5 Kagawa Attractions for a Great Day Trip

by Luke - TripleLights travel specialist

Looking for something to do on a trip to Kagawa? From small floating islands, to castles, parks, and shrines. There is something for everyone in this part of Shikoku. We have selected five sights for a day trip to Kagawa. So, why not enjoy an art themed public bath, or even abandoned homes transformed into an art display. Here are the top attractions:

Naoshima

5 Kagawa Attractions for a Great Day Trip

(image by flickr.com)

Naoshima is a small island floating on top of the Seto Inland Sea north of Kagawa Prefecture. Everywhere within the lush green interior of the island, there is the unique presence of art scattered about. Naoshima can be reached by boat from the Port of Takamatsu within about 50 minutes or from Uno Port in Okayama Precture within 15 minutes. The area can be toured within half a day to a full day. You can easily navigate on the island on foot, rental bikes or bus. The island is separated into 3 areas and at the Miyanoura area around the harbor, there is Umi-no-Eki with a tourist information center and a souvenir shop, and the objet d’art of the world-famous Yayoi Kusama, the Red Pumpkin. 40 minutes’ walk away in the Gotanji area, there is the Chichu Museum which includes an exhibit of Monet’s “Water Lilies”, the museum/hotel of Benesse House & Museum, and Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin. Another 30 minutes’ walk away in Honmura Ward, there are facilities such as the Art House Project with its converted old houses as contemporary art and ANDO MUSEUM which profiles the world-famous architect, Tadao Ando.

While enjoying fishing and swimming at the beautiful beach, there is the nearby Tsutsuji-so Beach House which is a popular accommodation where you can stay at a Mongolian yurt, camping trailers or even cottage-style Japanese rooms. You will want to spend a full day leisurely enjoying the beautiful natural landscapes along the Seto Inland Sea. Also, Naoshima is proceeding with its initiatives as an eco-friendly island, and so you can visit interesting facilities such as the Kagawa Naoshima Environmental Center which recycles waste with the latest technology and the Valuable Metal Recycling Facility. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes on the island so you will want to partake in the fresh seafood from the Seto Inland Sea.

Admission: Various

Guidebook from Planetyze about Naoshima
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Naoshima
Tours of Naoshima

Ritsurin Park

5 Kagawa Attractions for a Great Day Trip

(image by my-kagawa.jp)

The castle took 100 years to complete by generations of feudal lords from the Sanuki Takamatsu clan during the Edo Era, and it was used as a villa. Currently, it has been designated nationally as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and has received 3 stars on the Michelin Green Guide Japon for its impressive pond garden. With Mt. Shiun in the background, 6 ponds and 13 artificial hills have been skillfully arranged so that the huge 750,000㎡ garden has been said to provide a different view with each step with a beauty that resembles that of a Japanese painting. In spring, there are plum and cherry blossoms, in summer there are irises and water lilies, the maples in autumn, and the camellias in winter, along with other blossoms all throughout the year, in beautiful harmony with the leaves, stones and water.

There are also various facilities within the garden. The Sanuki Folk Craft Hall has the New Folk Craft Pavilion, the Furniture Pavilion, the Tile Pavilion and the Old Folk Craft Pavilion where approximately 1000 exhibits of pottery, woodwork, lacquerware and other items used in daily are on display. At the Commerce and Industry Hall, the traditional craft products of Kagawa Prefecture are on display and on sale, and on the weekends, the production of these items are shown. The largest building within the park, Kikugetsu-tei, is a tea house that was built in the Edo Era where you can view the South Lake at your leisure while enjoying either matcha or sencha tea with some Japanese confections. Engetsukyo Bridge is the largest of 15 bridges in the park, and there the reflection of the crescent moon on the lake surface is lovely; brilliant carp can also be viewed there, too. There is feed that is sold for the fish in the park, so you can enjoy feeding the carp while taking that stroll. Also, you can experience a leisurely boating excursion around the 7,900㎡ South Lake, with the view of the garden from the boat paddled by an oarsman being exceptional. Every month on the 4th Sunday from 10:30, there is a koto recital at Kikugetsu-tei.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 410 / Child: ¥ 170

Guidebook from Planetyze about Ritsurin Park
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Ritsurin Park
Tours of Ritsurin Park

Kotohira-gu Shrine

5 Kagawa Attractions for a Great Day Trip

(image by my-kagawa.jp)

Kotohira-gu Shrine is known by the locals as Konpira-san and is dedicated to the god of the sea. Known for its long sando path of stone stairs to the shrine, it takes 785 steps to the main shrine and a total of 1368 steps to the rear shrine. On the way, there are various Important Cultural Properties and other places of interest before finishing that one-way trip to the top in around 30 minutes. At the 100th step, there is Ichinozaka Torii and two Bizen guardian dogs on either side. At the 168th step, there is Tomyo-do with numerous hanging lanterns lighting your way on the sando at night. At the 351st step, there is the general office for Kotohira-gu, the Bronze Lantern and the Roumon which will inform you of the morning and evening schedules.  At Step 365, you will find the main gate, Daimon, for the holy precincts of the shrine, and from Steps 365 to 431, the Sakura-no-Banba is a highlight for the beautiful cherry trees during spring.

During the Edo Era, commoners were forbidden to travel, but they were allowed on religious pilgrimages, and it is said that trips to Ise Jingu Shrine in Mie Prefecture and Kotohira-gu Shrine were events of a lifetime. There were pet dogs who also went on the trip as substitute pilgrims as they were brought from traveler to traveler. Such dogs were called Konpira Inu. At the 431st step, there is a bronze statue of a konpira inu. At the drawing room by the 477th step, the sliding door paintings are open to the public. At the Haraedo-sha Shrine by the 595th step, a god to sweep away sin and corruption is enshrined. The Asahi Shrine at Step 628 is a sight to behold for its lovely ornaments on the inside of the roof. Sakakimon Gate at Step 642 is known for one of its pillars being mistakenly posted upside down. At the Main Shrine Amulet Place of Conferment, you can obtain the Golden Charm of Happiness and the Mini-Konpira Inu. The charms are woven from silk thread dyed in ukon (turmeric), and are popular for bringing health and happiness against illness and disaster. From the observation point, you can get a panoramic view of the Sanuki Plain and Seto Ohashi Bridge.

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Kotohira-gu Shrine
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Kotohira-gu Shrine
Tours of Kotohira-gu Shrine

Naoshima Sento

5 Kagawa Attractions for a Great Day Trip

(image by flickr.com)

Located right by Miyanoura Port where the Naoshima ferries arrive and depart, the public bath known as I Love Yu stands out with its exterior. Designed as a place of exchange between the art-loving tourists and island locals who can relax, this is a facility where you can enjoy art while taking a bath. Based on the designs of Shinro Otake who had a hand in the Naoshima House Project of Haisha which involved turning a former residence/dentist’s office into a work of art, the project for I Love Yu got underway thanks to the cooperation between the creative group graf and Japanese company INAX. With an unexpected design when compared to Japanese sento culture, the world of Otake is reflected not just in its exterior and interior but also everywhere among the bathtubs, bath paintings, mosaic tiles and washroom ceramics.

The bathroom mural of “Female Divers in the Sea” is a true mural consisting of unglazed tiles and illustrations on Gosu porcelain with glaze applied to bring out the gloss and then fired. For both the men’s and women’s baths, two types of murals have been designed. Over the doorways of the two baths, there are works of art placed which leave quite an impact. There is even art on the metal fittings for the showers, and different art can be seen on each of the handles. Aside from the bathrooms, there is illustrated pottery by the toilets and sinks, and art exists everywhere within the facility. Not just famous for the design, the sento also makes use of equipment that is easy on the environment such as a smokeless boiler. At the reception post as you enter, you can get original goods such as T-shirts and towels designed by Otake. A bath set is also sold so you can come to I Love Yu without needing to bring anything. Please be aware that taking photographs is not allowed within the building and that visitors cannot enter the bath wearing swimwear. 

Admission: Adult: ¥ 510 / Child: ¥ 210

Guidebook from Planetyze about Naoshima Sento
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Naoshima Sento
Tours of Naoshima Sento

Art House Project

5 Kagawa Attractions for a Great Day Trip

(image by flickr.com)

Within the old-fashioned townscape of Honmura Ward on Naoshima Island, abandoned homes in the area have been converted by artists into works of art themselves. The project was started in 1998, and currently, there are 7 homes on display: Kadoya, Minamidera, Kinza, Go’o Shrine, Ishibashi, Gokaisho and Haisha. Switching the focus from “nature and art” to “people”, this project has become noticed as a new experiment in art.

