While Takamatsu (高松) is sometimes missed out of an average persons Shikoku trip, it has a few things to keep visitors occupied for a day or so. A well done Japanese garden away from the crowds of other cities, good shopping and small castle grounds are a nice way to kill a bit of time. In addition to this, it is a great starting point for exploring nearby islands.

Budget travel tips

  • Castles grounds are sometimes free in the evening, so check before you enter. Also looks very cool lit up in the dark!
  • If you get early ferries, it is perfectly possible to do both nearby islands below. This will save you money on ferry tickets.
  • Check at the Tourist Information center (in station or downtown) for any ferry discount combination tickets, especially if visiting during the Setouchi Triennale art festival that happens across many Shikoku islands.

Things to do

Ritsurin Garden

The largest Japanese garden to be designated as National Special Scenic Beauty, this one really took us back. Various ponds, mounts and ancient buildings, with seasonal flowers and trees.

Open: 7am – 5pm (can vary depending on season)

Price: 410 yen

Access: From Takamatsu-Chikko (near castle), take the Kotoden Kotohira Line to Ritsutinkoen (8 mins, 150 yen). From JR Takamatsu station, take the JR Kotoku Line to Ritsutinkoen-kitaguchu (5 mins, 210 yen).

Tamamo Park (Ruins of Takamatsu Castle)

A good spot for cherry blossoms, this complex of moats and castle ruins has been well maintained. It is one of only three Japanese castles surrounded by water moats. Takamatsu Castle used to have a commanding view of the surrounding area with a three-story, five-layered, castle tower. Some of this remains today.

Open: 7am – 5pm (can vary depending on season, closed on New Years)

Price: 200 yen

Access: Located just to the east of JR Takamatsu station.

Megijima and Ogijima

The nearby islands of Megijima and Ogijima are cheap to access and both have some interesting attractions, such as caves, various hiking routes and art displays.

Shopping arcades

Head south from the castle grounds to visit what is called the longest covered shopping arcade in Japan. Head off the main roads to see more budget options for food.


With a top resembling a roof, Yashima is another great place to get views over the sea and islands. With 3 viewing points separated by nice walking routes, the 84th Shikoku Shrine is also located here. From JR Takamatsu station, take a local train to Yashima (15 mins, 220 yen). From here take the Yashima Sanjo Shuttle bus to the top (100 yen, 20 mins).

Recommended hostels and cheap hotels

Kinco. hostel+cafe

A very stylish, modern hostel. Private dorm booths keep the noise out, it’s all very clean and guests get a free drink in the café. Highly recommended. Check prices at Booking.com.

More at Booking.com

How to get there

With Japan Rail Pass or Shikoku Rail Pass

From any major city in Shikoku, take a Limited Express train (about hourly).

If coming from Okayama in the main island of Honshu, take a Limited Express (40 mins). You may need to change on the way. Shinkansen trains on the Rail Pass stop at Okayama.

Without a rail pass

Willer Bus has buses to Takamatsu from outside Shikoku (included in Bus Pass). JR Shikoku Bus has a range of routes, but Japan Bus Lines is the best way to search for the cheapest buses from all locations.

From Marugame, you can take a local train on the JR Yosan Line (30 mins, 550 yen).


Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict