A Complete Travel Guide to Takamatsu! From Classic Spots to Hidden Gems, Gourmet Foods to Souvenirs!

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Kagawa Prefecture is so famous for its udon that it is sometimes called “Udon Prefecture.” Its “sanuki udon,” a chewy and springy type of udon, is particularly popular. At the heart of Kagawa Prefecture is Takamatsu City, which is not only home to many delicious udon restaurants, but also to plenty of great tourist spots, including Ritsurin Garden, which was given 3 stars in the French travel guidebook “Michelin Green Guide Japan.” This time, we will be introducing the highlights of Takamatsu.

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What Kind of Place is Takamatsu?

The city of Takamatsu is the capital of Kagawa Prefecture, as well as a central city of Shikoku with regards to distribution and economy. It is a port town that faces the Seto Inland Sea, and it is the gateway to Shikoku. It also is flush with transportation options, including trains and buses. Kagawa Prefecture as a whole is famous for its udon noodles, but Takamatsu also offers plenty of sightseeing spots and comfortable lodging.

Scenery of Takamatsu
Scenery of Takamatsu

3 Must-See Spots in Takamatsu

Takamatsu is the capital of Kagawa Prefecture, and as such it is relatively urban, but it is also home to many places where you can bask in the area’s abundant nature. Here are 3 must-see spots to stop by during your visit to Takamatsu, including Japanese gardens, stunning scenery, and castle ruins!

1. Ritsurin Garden

Ritsurin Garden is the largest Japanese Cultural Property Garden, and it has also been designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty. It is a sprawling strolling garden made up of 6 ponds and 13 artificial hills, and it is said to offer visitors a different spectacular view with each step. Ritsurin Garden was granted 3 stars, the highest rating, in the French travel guidebook “Michelin Green Guide Japan.”

View from the hill “Hirai-ho”
View from the hill “Hirai-ho”

2. Yashima

Yashima has been designated as a Seto Inland Sea National Park, a National Historic Site, and a Natural Monument. The island is a flat tabular highland, covered in a horizontal layer of hard rock called “mesa” and surrounded by steep cliffs, giving it the look of a large roof. The mountaintop observatory offers up a stunning view of the city of Takamatsu and the islands of the Seto Inland Sea. The view is so beautiful that it has been selected as one of the “Top 100 Sunsets in Japan,” “Top 100 Night Views,” and “Top 100 Japanese Moons.”

Night view of Yashima
Night view of Yashima

3. The Historical Remains of Takamatsu Castle (Tamamo Park)

Takamatsu Castle was inhabited by the Ikoma feudal clan for 4 generations and the Matsudaira feudal clan for 11 generations. It stands facing the Seto Inland Sea, making it one of the 3 largest seaside castles in Japan. The castle tower once was one of the largest in Shikoku, but it was torn down in 1884 due to deterioration. However, other structures that have been designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan, including Mizutegomon Gate and the 3 turrets Tsukimi, Watari, and Ushitora Yagura, are still standing.

Tsukimi Turret and Mizutegomon Gate
Tsukimi Turret and Mizutegomon Gate

The Best Places to Eat Delicious Sanuki Udon in Takamatsu!

Sanuki udon is characterized by its chewy, elastic texture. Incidentally, Kagawa Prefecture is also known as Udon Prefecture, and it is home to around 700 udon restaurants. We’ve carefully selected popular restaurants in Takamatsu, so take a look!

1. Teuchi Jyudan Udon Baka Ichidai

Udon Baka Ichidai is an udon specialty restaurant that has been featured many times on TV shows and in magazines, and there’s often a long line of customers waiting outside. Their noodles are made using a special flour and are cut by hand in the restaurant. A popular dish is their kama butter udon – egg and butter both coat the noodles, which are topped with black pepper, giving it a carbonara-like flavor. There are also various other types of udon to choose from, including classic meat udon and bukkake udon.

The popular kama butter udon
The popular kama butter udon

2. Udon Honjin Yamadaya Sanuki Flagship Restaurant

Udon Honjin Yamadaya Sanuki Flagship Restaurant has been selected by a famous gourmet website as a restaurant serving authentic sanuki udon. The noodle dough is carefully prepared by talented craftsmen using techniques such as “ashibumi,” “kukimomi,” and “teuchi,” which make use of the feelings in their hands and feet. The restaurant is built on a vast 28,500 square foot property and has been designated as a Tangible Cultural Property. Not only is there a tatami room for guests, but there are also outdoor garden seats, both of which offer up a historic atmosphere.

