (for which one should allow for one to two months), other, modern pilgrims often choose to go by bicycle or car. Those visitors not wishing to spend such an extensive time in the region may choose to base themselves in the cities, with the occasional jaunt to surrounding areas. Although train service runs to most cities, many of the island's rural attractions are best visited with private transportation. One such area is the Iya Valley, west of Tokushima, which is well-known for its traditional folk architecture and vine bridges. Despite its mountainous terrain, Shikoku is considered one of Japan's best areas for cycling.

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April 07, 2006 change by xerius (4 points)

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