Located on Japan’s Shikoku Island, Kagawa is the smallest of the 47 prefectures, which once went by the name “Sanuki.” A nod to its former name, the classic dish this prefecture is famous for is called “Sanuki udon.” It is the most classic type of Japanese udon, which is ubiquitous across Japan, recognizable by its squared-off shape and characteristically chewy texture. Other famous products from Kagawa include Kagawa olives, “honetsukidori” bone-in chicken, somen noodles, and traditional “wasanbon” sweets.
Kagawa’s capital city, Takamatsu, is a port city that’s home to Takamatsu Castle and one of Japan’s most stunning traditional gardens, Ritsurin Koen. A cultural asset that was built in the Edo period, the gardens have been maintained for about 400 years and earned three stars in the Michelin Green Guide. The sprawling gardens feature a teahouse overlooking the pond, Sanuki Folkcraft Museum, and well-kept landscape of pine trees. The biggest city in Shikoku, Takamatsu hosts the Sanuki Takamatsu Festival in August.
Located just a one-hour ferry ride away from Takamatsu Port, art lovers should explore Naoshima Island, in the Seto Inland Sea. Upon alighting from the ferry, visitors will see Yayoi Kusama’s iconic “Red Pumpkin” sculpture, one of the many art installations of the island. Visit Benesse House Museum for contemporary art and architecture, including the Chichihu Art Museum which was built mainly underground so as not to disrupt the beauty of Naoshima’s natural landscape.
Shodoshima, another of Kagawa’s famous islands, is known for “Angel Road,” a sandbar that emerges when the tide is low, and the breathtaking Kankakei Gorge, especially stunning during autumn. Shodoshima is also an area where traditional Japanese food culture is kept alive, such as at Hishio no Sato, the Soy Sauce Village, which has been producing shoyu for over 400 years.
Sanuki udon is the most famous dish of Kagawa. The prefecture is known for being the top producer of udon in all forms, ranging from boiled, raw, and dried udon. Check out this Udon Master Class where you can learn more about Sanuki udon, make it for yourself, and experience an udon tour.
Ritsurin Garden is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. This historical garden in Japan is the nation’s largest Cultural Property Garden. Also, many visitors climb the 1368 steps of Kotohira-gu Shrine, another Kagawa attraction, to pray and take in the beautiful view of Kagawa from the top.
Ryuo Park has a path with a long trail of stone lanterns, making it a great place to take photos. The walkway is lined with cherry blossoms, giving the effect of a cherry blossom tunnel in spring.
Kagawa is famous for its beautiful gardens and natural beauty. Ritsurin Garden has a 3-star rating from the Michelin Green Guide Japan. Another famous Kagawa attraction is Shodoshima, an island that’s known for its “Angel Road,” a long sandbar that visitors can walk on during low tide, and the Marukin Soy Sauce Museum.
Wasanbon is a Japanese sweet that melts in your mouth, mainly produced in Kagawa and Tokushima prefectures. The sweets are cute, making it the perfect gift for friends and family.
Sign up to receive insider tips about the food scene in Japan's most extraordinary areas.