Takamatsu boasts a premier Japanese garden, delicious local food, top-notch shopping and a charming waterfront.
The capital city of Kagawa, the smallest prefecture in Japan, punches above its weight with a host of great offerings for visitors.
Often seen as a gateway to Shikoku, Takamatsu’s port was the main entry point from Honshu to the island until the opening of Seto Ohashi Bridge in 1988. After the bridge opened, tourists no longer stayed the night to break up their travel en route to their final destination.
For nearly two decades, this city sat in the doldrums until it was given a new lease of life via low-cost flights from major airports, modernization of the city’s infrastructure and the addition of major brands. These developments have led to Takamatsu becoming a great destination in its own right.
Here are some of the best experiences on offer in Takamatsu.
1. Explore Ritsurin Koen
Ritsurin Koen is so beautiful it is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan along with Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen, Mito’s Kairakuen, and Okayama's Korakuen. It is designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty in the country.
Built by local feudal lords during the early Edo period (1603–1868), the spacious park offers an oasis of ponds, hills and beautiful pavilions, making it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature in all its glory. Mt. Shiun acts as a wonderful background in the Japanese tradition of borrowed scenery.
Ritsurin Koen is divided into a Japanese garden in the south and a Western garden in the north. In the southwest part of the garden, you will find Kikugetsu-tei teahouse, where you can enjoy a cup of tea on verandas overlooking koi-filled ponds.
The park also features a folk museum, gift shops and rest houses where you can enjoy refreshments or take a break amidst the beauty of the garden.
2. Eat Sanuki Udon
Sanuki udon noodles are one of the most famous types of udon noodles in Japan, named after Kagawa Prefecture’s former name, Sanuki.
Sanuki udon noodles have a firm, chewy texture, which is achieved by using a specific type of wheat traditionally grown locally. They can be served like other udon noodles: cold with a dipping sauce or in a hot broth with toppings.
More than 700 Sanuki udon restaurants are dotted across the prefecture, but a large number can be found in Takamatsu’s shopping district, making the city a great place to taste this famous dish.
3. Shop in Japan’s Longest Shopping Arcade
With a combined length of nearly 2.7 km (1.6 miles), Takamatsu’s shopping arcade is the longest covered arcade in Japan. It’s therefore a great place for shopping, dining and taking in the local atmosphere.
The arcade stretches from Takamatsu Castle to Ritsurin Koen. Its eight interconnected shopping streets have more than 1,000 stores, including local and international brands, departments stores and a wide range of restaurants to meet all budgets.
The symbol of the arcade is a large plaza featuring a crystal dome modelled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy.
4. Visit Sunport Takamatsu
Takamatsu port was a bustling hub of passenger ferries, container vessels and fishing boats as well as the site of storage warehouses and processing plants until the construction of Seto Ohashi Bridge in 1988.
In the past decade, the port has been redeveloped, creating one of Japan’s most pleasant waterfront promenades, home to businesses, shops and eateries. Highlights include the newly built JR Hotel Clement and Symbol Tower, the largest office building in the city. The tower houses the Maritime Plaza shopping centre on its lower floors and several fine dining options on its top floors.
Sunport Takamatsu is the new name for this area, which expands out from JR Takamatsu Station and Takamatsu Port. The port continues to offer ferry connections to several nearby islands including Shodoshima, Naoshima, Megijima and Ogijima.
Find out more
For details on Takamatsu, visit the city’s online Tourist Information Center.