- Climb to the top of Hirai-ho Hill
- Admire the Neagari Goyo-matsu pine
- Take it all in on a Wasen boat ride
- Sip on matcha at the Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse
- Browse the Sanuki Folk Craft Museum
Even though Kagawa is the smallest prefecture in Japan, its nature-filled parks and gardens make it one of the most beautiful areas in the nation. There are numerous areas to explore, including the peaceful Ritsurin Garden in the capital city of Takamatsu, the flower-filled Sanuki Manno Park, and the ephemeral sandbar called Angel Road. No matter which area you head to, Kagawa will overwhelm you with all of the natural beauty that the region has to offer. Outdoor lovers must make a visit to Kagawa on their next trip to Japan.
Ritsurin Garden in Kagawa is renowned as one of the largest and most beautiful gardens in Japan. Upon entering this Michelin-starred National Treasure of Japan, you will be greeted by the sights of pristine ponds spanned by bridges, an Edo period-style teahouse, and thousands of seasonal flowers and trees.
The history of the garden dates back to the 16th century when it was a personal garden of the Sato Clan. The warlord Ikoma Takatoshi had the pond constructed in the 1620s when he came into power, giving the park one of its iconic features. Eventually, feudal lord Matsudaira Yorishige took over the garden and began shaping it into the park you see today. Ritsurin Garden opened to the public on March 16, 1875, and became a National Place of Special Scenic Beauty by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1953.
• Location: 1-20-16 Ritsurin-cho Takamatsu, Kagawa 760-0073
• Hours: The garden is always open 7 AM - 5 PM, but the hours extend depending on the month.
One of the highlights of the Kagawa Ritsuring Garden is the view from atop Hirai-ho Hill. When you arrive at the top of this landscaped hill, which was designed to look like Mt. Fuji, your jaw will drop. You can see all of Nanko Pond with its artistically landscaped mounds, the Engetsuyo Bridge, and the Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse at the far end of the pond, all with Mt. Shuin in the background. Don't miss taking in this unforgettable view.
The Neagari Goyo-matsu pine is the most unique tree in the park. This tree was a prized gift from the 11th Tokugawa Shogun in 1833. It was originally a bonsai tree, but it then grew into the full-sized tree that you see today.
If you want to take the garden in from a different perspective, be sure to sign up for a Wasen boat ride around Nanko Pond. A Wasen boat is a traditional-style Japanese wooden boat. One of the garden's boat guides operates the boat using a single long oar. The boat fits six people, and you will hear about the history of the garden on your ride. You'll feel like a feudal lord on this 30-minute Wasen boat ride around Ritsurin Garden.
• Hours: Daily from 9 AM - 4:30 PM (from Nov-Jan the final ride is at 4 PM)
The Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse is the most memorable building of the garden. You won't forget the view of the Edo period-style teahouse sitting on Nanko Pond. The Edo style gives this teahouse its wide-open panoramic views. The name Kikugetsu comes from a line from a Tang Dynasty Chinese poem that reads, "When I scoop up the water, I hold the moon in my hands." You can sit and enjoy a matcha tea and a Japanese-style treat at the teahouse while watching the Wasen boats circle Nanko Pond.
• Hours: Daily from 9 AM - 4:30 PM
There are over 1,000 items on display at the Sanuki Folk Craft Museum, which combines the New Folk Craft Museum, the Old Folk Craft Museum, the Furniture Museum, and the Roof Tile Museum. The items in this museum are from all over the Kagawa prefecture. Some of the highlights include Kagawa rihei-yaki ceramics, Kaga lacquerware and papier-mache, Takamatsu Hariko dolls, and all of the tools used to make these crafts by hand. You'll get to learn all about the history of craft making at this museum.
• Hours: Daily from 8:30 AM - 5 PM
Sanuki Manno Park has fun for the whole family. You can rent a bike to explore the trails around the park or just take it in on foot. There are tons of playground forts and other structures on which kids can jog their imagination. Don't miss the 9-meter high artificial waterfall complete with a dragon statue at the center of the park. The park is also home to the largest reservoir in Japan and the largest RV campground in Shikoku.
The main attraction of Sanuki Manno Park is the sheer amount of seasonal flowers and festivals to coincide with them.
• Sosyun Festa — Starting in February, flowers like the Christmas roses and Japanese plum trees bloom to announce the start of spring.
• Haru Ranman Festa — Takes place in late March until early May and is when over 300,000 nemophilas, 200,000 narcissus, and 45,000 tulips come into bloom. The beloved Japanese cherry blossoms also bloom at the start of April.
• Ajisai Festa — In June, 40 different hydrangea species, totaling over 200,000 plants, come into bloom during the rainy season.
• Summer Festa — Sunflowers are the star of the Summer Festa that takes place in August.
• Aki Irodori Festa — Between September and November, the park starts to change from bright flowers to autumn hues.
• Winter Fantasy — The park stays open late in December and January for a display of colorful illuminated lights.
No matter what time of year you are at the park, there will be numerous flowers in bloom for you to admire.
• Location: 4243-12 Yoshino, Manno, Nakatado District, Kagawa 766-0023
• Hours: 9:30 AM - 5 PM in the spring and fall, 9:30 AM - 6 PM in summer, and 9:30 AM - 4:30 PM in the winter
Legend has it that if you hold the hand of your loved one while walking on Angel Road, eternal love will be yours. Find eternal love on this 500-meter sandbar that only shows up twice a day during low tide. Stroll on Angel Road to reach a series of three islets; the final one is Yoshima. Once you reach Yoshima, it is a popular act of love to hang a wooden heart with a love wish from one of the trees on the islet. Don't forget to pack yourself a picnic so you can have a romantic lunch on the beach.
If you are waiting for the tide to go out, you can always hike to the top of the Hill of Promises, which is an observation area that overlooks Angel Road and the Seto Inland Sea. There is even a bell at the top called the Bell of Love. Ring the Bell of Love to declare your love to the entire world.
Always be sure to check the tide tables before planning a trip to Angel Road so you don't get stranded on one of the islets.
• Location: 24-69 Kō, Tonosho, Shōzu-gun, Kagawa 761-4101
Setonaikai National Park is the largest park in Japan and is perfect for cycling, hiking, and sightseeing. The park is home to the Japanese horseshoe crab, finless porpoises, and the world's largest population of Japanese daisy coral. Designated as a national park in 1934, it stretches across 11 prefectures and contains around 3,000 islands. You can take an easy hike to the top of Mt. Misen to reach an observatory with magnificent views of the whole park. If you are feeling adventurous, try signing up for a diving trip or a sailboat ride in the waters of the park.
• Location: The national park stretches from the northern coast of Kagawa to Osaka to the east and Hiroshima to the west.
Make Kagawa Prefecture a stop on your next trip to Japan. You will never tire of all of the breathtaking scenery you will come across. Whether you enjoy gardens, parks, or the beach, any nature lover will think this place is special. To view these breath-taking landscapes, all you need to do is book a flight to the Takamatsu Airport from one of the 30 cities in the Japan Airlines domestic network using the JAL Japan Explorer Pass.
If you are an art lover, make a trip to Kagawa Prefecture to take part in an island-hopping art, museum, and nature tour.
If you enjoy the peaceful aspects of nature, journey to Kagawa to take in historic gardens, flower-filled parks, and a disappearing sandbar.
See sites with rich historical backgrounds and landscapes with breathtaking sceneries. Go on a historical trip through Kagawa.