Takamatsu (高松) is the the largest city on the island of Shikoku. It is the capital of the Kagawa Perfecture, Japan.
The population of Takamatsu is approximately 420,000 people. The city developed as a port town and is at one of the primary entry points to Shikoku. It is therefore known as the "Gateway to Shikoku". In recent years, it has also come to be known as the "Udon Kingdom".
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Source: Japan Meteorological Agency .
July and August can get quite warm. The winter months of January and February are the coldest, with occasional night time freezing temperatures.
Takamatsu Airport (高松空港) (IATA: TAK) is 15km south of the city center. Flights operate to/from Tokyo, Taipei, Naha, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Shanghai. Buses connect the Takamatsu Airport and Takamatsu Station roughly twice per hour (40 minutes, ¥740).
Kansai International Airport (IATA: KIX) has much more options. Direct buses operate between the airport and Takamatsu. (3.5 hours, ¥5,150, 6 times per day).
Marine Liner (マリンライナー) trains operate between Okayama Station on the main Japanese island of Honshu and Takamatsu Station. Trains run twice per hour in each direction (55 minutes, ¥1,470, free with JR Rail Pass). Because the Marine Liner is classified as a 'rapid' (快速 kaisoku) train, the Seishun 18 Ticket is valid on this train. First Class Green car seating is available and the view across the Seto Inland Sea is great from the front of the train.
A limited express train (特急 tokkyū) called the Uzushio (うずしお) runs hourly to Takamatsu from Tokushima (One hour, ¥3,070). A few Uzushio trains run between Takamatsu and Okayama on the exact same route as the Marine Liner; you have the option of using those trains if you have a Japan Rail Pass, but generally you should use the cheaper and more frequent Marine Liner.
Okayama Station is a major station for the Shinkansen trains. Connections are available at Okayama to/from all major cities in Japan including Hiroshima (1h40), Osaka (2h), and Tokyo (4.5h).
There are several options to travel by bus to/from Honshu, particularly the Kansai region. Buses can be booked online.
- JR Shikoku operates buses to/from Namba Station in Osaka (3 hours 20 min, ¥3,900 one-way, 48 round-trips daily).
- Shinki Bus operates buses to/from Sannomiya Station in Kobe (2 hours 30 min, ¥3,600 one-way, 27 round-trips daily).
- JR Shikoku operates buses to/from Kyoto Station in Kyoto (3 hours 40 min, ¥4,950 one-way, 7 round-trips daily).
- JR Shikoku operates buses to/from Hiroshima (3 hrs 45 min, ¥4,100 one-way, 7 round-trips daily).
- JR Shikoku operates one nightly bus to/from Tokyo (10 hours 30 minutes, from ¥9,100 one-way). Alternatively, Willer Express operates overnight buses from Tokyo to Okayama starting from ¥6,000, from where you can take the Marine Liner train to Takamatsu for ¥1,470.
- Jumbo Ferry, . This ferry runs 4 times daily between Kobe and Takamatsu. At both ends of the ferry, buses connect the ferry boarding point to the nearest major station - San'nomiya Station and Takamatsu Station, respectively. The Kobe-side connecting bus costs ¥200 and takes 5 minutes, the Takamatsu-side connecting bus is free and takes 15 minutes. The ferry sails under the Akashi Straits Bridge, and udon is available on board. [[Kobe]] to/from Takamatsu one-way ¥1,940, round-trip ¥3,380; bicycles ¥500 extra; cars ¥4,990 ± ¥500 extra. edit
- Shikoku Kisen, . Operates ferries (50-60 minutes) and speedboats (25 minutes) between Naoshima and Takamatsu. Ferry: ¥520; Speedboat: ¥1,220. edit
Takamatsu is a fairly walkable city and the downtown is pretty easy to navigate on foot.
Bicycling is an extremely popular method of transportation. The city is extremely bicycle-friendly.
There are 7 Rent-a-Cycle Ports around the city, including one underground at Takamatsu Station. Prices are ¥200 per 24-hour period, up to a maximum of 72 hours, and you are allowed to keep the bicycle overnight. Before the first rental, you will need to fill out a short form and show identification.
