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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native name: 四国
Japan shikoku map small.png
The island of Shikoku, Japan
Location East Asia
Archipelago Japanese Archipelago
Area 18,800 km2 (7,259 sq mi) (50th)
Highest point Mount Ishizuchi (1,982 m (6,503 ft))
Prefectures Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, Tokushima
Largest city Matsuyama (pop. 512,982)
Population 4,141,955 (as of 2005)
Density 220.32 /km2 (570.6 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Japanese

Shikoku (四国 ?, "four provinces") is the smallest (225 km long and between 50 and 150 km wide) and least populous (4,141,955 as of 2005) of the four main islands of Japan, located south of Honshū and east of the island of Kyūshū. Its ancient names include Iyo-no-futana-shima (伊予之二名島), Iyo-shima (伊予島), and Futana-shima (二名島). The current name refers to the four former provinces which made up the island: Awa, Tosa, Sanuki, and Iyo.



The Shikoku region, comprising Shikoku and its surrounding islets, covers about 18,800 square kilometres (7,259 sq mi) and consists of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kōchi, and Tokushima. Across the Inland Sea lie Wakayama, Osaka, Hyōgo, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi Prefectures on Honshū. To the west lie Ōita and Miyazaki Prefectures on Kyūshū.

The 50th largest island by area in the world, Shikoku is smaller than Sardinia and Bananal, but larger than Halmahera and Seram. By population, it ranks 23rd, having fewer inhabitants than Sicily or Singapore, but more than Puerto Rico or Negros.

Mountains running east and west divide Shikoku into a narrow northern subregion, fronting on the Inland Sea, and a southern part facing the Pacific Ocean. Most of the 4.5 million inhabitants live in the north, and all but one of the island's few larger cites are located there. Mount Ishizuchi (石鎚山) in Ehime at 1,982 m (6,503 ft) is the highest mountain on the island. Industry is moderately well developed and includes the processing of ores from the important Besshi copper mine. Land is used intensively. Wide alluvial areas, especially in the eastern part of the zone, are planted with rice and subsequently are double cropped with winter wheat and barley. Fruit is grown throughout the northern area in great variety, including citrus fruits, persimmons, peaches, and grapes. Because of wheat production Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん) became an important part of the diet in Kagawa Prefecture (former Sanuki Province) in the Edo period.

Shikoku in relation to the Inland Sea and Honshū.

The larger southern area of Shikoku is mountainous and sparsely populated. The only significant lowland is a small alluvial plain at Kōchi, the prefectural capital. The area's mild winters stimulated some truck farming, specializing in growing out-of-season vegetables under plastic covering. Two crops of rice can be cultivated annually in the southern area. The pulp and paper industry took advantage of the abundant forests and hydroelectric power.

The major river in Shikoku is the Yoshino River. It runs 196 km from its source close to Mount Ishizuchi, flowing basically west to east across the northern boundaries of Kōchi and Tokushima Prefectures, reaching the sea at the city of Tokushima. The Yoshino is famous for Japan's best white-water rafting, with trips going along the Oboke Koboke sections of the river.

Shikoku has four important capes. Gamōda in Anan, Tokushima is the easternmost point on the island, and Sada in Ikata, Ehime the westernmost. Muroto in Muroto, Kochi and Ashizuri, the southern extreme of Shikoku, in Tosashimizu, Kochi, jut into the Pacific Ocean. The island's northernmost point is in Takamatsu, Kagawa.

Unlike the other three major islands of Japan, Shikoku has no volcanoes.[1]


Anraku-ji in Kamiita, Tokushima.

Shikoku is connected to Honshū by three expressways.

The eastern gateway to Shikoku, Naruto City in Tokushima Prefecture has been linked to the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway since 1998. This line connects Shikoku to the Kansai area which has a large population, including the large conurbations of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. Therefore, the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway carries a large traffic volume. Many highway buses are operated between Kansai and Tokushima Prefecture.

The central part of Shikoku is connected to Honshū by ferry, air and since 1988, by the Great Seto Bridge network. Until completion of the bridges, the region was isolated from the rest of Japan. The freer movement between Honshū and Shikoku was expected to promote economic development on both sides of the bridges, which has not materialized yet.

Within the island, a web of national highways connects the major population centers. These include Routes 11, 32, 33, 55, and 56.

The Shikoku Railway Company (JR Shikoku) serves the island. JR lines include:

Private railway lines operate in each of the four prefectures on Shikoku.

