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Shikoku's Sakura Secrets: 8 stunning places to enjoy cherry blossoms in Shikoku

Shikoku's Sakura Secrets: 8 stunning places to enjoy cherry blossoms in Shikoku

Looking for someplace new to visit this sakura (桜 cherry blossom) season? How about checking out Shikoku (四国)? Home to four prefectures filled with breathtaking natural scenery and amazing landscapes, the island of Shikoku has a name that means "four kingdoms", and is made up of Kagawa Prefecture (香川県), Tokushima Prefecture (徳島県), Kochi Prefecture (高知県), and Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県).

 

Despite being relatively unknown to foreign tourists, the island is home to stunning sakura spots, many of them hidden gems. Let’s check out eight of them! 

 

① Mount Shiude (紫雲出山) | Kagawa Prefecture

Viewing period: late March to early April (varies each year) 

Mount Shiude. (Image credit: (公社)香川県観光協会)

 

One of Shikoku’s best kept secrets, Mount Shiude (紫雲出山 Shiude-san) in Kagawa Prefecture is a 352m-high mountain with an observatory from which visitors can see a vast and panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea and the numerous little islands dotting the sea. In spring, about 1,000 cherry trees bloom, bursting into a canopy of pale pink and attracting many visitors. 

 

Stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea. (Image credit: photoAC)

 

With the bright blue of the Seto Inland Sea, the clear blue of the sky, and summit dyed pink from the blooming cherry blossoms, Mount Shiude in spring is a sight to behold. Due to its increasing popularity in recent years, to prevent over-tourism, visits during the peak blooming period (23 March–10 April 2024) now require advanced reservations, which can be made online.

 

Mount Shiude (紫雲出山)
Address: Takuma, Mitoyo, Kagawa 769-1105
Nearest station: JR Takuma Station (詫間駅)
Access: 40-minute shuttle bus ride from JR Takuma Station

 

② Ritsurin Garden (栗林公園) | Kagawa Prefecture

Viewing period: late March to early April (varies each year) 

Ritsurin Garden’s Engetsukyo Bridge. (Image credit: photoAC)

 

A must-visit in Kagawa Prefecture’s Takamatsu City (高松市), Ritsurin Garden (栗林公園 Ritsurin Kōen) was built by a feudal lord, and is designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty. An expansive garden with six ponds and 13 landscaped hills, it has approximately 300 cherry blossom trees, which are mostly of the someiyoshino variety.

 

Ritsurin Garden in spring. (Image credit: (公社)香川県観光協会)

 

The must-see sights in spring are beautiful cherry blossoms reflected on the surface of the Lake Kita (北湖 Kitako), blooming in contrast with the lush green the pine trees. During the peak blooming period, the garden is illuminated at night, during which visitors can experience special Japanese-style boat rides across the lake.

 

Ritsurin Garden (栗林公園)
Address: 1-20-16 Ritsurincho, Takamatsu, Kagawa 760-0073
Nearest station: JR Ritsurinkoen-kitaguchi Station (栗林公園北口駅)
Access: 3-minute walk from JR Ritsurinkoen-kitaguchi station or 7-minute walk from Kotoden Ritsurinkoen Station (栗林公園駅)

 

③ Yaoyorozu no Kami no Goten (八百萬神之御殿) | Tokushima Prefecture

Viewing period: late March to mid-April (varies each year) 

Walk up the mountain under a sakura tunnel. (Image credit: (一財)徳島県観光協会)

 

A well-known local cherry blossom viewing spot of Tokushima Prefecture’s Mima City (美馬市), Yaoyorozu no Kami no Goten (八百萬神之御殿) is located at an elevation of 400m above sea level, and boasts a whopping 8,000 cherry blossom trees.

 

Cherry blossom trees dye the mountainside pink. (Image credit: (一財)徳島県観光協会)

 

Enjoy the sights and take a romantic stroll under a canopy of cherry blossoms along the 1.5km promenade. The beautiful flowers, which colour the mountainside a deep pink, attract many visitors every year, so we recommend going early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

 

Yaoyorozu no Kami no Goten (八百萬神之御殿)
Address: 1701-2 Higashi-Akatanimyo, Waki, Mima, Tokushima 779-3743
Nearest station: JR Anabuki Station (穴吹駅)
Access: 15-minute taxi ride from JR Anabuki Station (穴吹駅)

 

④ Bizan Park (眉山公園) | Tokushima Prefecture

Viewing period: late March to early April (varies each year) 

Bizan Park. (Image credit: (一財)徳島県観光協会)

 

Mount Bizan (眉山) is a symbol of Tokushima City (徳島市), and Bizan Park (眉山公園 Bizan Kōen) on the summit, accessible by a short ropeway ride, is one of the city’s most beloved cherry blossom viewing spots with around 1,000 cherry blossom trees. 

 

Bizan Park is a must-visit in Tokushima during sakura season. (Image credit: (一財)徳島県観光協会)

 

During the daytime, the sight of the park’s blooming cherry blossoms sparkling under the sunlight is simply beautiful, and during the evenings, you can enjoy the night view of Tokushima City from the park. On clear days, in the distance you can see the Asan Mountain Range, the Seto Inland Sea, and even the Kii Peninsula.

 

Bizan Park (眉山公園)
Address: Bizancho, Tokushima 770-0908
Nearest station: JR Tokushima Station (徳島駅)
Access: Take a 10-minute walk from JR Tokushima Station (徳島駅) to the lower station of the Mount Bizan ropeway, then take the ropeway up to go to the park.