Kotoden (琴電), officially known as the Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad, is also a viable means of getting around parts of downtown Takamatsu. In particular, the Kotoden is convenient for going between Ritsurin Park, Kawaramachi, and the Takamatsu Station/Castle area.
JR lines, used more for inter-city travel, don't run terribly often and are not very well-suited for getting around town, particularly the city center.
Twisting pine trees at Ritsurin Park
- Ritsurin Park (栗林公園 ritsurin kōen), 1-20-16 Ritsurin-cho (5 min walk from Ritsurin Kōen Station (Kotoden), exit station and walk straight along the road. Also, a 3min walk from Ritsurin Kōen Kitaguchi Station (JR) and also accessible by bus), ☎ +81 87 833-7411, . Sunrise to sunset (varies by month). A beautiful and very large Japanese landscape garden built for the Sanuki and Sasuma lords and has been designated a Japanese National Treasure. It is full of intriguing items and spectacular views; it is likely to cause even those who have lived in Japan long-term to have a "Wow, I'm really in Japan!" moment. Although it is not one of the official top three gardens of Japan, it is undoubtedly one of Japan's most impressive gardens, and it benefits from generally being less crowded than its counterparts which are members of the illustrious top 3. Some of the garden's highlights include the Engetsu-kyo Bridge (primary symbol of the park), the Okedoi-no-Taki Waterfall, the 'Red Wall of Rocks', a lotus pond, a large number of Japanese pine trees including the turle+crane rock, as well as other impressive sights. The park also contains three tea houses, a restaurant, and a folk craft museum. You can experience tea ceremony lite at the tea houses for small additional fee. On the map you receive when you purchase your ticket (and on the website), you'll find several walking routes, including one specifically designed for handicap visitors. ¥400 (adults), ¥170 (children). (34.329591,134.043968) edit
- Tamamo Park (玉藻公園 tamamo kōen), 2-1 Tamamo-cho (5 min walk from Takamatsu Station. Directly behind Takamatsu-Chikkō Station, origin of the Kotoden line), ☎ +81 87 851-1521, . 7AM-6PM Apr-Sep, 8:30AM-5PM Oct-Mar, closed Dec 29-Jan 3. A picturesque park and the former site of Takamatsu Castle, which played an important role in the city's history. The main tower of the castle, dismantled during the Meiji era, is currently in the process of being rebuilt. There are a number buildings within the complex, and in early April it is a popular place to see the cherry blossoms. ¥200 adults, ¥100 children. edit
- The Kagawa Museum (香川県立ミュージアム kagawa kenritsu myūjiam), 5-5 Tamamo-cho, ☎ +81 87 822-0002, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM, closed Dec 27-Jan 1, closed Golden Week. Contains exhibits on the history, traditions, and people of Kagawa Prefecture, formerly known as Sanuki Province. Much of the information is only available in Japanese; however, a free English audio guide is available for the permanent Kagawa history exhibit on the top floor. ¥400. (34.349708,134.053266) edit
- Takamatsu Symbol Tower (高松シンボールタワー), Sunport 2-1 (200m NE of Takamatsu Station.), ☎ +81 87 811-1676, . This building was built in 2004 and became the highest building in the Shikoku district. It has several observation decks with views of the sea and nearby peninusulas. There is also a shopping mall with many restaurants in the eastern building. (34.352879,134.046464) edit
Ten minutes by train to the east is Yashima (屋島), a peninsula famous as the site of the Battle of Yashima in the Genpei War in 1185. There are many sites to see for those interested in the local history. To get to Yashima, take either the local train, from Takamatsu-Chikkō Station with one transfer, or the JR train, from Takamatsu Station. Either one takes about 15 minutes.
