Foodie or not, a trip to Kagawa prefecture means inhaling as many udon noodle bowls as possible while in the Udon Kingdom. Going on food-focused tours you can even learn to make the stuff. But what happens in between meals and noodle-themed experiences? On our recent visit to the west part of the prefecture, we got to explore the area and find out things to do in Kagawa. So let’s get our faces out of the udon bowls for a second, and see what else this prefecture has to offer to travelers.
Visit: Chichibugahama Beach is a Must
This beach in Mitoyo, Kagawa prefecture, is a popular year-round spot with locals and visitors alike. Known for its mirror-like tide pools, the myriad of reflection photos taken there are a big hit on social media. It’s good if you time tour visit at sunset, but any other time during the day won’t disappoint. The 1km stretch of pristine sand fills with swimmers and sunbathers in summer, but even if the crowds thin in colder months it is never empty. Chichibugahama beach is lined with restaurants and food trucks serving hot coffee and tea perfect for chilly winters.
The local tourism association has a calendar marking low tide and sunset times and dates so you can plan your visit accordingly.
If you join an udon making tour at Udon House in Mitoyo it often included a visit to this beach too.
Stay: Urashima Village Beach Resort
A brand new, eco-friendly, perfect for workation stay, Urashima Village lives up to the old Japanese legend it draws inspiration from. The legend of Urashima Taro speaks of a fisherman who saves Princess Otohime and is taken to the underwater Dragon Palace as a reward. He enjoys many delights for a few days before he returns to his world only to find out hundreds of years have passed and everyone he knows is long gone. Staying in Urashima Village does make you feel like time doesn’t exist, and when you remember it does you want it to stop so you can stay more here.
The three different buildings are focused on a different theme and color, all of them having a sweeping sea view from all rooms including the bathroom, comfy lounge areas and cozy reading nooks. The beach and sandbank that Urashima Village overlooks are private and guests can swim, do water sports, or fish there. Taking a walk on the sandbank before it is swallowed by high tide reveals a small shrine and a sculpture of the famed Urashima Taro and the turtle that took him to the underwater kingdom.
You can choose to cook in the spacious kitchens or check out the delicacies prepared in their kitchen. A bit of both is the popular Urashima Tamatebako Box – an assortment of locally sourced vegetables, fish and meat steamed on the table in wooden boxes that nod to the last part of the Urashima Taro legend where he is given a mysterious tamatebako box.
Urashima Village was founded by 11 local entrepreneurs who are dedicated to revitalizing the area. Local wood was used to make the furniture, the buildings were built in a way to not disrupt nature, wild plants are protected, and the whole place runs 100% on renewable energy.
You can learn more about Urashima Village and book a stay from their website https://urashimavillage.com/
Explore: The Climb up to Konpira Shrine
To reconnect to the rich culture of Kagawa, a visit to Konpira shrine and the shops and cafes along the way is in order. Formally known as Kotohiragu, this is the main shrine protecting seafarers in Japan. The beautiful shrine complex and the great view from the top are reached after an exhausting climb of exactly 1368 stone steps. And yet, it remains Shikoku’s most popular shrine, with visitors making the climb at their own pace.
You don’t have to hurry, as the pathway to the shrine is lined with souvenir shops and cafes, perfect for little breaks on the way up. You can try udon flavored soft serve ice cream here, complete with soy sauce and chopped green onion toppings. For those with more time, a visit to the Kinryo Sake Museum is a good way to learn more about this drink as well as buy it from the on-site shop.
While in the area, you can swing by Kotori, a tourist info center where you can charge your devices, get some guidance. and book some interesting tours with more things to do in Kagawa.
Try: Sanuki Norizome – Traditional Glue Dying
An age-old craft, Sanuki norizome uses rice glue to draw waterproof stencils on fabrics before dyeing around the pattern. This technique is used in the Konpira area to this day, mostly for Kabuki and fishing boat flags, but it can be applied to any product made of fabric. Visitors to the area who are into arts and crafts will probably appreciate trying a new technique and creating a souvenir they can bring home. Hands-on workshops are available and at this time we tried coloring in a popular fishing boat flag pattern glued on a tote bag. The red snapper is called tai in Japanese and is said to bring good luck because the word for congratulations is medetai. Fishing for puns has yielded a decent catch there.
These are just the highlights, of things to do in Kagawa but a visit to the prefecture will offer much more. Never ever skip the udon, stay in Urashima Village, and visit some of these spots for a great trip, but at the same time feel free to explore everything else this prefecture in Shikoku has to offer.
Learn more about the authentic udon eateries and udon making lessons from our recent trip to Kagawa: