Locations - Shikoku

 

Shikoku

Shikoku (which translates as "four countries") is Japan's fourth largest island, located southwest of Japan's main island Honshu. As implied by its name, it is divided into four prefectures (Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima) and has a population of about 3.8 million people. The island is perhaps most famous for a special pilgrimage route which takes in 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kukai. People have been making this pilgrimage for centuries in the belief that if they complete it, their prayers will be answered. This is just one of the many reasons why Shikoku is the place to work and live.

“What’s not to like about Shikoku? With a fantastic team of instructors and Japanese staff, there’s always friendly face and someone there to help you out. From a night out on the town to a mellow campfire by the beach, Shikoku offers so many things to do.”
- Tom, Shikoku Instructor Support Manager

Shikoku boasts delicious fresh seafood due to its proximity to the Inland Sea. Especially famous in Ehime is Tai Meshi, a dish consisting of raw or cooked sea bream over a bowl of rice usually served with a delicious sauce. In terms of fresh products, Ehime is most famous for its mikan oranges, which can range dramatically in price, but all of which are delicious. Due to the fresh water, Ehime produces a wide range of Nihonshu or Japanese sake. Yamatan, which is made in Imabari, has a crisp dry taste that pairs well with the fresh fish served in many restaurants.

Tokushima is famous for its ramen made with pork bones and sweet soy sauce. Bowls of the broth and soft thin noodles are served topped with slices of seasoned pork rib, green onions, and a raw egg that cooks in the hot soup.

Katsuo, also known as bonito or skipjack tuna, is a well-known delicacy from Kochi. Katsuo no Tataki is katsuo that is wrapped in straw and seared. Left rare in the center, it is then sliced and served with condiments and a citrus soy sauce dressing.

Sanuki udon from Kagawa is possibly the most famous of Shikoku’s regional foods. This thick and springy noodle can be eaten various ways. Some prefer it cold with a dipping sauce while others prefer it hot in broth. Both are served with a wide variety of toppings.

“On a day off there’s plenty to do in Tokushima, good bars and restaurants and Karaoke everywhere!”
- Tom, Tokushima instructor

Well-known for its outdoor activities, Shikoku will not disappoint. Kochi is a surfing destination, hosting domestic and international surfing competitions. Surfers can enjoy different atmospheres and waves in both the eastern and western parts of Kochi.

Naruto in Tokushima is popular for its swirling whirlpools. They can be seen in the Strait of Naruto underneath the Onaruto Bridge. Visitors can choose to view the whirlpools up close from boats or a further back from a pathway suspended directly above them or the nearby observatory.

“With the biggest rapids in Japan, the Yoshino river is an ideal place for the fun and excitement of water rafting. Yet the guided raft trips are safe and fun for beginners.”
- Siobhan, Tokushima Yume Town instructor

Well-known for its outdoor activities, Shikoku will not disappoint. Kochi is a surfing destination, hosting domestic and international surfing competitions. Surfers can enjoy different atmospheres and waves in both the eastern and western parts of Kochi.

Naruto in Tokushima is popular for its swirling whirlpools. They can be seen in the Strait of Naruto underneath the Onaruto Bridge. Visitors can choose to view the whirlpools up close from boats or a further back from a pathway suspended directly above them or the nearby observatory.

Take the challenge of cycling the 60-kilometer route on the Shimanami Kaido. The Shimani Kaido is a long toll road that connects Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku. Start your journey from either end of the route that joins Imabari City and Onomichi City and visit the six connecting islands while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Seto Inland Sea and small island towns.

Anyone interested in relaxing in a hot spring cannot miss Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama. As one of Japan's oldest and most famous hot springs, the area is popular for its beautiful bathhouses and many Japanese style inns. The Dogo Onsen Honkan is a wooden public bathhouse with interior of stairways, passages, and rooms. It is also said to have served as inspiration for Miyazaki's popular animated film "Spirited Away".

“Although the main cities are large and developed, Shikoku offers a huge amount of countryside. It’s a good base for hiking and birdwatching, and I’ve become much fitter since I moved here. The landscape changes dramatically with every few train stops you travel south, and becomes quite tropical, with access to beaches that draw surfers and turtle-spotters in the summer months.”
- David, Kitajima instructor

Shikoku has several shopping malls where you can get everything you need. In central Matsuyama, the Okaido and Gintengai shopping arcades link together to form an L-shaped shopping arcade with a diverse selection of shops where you can find an array of brand items and reasonably-priced clothing. There are also shops specializing in kimonos and Japanese accessories.

The Kochi City Market is an amazing Sunday market that stretches from the Otemon Gate to Kochi Castle. There are over 500 stalls along the 1-kilometer route where you can pick up local produce, food, kitchenware, ornaments, and arts and crafts. Get there early as the best deals go fast.

Aside from journeying to the 88 temples on the island, enjoy a relaxing day at Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu. With tours offered in different languages, stroll through the garden and feel and see the scenery change with each step you take.

Naoshima Island, an hour ferry ride from Takamatsu City, is where contemporary art and nature coexist. Some of the traditional houses were assigned to artists to turn them into works of art. Some of the school and gym facilities have unique designs to keep with the style of the other buildings in the area.

Visit Ai-no-Yakata to learn the history and process of "Awa Aizome" (natural indigo dyeing). In the hands-on class you can make your own handkerchief.

“The weather is really good here. It’s great to get out and visit the islands. Shidoshima and Naoshima are sometimes crowded, but fantastic. And I love the ferries, they’re just so fun.””
- Cammy, Takamatsu Yume Town instructor

Sports enthusiasts will have ways to get their fix. There is nothing like the excitement of cheering for your team in the home fan section of one of the Shikoku J. League teams. Diehard fans of Ehime FC, FC Imabari, Kamatare Sanuki, and Tokushima Vortis support their teams with pride. Basketball fans will love to come out and cheer on the Ehime Orange Vikings and the Kagawa Five Arrows.

“Whatever my needs, Nova's staff – from top to bottom – have always been considerate, welcoming, and done their best to assist me in any way possible. Unlike other schools Nova strives to help you improve as a teacher through video, hands-on training and advice. The set curriculum really helps both you, the teacher, and the students, to understand the aims and goals. And the students? From the young child learning English for the first time, to the high school student who dreams of travelling or maybe living in the West; to the businessman or woman who wishes to improve themselves or to the grandparents who love to study English as a hobby – all respect and cherish the handwork you put in, They appreciate you're being there. And they choose to be there because of you. And as I said before, and I will say again, it is a pleasure to share in their growth with Nova.”
- Bernard, Imabari Instructor

The Yosakoi Matsuri Festival in Kochi City runs in August. Thousands of locals attend to watch the dancers parade down the route in their unique costumes and make-up while clapping naruko (wooden hand clappers).

The Awa Odori Festival is also held in August. The unforgettable music of the shamisen, drums, and bells accent the entertaining dances that draw thousands of spectators and participants to Tokushima City each year. It is the biggest festival in Shikoku and is not something to be missed.

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