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Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/19 08:28
Hello I am planning my next trip, I want to go around Shikoku with JR Pass, my idea is to use Takamatsu as my main base.

Day 1: Go from Onomichi to Takamatsu and visit Ritsurin and Ogijima is it doable? Overnight at Takamatsu (I'd wake up early to catch first train if needed)

Day 2: From Takamatsu to Naoshima, back to Takamatsu to sleep.

Day 3: Go to Tokushima for Awa Odori, is there anything interesting in Tokushima besides the festival? After festival I'd pick a train back to Takamatsu-

Day 4: Takamatsu to Kochi and back to Takamatsu. (Katsurahama, castle and Godaisan) and back to Takamatsu.

Day 5: Matsuyama, visit the castle, Dogo Onsen and Ishiteji, visit JR Shimonada station for sunset. Overnight at Matsuyama.

Is it doable? I can wake up early to pick first trains if needed I am used to that.

by Peter1986  

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/19 12:01
Are you catching a train or driving?

Shikoku is not that small and it takes longer to get around by car and specifically public transport than other locations in Japan.

Personally - I think what you are doing is feasible but you will not have much time to see things or explore.

How about spending most of your time in Takamatsu and do day trips from there? Eg: Ogijima, Naoshima, Teshima etc....
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/19 13:01
Doable? Technically itfs possible, but I donft recommend it.
Shikoku is a large place, and without bullet trains to get around.
I would divide it at least into two bases, like Matsuyama and Takamatsu, and even more depending on your duration.
Shikoku has its own train pass, so there is no need to but the national JR Pass.
https://shikoku-railwaytrip.com
by 4count (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/19 18:46
I agree with the PPs. It is possible, but not recommended. The time you spend backtracking every day will be a big waste that you could have spent sightseeing. Whilst you can use the limited express trains, on some routes you will not have frequent service and this makes a significant impact on travel plans. Shikoku travel can be a bit awkward to do because of all the criss-crossing and backtracking but minimising it would be my recommendation.

When we went, we caught the ferry to Tokushima, left in a rental car for the Iya Valley the next morning (overnight stay), returned to Tokushima to drop off the car, then caught the train to Kochi (1 night), Matsuyama via a stop at Marugame (3 nights Matsuyama with a daytrip down the western coast), train to Kotohira (1 night), train to Takayama (1 night), ferry to Shodoshima (hired car, 1 night), then ferry back to Honshu.
by Sal1980 rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/19 20:08
I am much more positive about this than other posters. Kochi appears to be your longest day of train travel, and that is only a little over 2 hours from Takamatsu by limited express train. You can easily do the three sightseeing places on your list there if you take the first train, or maybe even the second, from Kochi. But be diligent in your route planning in Kochi and check the tourist bus schedules. They donft run that often, especially on weekdays. Allow plenty of time at Godaisan. The spectacular view doesnft take all that much time to enjoy, but the temple there is nice, and so is Makino Botanical Garden. (I was underwhelmed by Katsurahama myself, but the castle and Godaisan were great. I suppose Ifm glad I went to Katsurahama, just to check it out, though.)

I donft know anything about the Awa Odori or what else to do in Tokushima but I would guess the last train out of Tokushima that night would be popular (get a seat reservation as soon as you can), but itfs a completely feasible gcommuteh from Takamatsu.

Matsuyama is a little far from Takamatsu but youfre not going back to Takamatsu so itfs completely reasonable if you leave early.

And Takamatsu is a logical base for the two island excursions you have planned.

Honestly, this sounds like something I might do myself. I typically get up early and have no trouble catching very early trains. Get to a destination by midmorning, sightsee until late afternoon, buy a nice bento and have dinner on the train, and get back to my base hotel reasonably early and turn in. I can do something like this for four or five days before I get tired and need a break, and I absolutely love not dealing with hotel changes and luggage.

What I would suggest is to get a hotel near the JR station and ferry terminal so you donft have to deal with the added time and logistics of getting to and from those starting points for your daily trips. And carefully research all of your transit and donft time things too tightly. Missing a connection when you have to wait 80 minutes (for example) for the next departure can be a major bummer.

So while what you propose is definitely not for everyone, if you enjoy train travel, then it seems completely reasonable. A lot of people just see long-distance train riding as a necessary evil, but for me it is (usually) a pleasure. I listen to music, enjoy the scenery, and like having my meals on the train. (The music is helpful for when you have obnoxious noisy people on the train. This actually happens fairly often. Sometimes it is those notorious foreigners, but more often than not it is Japanese natives such as groups of ladies in their late fifties or sixties. I just put my headphones on, watch the countryside go by, and bliss out.)
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/19 21:42
As for the first day of your plan, visiting Ritsurin Koen and Ogijima is definitely doable but I would leave Onomichi early. Ritsurin Koen will be open when you get to Takamatsu. I advise against trying to get there by bus. It eats up time and doesn't save all that much money. When you get to the JR Station, deposit your luggage in a coin locker or quickly leave it at your hotel if it's nearby, then hop into a cab and you'll be at the gardens in minutes. Use a cab to get back to the ferry terminal as well. I haven't been to Ogijima but apparently the ferry ride is less than an hour (I don't know anything about the schedules, though). So you could finish Ritsurin Koen by around midday and spend several hours on Ogijima before returning to Takamatsu to check into your hotel.

