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Late Fall in Shikoku

Whirlpools and castle ruins

On a beautiful clear crisp December morning we took a flight from Haneda to Tokushima. The view from our window of Fuji-san was majestic.

Fuji-san from our plane window
Fuji-san from our plane window

This was our return trip to Shikoku with a packed three-day agenda.

Upon arrival, we boarded a bus from the airport to Naruto Koen to see the whirlpools under the Ohnaruto Bridge. The whirlpools are caused by the tide changes from the Pacific Ocean to the Inland Sea moving at a rapid pace through the narrow strait. Spring and Fall are the best times to observe the whirlpools. We walked along the skywalk to the center of the bridge on glass floors with many viewing places. We also hiked some of the trails in Naruto Park. For the best views of the bridge, you will have to climb lots of steep steps. Lucky for us it was a nice clear morning and worth the physical effort.

Whirlpool
Whirlpool

We then took a bus to Tokushima Station, had lunch. and with a few spare hours before our train, we decided to explore the nearby Tokushima Castle Ruins with attached garden. The garden is a designated national scenic beauty site with lots of stone bridges and one large stone called In-yo. Legend has it that if you touch the In-yo there will be prosperity for your offspring. On the other side of the castle grounds is Central Park with lots of bird watching areas and nice walkways.

Moat of Tokushima Castle Ruins
Moat of Tokushima Castle Ruins

We caught our train for Takamatsu and checked into the JR Clement Hotel with a fantastic 8th floor room view of Takamatsu Castle ruins (Tamamo Park), as well as the harbor. After settling in, we headed across the street to the ruins. During our last visit to Takamatsu, we only had a few minutes to see the park before closing time. This trip, we had well over an hour to explore. This castle was once known as “the castle on the sea”, one of three in Japan. It is a National Historic Site with the original gates and turrets.

Preserved turret of Takamatsu Castle Ruins
Preserved turret of Takamatsu Castle Ruins

Takamatsu has three famous dishes: Sanuki Udon, Olive powder fed Sweet Yellow Tail, and Honetsuki Chicken (grilled chicken on the bone). On our previous trip we ate grilled chicken twice at Furusato Restaurant and loved it. This time we visited the number one rated Ikkaku Takamatsu. First, you have to get there way before the opening at 17:00 to get a seat or the wait time can be up to one hour or more. We arrived a 17:05 and it took close to one hour, but it was well worth the wait. This was by far the best chicken I have ever consumed and the second best was Furusato`s. It was spicy and every bite kept calling for another. Naturally the next night we headed back before opening time and were seated right away. At the checkout counter they gave us a 2022 calendar book. Inside the book was a small flyer; much to my surprise and delight they have a branch restaurant near Yokohama Station. You can order online, so our Christmas dinner will be Honetsuki Chicken.

Honetsuki Chicken (grilled young chicken on the bone)
Honetsuki Chicken (grilled young chicken on the bone)

Getting there

From Tokushima Airport take a city bus to Naruto Koen, walk up the hill to the Ohnaruto Bridge. Take the bus back to Tokushima Station for the express train to Takamatsu. The Tokushima Castle Ruins are just a 500 meter walk from the station.

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Bonson Lam 11 months ago
I remember having grilled chicken in Shikoku, which was marinated with a sesame and soy base and drizzled with lemon juice. It was amazingly tender and the natural chicken juices made it a divine meal.
Kim 11 months ago
I enjoyed my visit to the whirlpools several years ago - it was around the late fall timeframe, too. Interesting natural phenomenon!
Elena Lisina 11 months ago
The photo of Fuji-san is just great! I can't believe I've climbed almost to the summit!
Elena Lisina 11 months ago
Great! We didn't make it to the summit because hadn't planned to stay on Fuji-san over night. I still regret. :(