- Yashima Temple (屋島寺 Yashima-ji), Higashimachi 1808, Yashima, ☎ +81 87 841-9418. Free. (34.357945,134.101224) edit
- Yashima Temple Museum. edit
- New Yashima Aquarium (新屋島水族館 Shin-Yashima Suizokukan), Higashimachi 1785-1, Yashima, ☎ +81 87 841-2678 (email@example.com, fax: +81 87 843-9659), . 9AM-5PM, closed Jan 1-3. Adults ¥1,200, JHS/HS students ¥700, children ¥300. (34.358587,134.09991) edit
- Shikokumura (四国村), 91 Nakamachi, Yashima (20 minutes from the center of town. Take a Kotoden train from Takamatsu-Chikko Station to Kawaramachi Station, transfer to the Shido Line, and disembark at Kotoden Yashima), ☎ +81 878 43-3111, . Nov-Mar 8:30AM-5:30PM, Apr-Oct 8:30AM-6PM. An interesting open-air museum with old houses collected from all around Shikoku. Inside the open-air museum there is a small art museum with works of Western artists including Pablo Picasso. The building has a nice garden with a nice panorama and was designed by Tadao Ando. Adults: ¥800; high school students: ¥500; children: ¥300. (34.343799,134.108251) edit
- Yashima Shrine (屋島神社 Yashima Jinja), 屋島中町140, ☎ +81 87 841-9475. This shrine was originally built in 1652, and has been rebuilt since. (34.345679,134.107771) edit
- Tamamo Breakwater & Lighthouse, (5 mins from Takamatsu station). The breakwater makes for a nice stroll at sunset, with an illuminated red lighthouse at the end. edit
Festivals and events
- Sanuki Takamatsu Festival, (In front of Takamatsu Station and near the sea.), . mid-August. The first day is the opening; the second day is a fireworks festival; the last day is a dance festival. Visitors can enjoy the central park, the shopping arcade, and "Sanport". edit
- Winter Festival, . mid-to-late December. See beautiful Christmas displays at the central park. edit
- Shionoe Firefly Festival, . mid-June. A festival to celebrate the flying insect. edit
- Hyoge Festival. The 2nd Sunday in September. edit
Takamatsu has several long arcade-style shopping streets, called shotengai (商店街), giving the city's shopping a more traditional feel. You'll find shops of all sorts on these streets, much as you would at a mall, as well as lots of udon shops. They are concentrated in the portion of the city between Takamatsu Station and Kawaramachi. By name, they are:
- Hyōgo-machi (兵庫町)
- Katahara-machi (片原町)
- Marugame-machi (丸亀町)
- Lion Avenue (ライオン通 Raion-dōri)
- South Shinmachi (南新町 Minami-shinmachi)
- Tokiwa-gai (常磐街)
- Tamachi (田町)
Takamatsu is extremely well-known throughout Japan for its udon noodles, one of the three major types of Japanese noodle dishes. Udon noodles are distinctive in that they are white, fairly thick, and chewy. Despite udon being widespread in Japan, Takamatsu does it better and cheaper than anywhere else in the country. There are literally hundreds of udon shops within the city limits. Because local foods are often a driving force in Japanese tourism, many people flock to the city for the udon, often doing "chain-eating" tours around the city to famous shops.
Udon made in Takamatsu and the Kagawa perfecture is sometimes refered to as Sanuki udon. 'Sanuki' was the historical name of Kagawa. While this can be considered a regional specialty of Kagawa, the Sanuki variety is so widely-loved throughout Japan that it is often thought of as the 'normal' type, and is what most people imagine when they hear the word 'udon'.
The average Takamatsu udon shop has a variety of udon dishes available. Some of the standard types are listed below but there are many more types; different toppings (raw egg, for example) lead to different names. It's rare for a typical bowl of udon to cost more than ¥1,000; the simpler types usually cost around ¥400, with some places offering noodle bowls for as little as ¥100. Ask locals about good udon shops since they are sure to know some. Udon is cheap, and it's a simple but tasty item that is easy to eat even for those who don't especially take to Japanese food, so travelers should make an effort to at udon at least once while in Takamatsu.
- Kake udon - (Hot) The most basic variety. The noodles come in a hot dashi and soy-flavored broth and will likely have sliced onions thrown in. Some places may also add a slice of kamaboko (fish sausage) as well. You're likely to have a pinch of ginger added to the broth.
- Kitsune udon - (Hot) Like kake udon, but with a large slab of fried tofu in the bowl.
