An introduction to Kagawa prefecture : sea, art and culture

2019年 11月20日

The Prefecture of Kagawa, which has recently gained a whole new exposure thanks to the Setouchi art festival, has many tourists attractions. For anyone who loves contemporary art, architecture, History, temples, food or relaxing on a beach: it is the perfect place to be and it could be difficult to provide an exhaustive description.
Nevertheless, here is a selection of what you really need to discover on your next trip to Japan.

Must see places

  • The islands of the Setouchi Art festival (Setouchi Triennale) 

There is no doubt that Naoshima is the best known of the islands with its museums, Tadao Ando and its Art House Project. However, the inland sea of Seto gathers other islands equally interesting and sometimes a little less touristic such as Teshima, Inujima, Megijima, Ogijima, etc.

A total of 12 islands participate in the festival, in addition to some facilities in the port of Takamatsu and that of Uno. The event, created in 2010, revives rural life through art and culture by developing in old buildings or in new buildings in accordance with local nature. The place is therefore a true representation of one of Japan’s great talents: to succeed in sublimating the past with the present.

A view of Megijima and Ogijima islands

  • Konpira-san :

Konpira is a shinto shrine located in Kotohira town, less than 1 hour from Takamatsu. We don’t know exactly when it was founded but it could date back from the first century. The sanctuary is dedicated especially to the god of sailors and sea fairing and it takes more than 1,300 steps to reach the highest building! During your stroll, you will pass through many traditional shops, offering udon noodles, a speciality here, and the museum of Japanese sake.

One of the buildings part of the Konpira sanctuary
  • Ritsurin Koen garden

The construction of this landscaped garden dating from the Edo era began in the 17th century and was completed almost 100 years later, after numerous embellishments and enlargements. Located in the town of Takamatsu, it has become one of the main attractions with the ruins of the castle. As it was built at the foot of Mount Shion, you will find yourself surrounded by a quiet atmosphere and a beautiful scenery  far away from city buildings. Some use to say that this garden deserves to be ranked among the three most beautiful ones in Japan.

View of Ritsurin Koen
  • Zenigata Sunae :

A strange monumental sand sculpture depicting an ancient Japanese coin in Kotohiki Park that was reportedly built a few hundred years ago, although it is difficult to determine precisely when. Each year, it is redesigned twice to keep its original shape. Although it is not allowed to approach the sculpture, it is still possible to admire it from different points of view and it is sometimes illuminated. 

Its mysterious aspect make the sculpture full of charm and according to the legend, seeing it at least once in your life is a sign of good fortune and prosperity.

Zenigata Sunae


  • Sanuki Udon :

The name comes from the fact that the actual Prefecture of Kagawa, was formerly called Sanuki. The thick noodles of this famous meal can be cooked in many different ways and their price is also very reasonable despite their excellent taste, making it a very popular dish. In soup, cold, without soup, hot, with or without egg, there is a recipe for all tastes. Kagawa has even sometimes been called the Prefecture of Udon. The Hisaeda Udon restaurant in Takamatsu, for example, is well known to Japanese visitors for the freshness of its products, especially the catch of the day.

Sanuki Udon
  • Olives :

We are neither in Spain nor in Provence, but olives are a local specialty here too, especially on the island of Shodoshima, which is considered to be the birthplace of olive production in Japan and offers a beautiful walk in the middle of its Olive Park. Olive cultivation began there at the beginning of the 20th century, in 1908, and was made possible thanks to the climate that could be called the “Mediterranean” of the island.
The olive tree groves of Shodoshima


Art and Museums

Kagawa prefecture has an impressive number of institutions dedicated to art, especially contemporary art.
So here's a new exceptional category for our prefecture guides.

  • Setouchi Triennale :

Having started in 2010, this festival has quickly established itself on the world art scene presenting works of the greatest as Tadao Ando, James Turrell and even Claude Monet, but also of younger and promising artists, as Japanese as international. The islands of the Seto Inland Sea had for many of them greatly suffered from the rapid industrialization of the nineteenth and early twentieth century and had often been left behind with the shutdown of their factories. The festival has helped to renew the economy while often appealing to the local population and their participation, even within some of the artworks. An experience to live absolutely, even outside the festival period since some works remain visible throughout the year.

Sea Vine by Haruki Takahasi on Ogijima Island ©cotaro70s licensed under cc 2.0
  • Chichu Museum :

Located on the island of Naoshima, it is certainly the most famous museum of this selection. Created by the architect Tadao Ando at the request of the Benesse Foundation, the museum does not contain many works, but the way they are displayed and the building itself, created to be in direct contact with natural light, make the spectator live an unprecedented curating experience. Monet, Turrell and De Maria, only three artists but amongst the greatest ones.
A must see. Tickets should be booked ahead.

The Chichu Museum, built underground with natural skylights
  • Teshima Museum of Art :

Also created amongst request of the Benesse Foundation on the island of Teshima, it is the result of the collaboration between the artist Rei Naito and the architect Ryue Nishizawa. The museum consists of a partially open dome that creates a meditative space for the viewer as drops of water trickle down the floor. Built as an immersive experience, it is difficult to estimate an average length of visit as it will depend on the predispositions of the viewer to enjoy the calm offered to him.

The Teshima Museum of Art ©cotaro70s under license CC 2.0
  • The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum

Located in the city of Takamatsu but quite far from the center, this open-air museum exhibits the works of Japanese-American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi. If the museum only opens by appointment, we highly recommend it as the works on display are really beautiful and refined. Visiting time is somewhat limited, so enjoy the moment as much as you can.

One of the designer's famous piece ©Sailko under license CC3.0

  • Kagawa Prefectural Higashiyama Kaii Museum of Art

Centered around the works of Japanese landscape painter Kaii Higashiyama and its very mysterious style, the seaside museum offers a magnificent view as well as a café from which one can admire the bridges crossing the Seto Sea. May be a little less known than those of the rest of the list, it is nonetheless an extremely pleasant discovery that will familiarize you with an artist still fairly unknown in Europe.

The museum's entrance ©663highland under license CC3.0


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