 

⑤ Kochi Castle (高知城) | Kochi Prefecture

Viewing period: late March to early April (varies each year)

Kochi Castle. (Image credit: photoAC)

 

Located in the city centre of Kochi City (高知市), Kochi Castle (高知城 Kochi-jō) is one of Japan’s 12 original castles, boasting a rich history dating back to the 17th century. Visitors can enjoy cherry blossoms while admiring the castle’s architecture.

 

Explore the castle park. (Image credit: photoAC)

 

From the top of the castle tower, visitors can command a view of Kochi City. While the park only has around 220 cherry blossom trees, the castle tower is illuminated in the evenings during the blooming period, and is one of the city’s most beloved cherry blossom viewing sites.

 

Kochi Castle (高知城) 
Address: 1-2-1 Marunouchi, Kochi-shi, Kochi 780-0850
Nearest station: JR Kochi Station (高知駅)
Access: 10-minute bus ride or 25-minute walk from JR Kochi Station (高知駅)

 

⑥ Hyotan Sakura Park (ひょうたん桜公園) | Kochi Prefecture

Viewing period: late March to early April (varies each year) 

The star of Hyotan Sakura Park. (Image credit: photoAC)

 

Located in the Hyotan Sakura Park (ひょうたん桜公園 Hyōtan Sakura Kōen) in Niyodogawa (仁淀川) is a 500-year-old cherry blossom tree of the edohigan (エドヒガン) variety. Towering at 21m with a base circumference of 6m, this old tree is a Natural Monument of Kochi Prefecture. Hyotan (ひょうたん gourd) is another name for the edohigan variety, and is so named because the lower part of the flowers swells into a gourd shape when viewed from the side.

 

Scenic countryside views. (Image credit: photoAC)

 

While the ancient tree is the star of the park, there are also other cherry blossom trees and cheery yellow rapeseed blossoms (菜の花 nanohana) that bloom during the same time, and visitors can enjoy scenic countryside views with mountains in the distance.

 

Hyotan Sakura Park (ひょうたん桜公園)
Address: Sakura, Niyodogawa, Agawa, Kochi 781-1505
Nearest station: JR Sakawa Station (佐川駅)
Access: From JR Sakawa Station, take a 30-minute Kuroiwa Kanko bus to Tosa Osaki Station, then take a 15-minute taxi ride to Hyotan Sakura Park.

 

⑦ Matsuyama Castle (松山城) | Ehime Prefecture

Viewing period: late March to early April (varies each year) 

Sakura at Matsuyama Castle. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)

 

Heading over to Matsuyama City (松山市) in Ehime Prefecture, we have another one of Japan’s 12 remaining original castles: Matsuyama Castle (松山城 Matsuyama-jо̄). Located atop the 132m-high Mount Katsuyama, to reach Matsuyama Castle visitors have the option to take a 15-minute walk up, take a 3-minute ropeway ride up, or take a 6-minute chair lift ride up.

Enjoy spring at Matsuyama Castle. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)

 

The castle grounds are vast and spacious, and offers visitors great views of Matsuyama City below and the Seto Inland Sea in the distance. During spring, visitors can enjoy not only someiyoshino cherry blossom trees, but also camellias, late-blooming Oshima cherry trees, Shiogama cherry trees, peonies, and more.

 

Matsuyama Castle (松山城)
Address: 1 Marunouchi, Matsuyama, Ehime 790-0008
Nearest station: JR Matsuyama Station (松山駅)
Access: From JR Matsuyama Station, take tram line 5 to Okaido Station, and walk 5 minutes to the lower ropeway/chair lift station.

 

⑧ Mount Sekizen (積善山) | Ehime Prefecture

Viewing period: late March to early April (varies each year) 

Shikoku’s secret sakura spot: Mount Sekizen. (Image credit: (一社)愛媛県観光物産協会)

 

Finally, we end this article with another one of Shikoku’s best kept secret sakura spots: Mount Sekizen (積善山 Sekizensan). Also known as Iwagi-Fuji, Mount Sekizen is located on the island of Iwagijima (岩城島), and the 3,000 cherry blossom trees that bloom along the mountain trails are said to resemble a celestial maiden’s robe (天女の羽衣), a streak of pink embracing the mountain.

 

Be rewarded with a view from the top. (Image credit: (一社)愛媛県観光物産協会)

 

From the observation deck at the top of Mount Sekizen, visitors can command a panoramic 360˚ view of the surroundings, including the Seto Inland Sea and its various islands. The peak can be reached via a 1-hour hike up from Iwagi Port.

 

Mount Sekizen (積善山)
Address: Iwagi, Kamijima, Ochi, Ehime 794-2410
Access: From JR Fukuyama Station (福山駅), take a 1-hour bus ride to Habu Port (土生港), then take a 20-minute ferry ride to Iwagi Port (岩城港), and walk to the peak of Mount Sekizen.

 

Secret sakura spots... only in Shikoku!

Shikoku is home to a myriad of scenic sakura spots, and these eight are only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re thinking of somewhere different to visit this sakura season, be sure to check out Shikoku in West Japan!

 

Header image credit: (clockwise from top left) (公社)香川県観光協会, photoAC, (一財)徳島県観光協会, Carissa Loh

 

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