Specialty dish kama bukkake
Specialty dish kama bukkake

3. Udon Ippuku

“Udon Ippuku Kokubunji Flagship Restaurant” is a well-known restaurant, popular even among its many peers in the home of sanuki udon. When ordering the standard kake udon, you can choose hot and cold for the broth and noodles both. Be sure to make use of the free condiments like green onion and grated daikon radish, as well as your preferred toppings like tempura, to customize the dish to your liking! The price point is also excellent – a carefully-crafted and authentic bowl of udon can be had for as low as 230 yen.

Being able to pick between hot and cold for the noodles and broth both when ordering kake udon is a great boon!
Being able to pick between hot and cold for the noodles and broth both when ordering kake udon is a great boon!

4. Waraya

Waraya is a famous sanuki udon restaurant with an iconic thatched roof and water wheel. The building is a reconstructed Japanese folk house, so customers can enjoy udon noodles while basking in a Japanese-styled ambience. Waraya uses the highest quality of flour to make the best possible udon noodles every day, fine-tuning the amount of salt water used in accordance with the climate, temperature, and humidity. Indulge in delicious and authentic sanuki udon with a secret broth made with carefully selected ingredients and topped with condiments.

Kama-age udon
Kama-age udon

3 Recommended Must-Visit Shopping Facilities in Takamatsu

Takamatsu is one of Shikoku’s central cities in terms of distribution and economy. As such, it is home to various spots that make for great places to stop by, including shopping malls that offer a convenient shopping experience, and shopping streets with a chic and stylish atmosphere. Here are 3 of our recommended shopping facilities in Takamatsu!

1. YouMe Town Takamatsu

YouMe Town Takamatsu is a popular shopping facility, home to around 160 stores that include popular apparel stores, general stores, home décor stores, and electronic appliance stores. The restaurant area features a variety of options, so you can easily enjoy anything from Western-style food to Japanese food, Chinese food, and even fast food. There are also rest spaces dotted about that are free to use, so you can take a break whenever you want.

YouMe Town Takamatsu
YouMe Town Takamatsu

2. Aeon Mall Takamatsu

Aeon Mall Takamatsu is a massive commercial complex made up of primarily Aeon Takamatsu stores, but it also features various specialty shops, including fashion, everyday items, restaurants, and other services. Restaurant options are plentiful, and the 1st floor’s restaurant area and 3rd floor’s food court are packed with choices from a variety of different cuisines, so adults and children alike can enjoy their meals. A walking course is also installed within the facility, so you can get some brisk exercise while you enjoy your shopping.

Aeon Mall Takamatsu
Aeon Mall Takamatsu

3. Takamatsu Marugame-Machi Shopping Street

Takamatsu Marugame-Machi Shopping Street is a long-standing area, with a history of over 400 years. A glass arcade covering hangs over the street about 20 meters off the ground, creating a bright and open atmosphere. It is home to a variety of stores, including long-standing stores, trendy shops, and stores featuring overseas brands. The dome area located at the northern end of the shopping district is reminiscent of Italy’s oldest shopping mall, “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II,” and it is an iconic symbol of the shopping street.

Takamatsu Marugame-Machi Shopping Street
Takamatsu Marugame-Machi Shopping Street

3 Recommended Places to Stay in Takamatsu

The city of Takamatsu is not only in a convenient location, but it also is home to many hospitable hotels and other lodgings, so it’s no wonder it is becoming popular as a sightseeing hub for Shikoku. Here are 3 of our recommended places to stay in Takamatsu!

1. JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu

JR Hotel Clement Takamatsu is a city hotel offering a panoramic view of the city of Takamatsu and the Seto Inland Sea. It is connected directly to JR Takamatsu Station, making it an incredibly convenient point of access. The hotel is extremely clean, so you can relax and enjoy your stay. There are also plenty of restaurants and bars around, so you can enjoy seasonal meals and a drink.

Look out over the city of Takamatsu and the Seto Inland Sea
Look out over the city of Takamatsu and the Seto Inland Sea
Address
1-1 Hamanocho, Takamatsu City, Kagawa
Official Website
Official Website (English)

2. Sanuki no Yu Dormy Inn Takamatsu

Sanuki no Yu Dormy Inn Takamatsu is located right in the center of the city of Takamatsu. Its big appeal stems from the variety of bathing facility options, including a large public bath, and open-air bath, a sauna, and a cold bath. Their breakfast options are also popular, and guests can pick and choose bits of their preferred choices from healthy dishes and local foods.

