Kagawa Prefecture is the smallest prefecture of Japan by area mass and it is located on Shikoku island. The capital of Kagawa is Takamatsu.
You can stay in Takamatsu and explore the surrounding islands, such as Naoshima and Teshima, which are easy to reach by a local ferry service.
Within this guide I will share with you a fun one-week itinerary on what you can see and do around the Kagawa Prefecture.
Getting to Kagawa Prefecture
If you’re travelling around Japan, Kagawa is easy to visit from Tokyo, Kobe or Osaka. As you make your way down towards Kyushu, the route can connect Kagawa by the local ferry boat network or JR rail network.
Many visitors like to use a combination of boat and train to reach and explore the Kagawa Prefecture, which makes for a fun travel option.
Takamatsu is the main city in the Kagawa Prefecture
You can stay in Takamatsu and use the city as a base to explore all the different parts that the prefecture has to offer. It’s easy to go on mini day trips from Takamatsu.
The city is well connected – for instance, you can get commuter boats from Takamatsu to the surrounding islands.
A highlight for me was to see the Takamatsu castle at sunset which makes for an awesome photo if you can get the timing right. The castle is also conveniently close to the rail network.
Takamatsu is a fun city to explore for a few days, and be sure to try Yakiniku which is Japanese BBQ and popular food in the area.
Try some Yakiniku – Japanese style BBQ in Kagawa
Yakiniku is a must try dining experience on a trip to Japan, and Takamatsu even has Yakiniku district for you to explore.
So why not walk around and find a set menu that interests you and then give this local eating and dining experience a go?
Once you sit at a table, you can order what you like and then start grilling your food on top of the BBQ table. Normally best served with a side salad and pickles along with a selection of sauces and a refreshing beer.
This dining experience is super fun to try, especially with a group of friends.
Here is a helpful video to get you started with Yakiniku:
Ritsurin Garden and tea house
The Ritsurin Garden is situated in the heart of the city of Takamatsu and considered one of its main attractions. This is a picture-perfect Japanese garden so make sure you have enough time to explore the beautiful place.
The Ritsurin Garden is one of the most famous historical gardens in Japan and a must visit on a trip to Kagawa.
The garden contains a tea house and visitors can book a tea ceremony which is a wonderful experience to try in Japan.
Especially with the view of the surrounding gardens, it makes for a magical moment to sit back, relax, unwind and enjoy this unique place. Enjoy the matcha tea and a sweet treat on the traditional Japanese tatami mat.
You can find a traditional boat ride around the surrounding lake of the garden which is also a relaxing experience.
Discover the art of Naoshima island
Naoshima is an island town in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. It’s known for its endless selection of art museums and art instalments.
Easy to get to by ferry boat from Takamatsu, the island makes for a wonderful day trip and is a popular attraction amongst the local Japanese visitors.
Chichu Art Museum
Built into the hillside, the Chichu Art Museum has paintings from Monet’s “Water Lilies” series as well as a whole host of art on display. You can’t take any photos inside the museum so I’m sorry for limited photos.
The building itself has a unique design, and it’s nestled perfectly onto a hill top. It’s truly a breathtaking experience. I found it enjoyable to spend some time here and take it all in.
Benesse House Museum
Benesse House Museum shows contemporary sculptures and installations with a spectacular view from the top of the island.
It’s worth stopping off in the cafe for a break from all the art to enjoy the view on a good clear day. The beaches and landscape of the island are stunning.
Visit Yayoi Kusama’s iconic spotted pumpkin
The most popular attraction on the island is one of Yayoi Kusama’s creations. You can find the iconic yellow spotted pumpkin sculpture at Miyanoura Port.
To get around the island you can also use the public transport bus which has been designed to look just like the pumpkin to make it easy to spot. Be sure to take a picture with this iconic pumpkin which has put the island on the map.
The Art House Project
On the east coast, you can find the Art House Project which is a collection of architectural art pieces that can be found scattered amongst a cosy and peaceful town.
Artists were given some assigned space for the project to create art within the houses, hence the name Art House Project.
As you’re not allowed to take photos within the installations, it’s something you have to explore yourself.
Each house is unique and tells a different story. Purchase your ticket from the tourism information centre and then stamp away at each house you visit.
My favourite installation was the dark room which uses small amounts of natural light for your eyes to slowly adjust to the darkness and to see the house over time. It’s an interesting project and a great way to show how art can be used in empty spaces.
As you can see, there’s loads of art to be explore on this island, and it’s a perfect destination for art lovers. Maybe you want to stay here longer than a day? Or if you have limited time and want to do a day trip, you can pick the galleries that you would find most interesting. The option is yours.
Exploring Teshima island
Teshima is an island located in the Inland Sea of Japan, between Naoshima and Shōdoshima islands, and a part of Kagawa Prefecture. The island has an area of 14.5 square kilometres and a population of only 1,000 people.
Many people on the island are day visitors. You can visit the island by ferry from Takamatsu or Uno, depending on where you want to go next. The most popular attraction on Teshima is the Teshima Art Gallery.
I would highly recommend renting a bicycle for a day to explore Teshima island as car access is not so easy. The bike network is wonderful, and you can easily find a bike rental shop at the boat port.
Teshima island has stunning beaches
I honestly had no idea that Japan had nice sunny beaches – it’s not normally the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Japan. However, Teshima island has loads of lovely relaxing beaches to enjoy on your visit and the landscape is nice to take in on a bicycle, so have fun exploring this island for the day.
No one wins
This is a unique art instalment on the Teshima island, which you can find on route to many of the other art exhibitions. Located in a school yard, it’s called “No one wins”. They also have basketballs, so you can try landing a few hoops. But as the title says, no one wins so best of luck!
Les Archives du Cœur by Christian Boltanski
Located perfectly on the beach you can find a wooden shack which is home to the art installation Les Archives du Cœur by Christian Boltanski.
The concept surrounds the purpose of a simple heartbeat. As you enter you can hear the artist’s own heartbeat in a confined room.
After your visit you can record your own heartbeat, get a CD recording to take home and donate the digital recording to the database collection of other recordings.
A bizarre location for such an exhibition but rather fun and different at the same time.
Have lunch at Shima Kitchen
Shima Kitchen is a locally run restaurant with bicycle parking. All the tasty food is locally produced on the island, and it’s worth stopping off here for lunch.
The fish and vegetables were super tasty and delicious. A specialty is the unique olive soda which is also made on the island. It tastes interesting and is fun to try.
Best to book a table reservation in advance as Shima Kitchen is a popular place to have lunch on the island of Teshima.
Teshima Art Museum
The Teshima Art Museum hosts a single piece of artwork and is located on a hill.
As you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the art instillation, you will simply have to visit and see it for yourself.
The best way to describe the inside is it’s like a spaceship has crash landed on this beautiful island and the best way to experience the installation is to reflect and take some time to relax and take it all in.
It’s a wonderful experience and somewhat bizarre and weird at the same time.
The view from the island out to sea is also wonderful to enjoy on a sunny day so be sure to hang around here for a bit.
It is operated by the Benesse Foundation and the architect is Ryue Nishizawa, so be sure to check out the Teshima Art Museum on your next visit.
Be sure to try some strawberry ice
Strawberries are grown natively on the island of Teshima and they have become quite the attraction. After a long day of cycling, why not try a refreshing and delicious treat of strawberry ice for a unique taste of the island’s produce. Perfect way to end your visit.
Thank you for reading all about Kagawa Prefecture
Thank you for joining me on my fun adventure as I explored Kagawa Prefecture.
I hope you enjoyed following along on the journey and find this blog post a useful resource to arrange your own trip to this unique part of Japan.