- Tempura udon - (Hot) Also like kake udon, but with a some tempura thrown in for good measure. Typically the tempura will be shrimp plus a vegetable or two, however at the cheapest places the tempura will be kaki-age, a vegetable-shrimp patty.
- Kama'age udon - (Hot) Identical to zaru udon in manner of eating, however noodles come hot instead of cold. As far as taste is concerned, it's quite similar to kake udon.
- Zaru udon - (Cold) Cold noodles come on a wooden tray. From there, you pick them up, dip them into a soy-based broth that comes with the dish, and then eat.
There are many more types - different toppings (raw egg, for example) lead to different names. It's rare for a typical bowl of udon to exceed ¥1,000, and not uncommon for the simpler types to hover around ¥400. ¥100 bowls are even available at some places. Feel free to ask locals about good udon shops - they are sure to know some.
- Kawafuku, 2-1 Daikumachi (Near Kataharamachi station), ☎ +81 87-822-1956, . Sanuki udon noodle restaurant. edit
- Nude Supperclub, 1520-12 Tahi Shimomachi (Near Ota station), . Dinner served by nudes. Must be 20+ years old to enter. edit
- Sakaeda, 5-2-23 Bancho, ☎ +81 87-834-6291, . edit
- Tsurumaru (手打ちうどん 鶴丸), 古馬場町9-34 (About halfway between Kataharamachi Station and Kawaramachi Station on the road running along the Kotoden Line.), ☎ +81 87 821-3780. 11AM-2PM, 8PM-3AM. One of the more noteworthy udon shops in town. Specializes in curry udon. An English menu is available. ¥400-1200 per bowl. (34.342497,134.05237) edit
- Udon Bakaichidai, 1-6-7 Tagacho, ☎ +81 87-862-4705, . edit
- Udon Honjin Yamadaya Sanuki Honten, 3186 Murecho Mure, ☎ +81, . edit
- Waraya, (Near Mount Yashima), . Udon noodle restaurant operating since 1975. edit
- Ikkaku Takamatsu, 4-11 Kajiyamachi, ☎ +81 87-823-3711, . Chicken restaurant. edit
- Amazon, 4-21 Kajiyamachi, One-Foot Bldg. 3rd Floor (Behind the Family Mart convenience store in Marugamemachi shotengai), ☎ +81 87-851-4560. 20:00-04:00. This bar has very reasonably priced drinks and has every kind of alcohol you can possibly hope for! The bartender (also the owner) speaks very good English as well. Nearly any night of the week, you can find someone there to talk to, and the crowd there is very diverse. It has become the unofficial foreigner's bar in Takamatsu. (34.34269,134.049315) edit
- The Craic Irish Pub, (Near Takamatsu Train Station), ☎ +81 80-5089-5735, . edit
- Magic Pan, The Hawaiian Bar, ☎ +81 86 234 2121, . edit
- MeloBar, (Near Kawaramachi Station), ☎ +81 87 811 5228, . edit
- Speak Low, 3 Chome-20-11 Shiogamicho (Near Kawaramachi Station), ☎ +81 87-837-0777, . edit
There are cheap business hotels around JR Takamatsu Station and Ritsurin-koen.