Kadoya was the first work completed within the project. It is a restored 200-year-old residence displayed as an art exhibit by Tatsuo Miyajima. Minamidera was designed by Tadao Ando to fit the work by James Turrell. Obtaining numbered tickets is necessary due to a limit on the number of people who can enter at one time. In Minamidera, you can get that sense of the out-of-the-ordinary in the darkness under the theme of light. Kinza is a small house that is over a hundred years old and has been converted into an art work through the use of traditional craftsmanship. Advance reservations are necessary and just one person at a time can enter the house for up to 15 minutes. Go’o Shrine is an old shrine from the Edo Era which has been given a makeover. It is now an artistic structure which includes a glass staircase linking a stone hut to the main shrine. Ishibashi is the restored home of a salt merchant who prospered during the Meiji Era. Gokaisho is a site where the island natives gathered to play the Japanese game of I-go. There are camellia flowers on display in the interior. Haisha was the home of a dentist which has been wholly converted into a work of art by Shinro Otake. It is a building that stands out conspicuously for its style that resembles a painting and a sculpture.

Admission: ¥ 1,030 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Art House Project
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Art House Project
Tours of Art House Project

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Recent Tour Reviews in Kagawa

“ Excellent Guide ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Zachary -   Tour Guide: Mayumi

Mayumi was very communicative and she did a great job with the tour, thank you very much!
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“ Wonderful guide ”

Excellent
3 weeks ago Traveler: Akiko -   Tour Guide: Yuko

She was just incredibly wonderful, such a lovely and thoughtful person. She even brought an extra umbrella in case I didn’t have one. She knew the times of every train, bus, and ferry, and when one bus got filled up she headed right for the taxi stand and we split the cab with people. I would highly recommend her for any Japanese person visiting that art site, too. She also knew the history and b...
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“ You must visit Naoshima for art. Chizuru is a great guide to lead you in a tight timetable ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Avi -   Tour Guide: CHIZURU

The transportation in a day tour to one of the most important art center in Japan is not obvious. There is one taxi in the island, Ten vessels goes daily from Takamatsu and if you miss them or the local bus your trip to Naoshima will be absolutely not effective. We hired Chizuru and everything went smooth. We visited many interesting unique and hidden spots. Chizuru followed our priorities and of...
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“ Best way to do Naoshima ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Jenny -   Tour Guide: CHIZURU

Chizuru is a great guide. She took care of all the logistics so all I had to do was show up. She had a lot of knowledge of the island and it’s art projects. She pointed out details and things that I wouldn’t notice or see on my own. I’m really happy I decided to get a guide for the day. I couldn’t have seen or learned as much as I did without her help. Plus she’s very friendly!
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“ Invaluable ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Jerry -   Tour Guide: Aki

We spent three days with Aki, exploring the Setouchi Trienniale , using Takamatsu as a home base. We never could have done this without him. We had a great time. Thanks again Aki.
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“ What a wonderful day! ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: John -   Tour Guide: CHIZURU

Visited Naoshima during the Setouchi Triennale with her. Not an easy visit, train to port, ferry to the island and bus ride to the sites. One of the museums she had us get tickets before our tour and we're glad we did because it was sold out. Very personable, good command of English and very knowledgeable about the sites and various works of art. Made the art pieces come alive! Arigato Chizuru
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“ A thousand thanks for Chizuru! ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Yaron -   Tour Guide: CHIZURU

Chizuru was everything we could ask for. Seriously one of the best tour guides I have experienced in my life. First of all, due to an approaching typhoon, Chizuru was able to guide us a day before our scheduled itinerary, on a very short notice. She took us everywhere we wanted, knew when should we rush and when we could enjoy the moments during the tour. She also has great English and thorough kn...
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“ Naoshima at ir? best ”

Excellent
1 month ago Traveler: Carlo -   Tour Guide: CHIZURU

We had an incredible visit to Naoshima with Chizuru, who knows the island very well and the places to visit. We had limited time but because of her knowledge of the museums and other sites, she made the most of our visit avoiding crowds. Great guide!!
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“ Great day and guide ”

Excellent
2 months ago Traveler: Bob -   Tour Guide: Keiji

Calm, professional, helped us get through a number of bus and train transitions. Always looking out for the group and very attentive. Good interaction with everyone. Wonderful itinerary, and excellent information. English a little difficult to understand, but content and vocabulary excellent. Could speak more slowly and carefully. But that did not get in the way
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“ An enjoyable day trip ”

Excellent
3 months ago Traveler: Regina -   Tour Guide: CHIZURU

I commend Chizuru-san’s caring attitude and professionalism. She is knowledgeable and observant. She is also quick in checking information for me, and great in managing timing to ensure the full day trip is smooth. I enjoyed the conversation with Chizuru-san, and look forward the next trip to engage her service again!
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