Or I suppose you could go to Ogijima first. Ritsurin Koen is apparently open until 7 in August. But it will probably be nicer (and certainly cooler) if you go in the morning. If you are a super early riser, you could even do it (or make a second trip) in the morning before leaving for Tokushima (probably not much to do there early in the morning anyway). They open at 5:30 in August.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/20 07:12
I'm interested in this as we have a trip to Shikoku planned for April, and I've been thinking through the itinerary a lot.

We're going to have four nights in Okayama, and do lots of day trips from there, including Onomichi. I'm leaning towards an early start to Kochi direct from Okayama, then back to Takamatsu for two nights. We then have three nights in Matsuyama. We travel with hand luggage only so hope we can put our cases in a locker at Kochi while we visit the castle and other sites.

I'm keen to go to Kotohira and may do that direct as a day trip from Okayama I think.

Like Kim we both enjoy taking the train, and are quite happy to bento our way from place to place. If the choice is a couple of hours on the train each way, or one night at a time in hotels, we'll take the train trips every time. Being in our late 50s the Japanese ladies often end up chatting to us, particularly when we are off the usual track for foreigners.

Whatever you decide, have a wonderful time in Japan!
by Wh (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/20 09:14
Takamatsu resident here.

Your trip is definitely doable, but you'll have to get up early and go to bed late a few times.

The only thing I'm not too sure about is your first day. You can visit Ritsurin and Ogijima on the same day, but I do not advise it, as you'll have to rush a little bit (even more so starting from Onomichi).
It's better than you spread that over two days.
First day, you go from Onomichi to Takamatsu. Spend the rest of the morning getting settled, why not visit Tamamo Park also, and then spend the afternoon on Ogijima (taking the 12pm ferry and return with the 5pm). Then on the second day, visit Ritsurin Garden in the morning (it's always better to visit it in the morning, it was designed as such, in terms of light and such), and something else in the afternoon (Shikoku Mura or Kotohira are two good options easily reachable from Ritsurin).
by DavidSetouchiExplorer rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/20 21:42
How much time do you need for Ritsurin? is it a very big place? and how about Ogijima? is also very big?

by Peter1986 rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2019/12/20 23:40
I don't know about Ogijima, but for Ritsurin Koen I'd say allow a couple of hours at a minimum (actual time in the gardens). It is huge, and one nice feature is that there are many places to sit down and soak in the beauty. There are two main areas of the gardens, and the three times I've gone, I've focused on only one each time. Even then, two hours for me was not quite enough. However, there can be limits to how much you can absorb in a single visit. If you can possibly go twice, it would be better.

Of course, you can have a lovely visit in less than two hours if you keep moving at a steady pace the whole time, but if you like landscape gardens it can be very frustrating if you are on a schedule that forces you to leave early. That said, I was always there in May or June. On a hot day in August I might have gotten out of there sooner.

One thing I have really enjoyed in this garden is the birds. I have brought a pair of small, lightweight binoculars on my visits there and made very good use of them. (It's always hard to draw the line on what to bring on a trip without overpacking, but this is one item I now consider essential.)

Also, I think their gift shop is quite good. I'm not that big on such places, but I have bought several items there, and enjoyed browsing. If you happen to have extra time, it's worth a look.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Shikoku trip doable? 2020/1/14 20:31
I finally rescheduled my Shikoki 5 day stay so it will be:

11/08 From Onomichi to Takamatsu early and leave the lugagge and then head to Ogishima, last ferry is at 5 PM so when I arrive at 5:40 PM I can go around the city a little bit, shotengai, etc.

12/08 Day trip to Naoshima, rent a bike there and spend the day there, last ferry is at 19:45 arriving Takamatsu at 20:30 so still have little time to dinner and walk around a bit.

13/08 Wake up a bit early and go to Ritsurin Park. After that I pick a train to Tokushima to enjoy Awa Odori. Last train is at 22:02 so I get this one back to Takamatsu at 23:20.

14/08 Go to Kochi early, takes around 2 hours, visit Katsurahama and Godaisan and the Hariyamabashi and downtown. If I have time I visit the castle. Overnight in Kochi.

15/08 Go to Matsuyama from Kochi, takes 4 hours. Visit Dogo Onsen (although I am not sure if taking a bath or not since it is all under refurbishment), go to Ishiteji and go to see sunset in JR Shimonada station to take pictures. Takes 50 min and last train back to Matsuyama is at 21:12. If I have time during afternoon I might go to castle before going to Shimonada. Overnight there, the hotel is right next to the main station of Matsuyama.

16/08 Depart to Osaka to the next stage of my trip, since I have been to Osaka and Kyoto 4 times if needed I can spend half day in Matsuyama and pick a train after lunch to Osaka.

What do you think?
by Peter1986 rate this post as useful

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