Shikoku lacks a full international airport but has 4 regional airports (Tokushima, Takamatsu, Kochi-Ryoma and Matsuyama Airport). All of these airports have flights to Tokyo and other major Japanese cities such as Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, and Fukuoka. International flights to Seoul, South Korea are serviced by Asiana Airlines from Matsuyama and Takamatsu. There are periodic international charter flights as well.

Ferries link Shikoku to destinations including Honshu, Kyūshū and islands around Shikoku.


Pioneering organic farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, author of The One-Straw Revolution, developed his methods here on his family's farm.


Shikoku is also famous for its 88-temple pilgrimage of temples associated with the priest Kūkai. Most modern day pilgrims travel by bus, rarely choosing the old-fashioned method of going by foot. They are seen wearing white jackets emblazoned with the characters reading dōgyō futari meaning "two traveling together".

Tokushima Prefecture also has its annual Awa Odori running in August at the time of the Obon festival, which attracts thousands of tourists each year from all over Japan and from abroad.


See also

External links

Coordinates: 33°45′N 133°30′E / 33.75°N 133.5°E / 33.75; 133.5

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : East Asia : Japan : Shikoku

Shikoku (四国) is an oft-forgotten island in Japan. The smallest of Japan's Big Four, it lies to the south of Honshu. The island is thought of as a rural backwater, with few must-see attractions, but a visit there can wash away those doubts; the mountainous inner regions offer some good hiking and a glimpse of the elusive Real Japan. It is also the home of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.


Shikoku literally means "four countries", and it indeed consists of four ancient countries (now prefectures) on Shikoku island, conveniently arranged around the compass points. Each prefecture also has an old provincial name, still often found in place names and listed in parenthesis below.

Map of Shikoku
Map of Shikoku
(Iyo) — to the west
(Sanuki) — to the north
(Tosa) — to the south
(Awa) — to the east
  • Kochi — home of "Yosakoi" and many local sights
  • Matsuyama — best known for the venerable hot springs of Dogo Onsen, inspiration of princes and poets
  • Takamatsu — the largest city in Shikoku
  • Tokushima — home of the Awa Odori festival in August
  • Uwajima — (barely) on the tourist map due to an interesting fertility shrine and wrestling bulls
  • Naruto — the east gate of Shikoku.
Vine bridge across the Iya Valley
Vine bridge across the Iya Valley

Shikoku is a primarily agricultural island, renowned for its citrus fruits. Cutting through the centre of the island is the mighty Yoshino river whose clear waters and big turbulent rapids make for great rafting.


Shikoku is far enough off the beaten track that some Japanese ability, while not absolutely necessary, will come in handy. Some of Shikoku's dialects, notably Tosa-ben spoken in Kochi, are famously incomprehensible even to other Japanese.

Get in

By car

While there are highways linking Shikoku with Honshu, they should be avoided. Tolls are extremely expensive (about 5000 yen, or roughly $50 USD).

By plane

Prefectural capitals Takamatsu, Matsuyama, Kochi and Tokushima all have small regional airports. Matsuyama has flights to Seoul and Shanghai, while Takamatsu fields a few flights a week to Seoul. For any other international destinations, you will likely have to connect via Tokyo or Kansai.

By train

Shikoku is not connected to the Shinkansen network, but there are frequent connections from Okayama on Honshu to Takamatsu and from there on throughout the island. The limited express Shiokaze (特急 しおかぜ) runs back and forth betweeen Okayama and Matsuyama roughly every hour during the day, skipping some stations on the way, if you feel like a more direct connection to that side of the island. The pace on Shikoku being what it is, don't come there expecting any of the trains to be super fast. It would also be wise to remember that train information will be in Japanese only, unlike what you may be used to from the Shinkansen. So either be sure to brush up on your knowledge of terms such as "unreserved seats" and the names of the places you're planning to visit, in kanji, or plan to ask a lot of people (which may be more fun, but may also take more time).

By bus

If coming from Kansai or eastern parts of Japan, buses through Awaji Island are the fastest way of getting to Shikoku.

By boat

There are numerous ferries that run to Shikoku that can be taken from major cities like Kobe and Hiroshima. From Hiroshima to Matsuyama expect to spend 2700 yen. The ferry takes around 2 and a half hours.

Get around

By train

The JR train network connects the larger towns together fairly well, but regular trains are slow and expresses are expensive. The main lines are:

For heavy travel, JR offers the Shikoku Free Kippu (四国フリーきっぷ) [1], which allows unlimited usage of JR trains and buses, including limited expresses, on three consecutive days (¥15700). If you manage to time it so that you can start on your birthday, ask for the Birthday Kippu instead, and you'll get the same deal for just ¥10000!