Open-air bath
Open-air bath
Address
1-10-10 Kawaramachi, Takamatsu City, Kagawa
Official Website
Official Website (Japanese)

3. Ten’nen Onsen Tamamo no Yu Dormy Inn Takamatsu Chuokoen-mae

On the 11th floor of the inn, the highest one, is a natural onsen (hot spring) called “Tamamo no Yu,” which is equipped with a large public bath, an open-air bath, and a sauna. The rooms are outfitted with Simmons beds to facilitate comfortable sleep. They also offer a variety of services, including Dormy Inn’s famous free “Yonaki Soba” service that is held at 9:30pm every day.

Japanese-Western style room
Japanese-Western style room
Address
1-3 Tenjinmae, Takamatsu City, Kagawa
Official Website
Official Website (Japanese)

Don’t Miss Picking Up These 3 Souvenirs in Takamatsu

Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs while you’re enjoying your sightseeing in Takamatsu! Your friends and family are sure to love the area’s famous sanuki udon noodles and traditional Japanese sweets. Here are 3 of our especially recommended souvenirs to pick up in Takamatsu!

1. Kutsuwado “Kawara Senbei”

These “Kawara Senbei” are made with “Shirashita sugar,” which is the raw ingredient that can be refined into a high-grade sugar called Sanuki Wasanbon. The senbei have a simple, nostalgic flavor, and they pair well not only with Japanese tea, but with coffee and milk as well. They come in 6 sizes, from “small tile” sizes perfect for children, to “extra large tiles” that are the same size as real roof tiles. They also make perfect souvenirs thanks to their long shelf-life of 90 days.

“Kawara Senbei” have a simple and delicious flavor
“Kawara Senbei” have a simple and delicious flavor

2. Sanuki Mengyo “Tesage Hansei Udon”

After you enjoy some delicious sanuki udon in Takamatsu, there’s no way you won’t want to share some with your friends and family! As such, we recommend picking up semi-perishable sanuki udon that can be stored at room temperature and has a long shelf life. Various stores sell such products, but Sanuki Mengyo’s “Tesage Hansei Udon” is full-fledged authentic sanuki udon made by craftsmen using traditional techniques. Spread the love of this authentic flavor!

Sanuki udon for souvenirs
Sanuki udon for souvenirs

3. Mitani Seito Hane Sanuki Honpo “Sanuki Wasanbon Sugar”

“Wasanbon” is a dried sweet, made by pressing Wasanbon sugar (made from a specific type of sugar cane cultivated in certain areas of Kagawa and Tokushima prefectures) in a wooden mold until it is hardened. The Wasanbon at Mitani Seito Hane Sanuki Honpo, founded in 1804, melts in the mouth with an elegant sweet flavor. They are also beautiful to look at, making them perfect for gifts. Powdered versions of the sugar that are excellent for cooking and making sweets are also available for purchase.

Wasanbon
Wasanbon

Recommended Events in Takamatsu!

As one of Shikoku’s central cities, Takamatsu also hosts a variety of events. Here are some of our recommended events to check out.

1. Ritsurin Garden Autumn Illumination

Ritsurin Garden is famous as a spot with stunning autumn leaves, so many tourists come to visit during the fall. During a limited period when the autumn leaves are at their peak of beauty, the garden is illuminated at night. The autumn leaves reflect off of the water’s surface with the lights, creating a fantastical and beautiful sight. We also recommend taking a boat ride to leisurely look out at the scenery.

Autumn illumination
Autumn illumination

2. Sanuki Takamatsu Festival

Sanuki Takamatsu Festival is one of Shikoku’s 4 major festivals. Held annually from August 12th through 14th, it has become one of the summer traditions for the city of Takamatsu. The fireworks display held on the festival’s second day is one of the largest in Shikoku, and the sight of the fireworks being launched over the sea is absolutely stunning. At the three-day festival’s climax there is a group dance, and participating teams each put on unique performances. During the festival there are tons of events to check out, including various shows and the Sanuki Udon Eating Championship.

Gorgeous fireworks light up the nighttime summer sky of Takamatsu with vivid colors
Gorgeous fireworks light up the nighttime summer sky of Takamatsu with vivid colors

Summary

We’ve gathered a collection of recommended sightseeing spots, gourmet foods, accommodations, and souvenirs for when you visit Takamatsu. The area has a relatively warm climate and sees little rain, so it’s an excellent choice for sightseeing.
It’s also a great idea to build a robust sightseeing plan to go from Takamatsu, which faces the Seto Inland Sea, to remote islands like Naoshima and Teshima that are famous for their art, or Tokushima Prefecture with its areas of secluded rich nature. Please refer to this article to help make your trip even more enjoyable!