- Golden Time, 2-1-7 Kawaramachi (Kotoden Kawaramachi Station), ☎ +81 878-97-3177, . Nice capsule hotel with several varieties of saunas. It's for men only, though. ¥3,000. edit
- Takamatsu Century Hotel (高松センチュリーホテル), 1-4-19 Nishikimachi, ☎ +81 878-51-0558, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. A short walk from JR Takamatsu Station. All rooms have WiFi. Large Western-style business hotel, well-suited for single travelers or large groups. Rooms from ¥5,775 twin, meals ¥500-1,200. edit
- Sanukinoyu Dormy Inn (さぬきの湯 ドーミーイン高松), 1-10-10 Kawaramachi (Kotoden Kawaramachi Station), ☎ +81 878-32-5489, . A modern Western-style hotel with a pleasant rotemburo (open-air bath) at the top. Rooms from ¥10,000 double. edit
- Toyoko Inn Takamatsu Hyogomachi (東横INN高松兵庫町), Hyogo-machi 3-1 (Several blocks S/SW of Takamatsu Station, next to Lawson.), ☎ +81 87-821-1045, . checkin: 4PM; checkout: 10AM. This is a branch of the national business hotel chain. The rooms are clean and comfortable, though not large. Japanese-style breakfast is included in the price. There is wired internet in each room and computers for use in the lobby. Reservations can be made online in English, though the clerk is not likely to speak much. Single for ¥5,980. (34.346251,134.048071) edit
- Castle Hotel Takamatsu, 4-8 Tsuruyamachi, Takamatsu (On the left hand side right after crossing the railway when coming from JR station). checkin: 12pm; checkout: 10am. This hotel could easily be your best budget japanese style hotel experience. Japanese style rooms have a tea table, tv, kettle, fridge, a separate sleeping area with futon and a real japanese bath. Every room has yukata (kimono style robe) ready for guests. Friendly owner speaks good english. Don't get confused as the hotel is not marked in English. It's the first building after the railway crossing. The same railway crossing won't let you sleep early or late as it starts beeping every ten minutes from 6am to midnight. Double for ¥3,500. (34.346556,134.054706) edit
- Pearl Hotel, 2-19 Nishinomarucho (On your right as you leave through the main gate of the train station, about 100 meters), ☎ +81 87-822-3382, . checkout: Noon. Clean, affordable business hotel next to the station. Free coin lockers in the lobby to store your stuff. Capsule: ¥2,500; Double: ¥6,000. edit
- JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu, ☎ +81 87-811-1111, . edit
- Takamatsu Tokyu REI Hotel, 9-9 Hyogomachi, ☎ +81 87-821-0109, . edit
- Takamatsu Kokusai Hotel, 2191-1 Kitacho, ☎ +81 87-831-1511, . edit
- Chateau Est Takamatsu, ☎ +81 87-823-8100, . edit
- Takamatsu Washington Hotel Plaza, 1-2-3 Kawaramachi, ☎ +81 87-822-7111, . edit
- Hotel AreaOne Takamatsu, 2-23 Nishinomarucho, ☎ +81 87-823-7801, . ¥6,800-8,000. edit
- Takamatsu Terminal Hotel, ☎ +81 87-822-3731, . edit
- Hotel No 1 Takamatsu, ☎ +81 87-812-2222, . edit
- Business Hotel Parkside Takamatsu, 1 Chome-3-1 Ritsurincho, ☎ +81 87-837-5555, . edit
Takamatsu is the main entry point for Shikoku and from here the entire island is your oyster.
- Kotohira, site of the famed Kompira Shrine, is an hour away by Kotoden train.
- Marugame, the site of Marugame Castle, one of Japan's few remaining original castles.
- Mount Ishizuchi, the tallest peak in Shikoku, is about two hours away.
- Tokushima, capital of Tokushima Prefecture, is most famous for its Awa Odori Festival.
- Kochi, is famous for the beautiful Kochi Castle, which is one of Japan's few remaining original castles.
- Mima - a small city in Tokushima prefecture on the other side of the mountains to the south of Takamatsu. Mostly known for several historic locations, as well as campsites and outdoor activities (kayaking, hiking, fishing, motorcross, paragliding, etc.) etc.
Nearby islands in the Seto Inland Sea:
- Naoshima, a small island on Seto Inland Sea with superb contemporary art museums, is one hour away by boat.
- Shodoshima, the second-largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, known for its soy sauce factories and olive production, is accessible by ferry; the island boasts enough sights to occupy a day or two
Easy day trips to the mainland:
- Okayama, home to the beautiful Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's top three gardens, as well as the beginning of the Kibiji District Trail
- Kurashiki, famous for the Bikan Historic District, one of Japan's largest and best preserved historic neighborhoods.
- Tsuyama A wonderful little town famous for Kakuzan Park, which contains the ruins of Tsuyama Castle and thousands of cherry blossoms within its precints, the historic Joto Street, and the beautiful Shurakuen Garden.
Also, depending on timing and visa, Shanghai is an option, with Spring Airlines and its typically low fares.