For the frugal traveler, the Shikoku Saihakken Haya-Toku Kippu (四国再発見早トクきっぷ ) [2] may be a better deal, as it offers one day of unlimited travel for just ¥2000. There are three big catches though: it's only valid on weekends and public holidays, it's limited to local trains, and you have to buy it at least one day in advance.

There are some other minor lines with infrequent trains. Some parts of the JR network, notably the southern segment from Kubokawa to Sukumo, have been split off to the private Tosa Kuroshio Railway company.

By bus

Buses fill in the gaps in the train network and are the only means of transport in areas like Cape Ashizuri and the Iya Valley. Schedules are sparse and prices are high.

On foot

Serious pilgrims may choose to complete the 88 Temple Circuit (see Do) on foot.



Original Castles
There are twelve original castles left in Japan and Shikoku is home to four of them.

Braving the rapids, Oboke and Koboke
Braving the rapids, Oboke and Koboke
  • 88 Temple Pilgrimage — a famous but grueling 1,647-kilometer hike around the entire island
  • The white-water rafting in the Yoshinogawa river around Oboke and Koboke is arguably the best in Japan.
  • The most sought after present or "omiyage" after a visit to Shikoku is Udon Noodles. Fresh noodles can be purchased at almost any souvenir shop.
  • Gifts related to the traditional "Henro," or Pilgrim and their outfit unique to Shikoku are also popular, including a "Henro" Hello Kitty cell phone charm. Available in Shikoku souvenir shops, or any airport in Japan (for those travelers who forgot to get "omiyage" while on their trip.)


There aren't any "Shikokuan" foods per se, but each prefecture has something that they're famous for:

  • Ehime: Sweet mikan mandarin oranges
  • Kagawa: Sanuki udon noodles
  • Kochi: Bonito (Katsuo), a type of small tunafish
  • Tokushima: Sudachi a little smooth green citrus fruit, like a lime
  • Chugoku - Easily accessible by train, car, or ferry, from natural sites, such as the nation's largest cave in Akiyoshidai and the sand dunes of Tottori to rich historical cities, like Hiroshima and Okayama, the Chugoku region offers a wide variety of unique travel experiences.
  • Kansai - A pleasant escape from the mostly rural Shikoku to Osaka and Kobe are makes for a fun trip. With a plethora of historical and cultural sites in Kyoto, Nara, and Ise, a trip to Kansai can be enjoyable for all types of travelers.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


The island of Shikoku.


From 四国 (しこく, Shikoku), four provinces).

Proper noun




  1. The fourth largest of Japan's islands.

Coordinate terms



Proper noun

Shikoku (kanji 四国, hiragana しこく)

  1. The fourth largest of Japan's islands.

Simple English

Shikoku (四国) is the smallest of Japan's four main islands. It is south of Honshu. Farming is a very important business in Shikoku. Citrus fruits are an important product. Shikoku is the home of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.



The name Shikoku literally means "four countries" in Japanese. It is actually made of four old countries that are now prefectures. Each prefecture has a modern name and an old provincial name. The old names are still used sometimes, especially for cultural items such as foods, music, or art. They are listed in parenthesis below.

  • Ehime (Iyo) — to the west
  • Kagawa (Sanuki) — to the north
  • Kochi (Tosa) — to the south
  • Tokushima (Awa) — to the east


  • Kochi — home of "Yosakoi" and many local sights
  • Matsuyama — is best known for the old hot springs at Dogo Onsen
  • Takamatsu — the largest city in Shikoku
  • Tokushima — home of the Awa Odori festival in August
  • Uwajima — has an interesting fertility shrine and wrestling bulls
  • Naruto — the east gate of Shikoku.

Points of interest

  • Cape Ashizuri — a scenic cape at the southernmost point of Shikoku
  • Iya Valley — a remote but beautiful mountain valley
  • Kotohira — the site of the Kompira-san shrine
  • Mount Ishizuchi — the tallest peak in Shikoku


There are twelve original castles left in Japan and Shikoku is home to four of them.

  • Marugame Castle, Marugame
  • Kochi Castle, Kochi
  • Matsuyama Castle, Matsuyama
  • Uwajima Castle, Uwajima.

The 88 Temple Pilgrimage is a famous but difficult 1,647-kilometer circle around the entire island. Serious pilgrims may choose to complete the 88 Temple Circuit on foot. Other people uses busses.

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