Shikoku is the smallest of the four main islands that make up Japan, and this article will share some of the best adventure locations found here. There are four main regions of Shikoku, which are Kagawa, Ehime, Tokushima and Kochi.
Each of these regions has its own places of interest for those seeking some adventure, which includes trekking, hiking, water rafting, canoeing or mountain climbing. If you have been looking for some adventure tourism in Japan, Shikoku is one of the places to do this, as it is located quite near to Osaka.
One of the beautiful and amazing views of Ryugado Caves. Photo: Syakeassi.
Ryugado Cave in Kochi
Designated as a natural monument and historical site by the Japanese government, the Ryugado Caves in Kochi are a must visit for anyone who loves trekking, cave exploration and the outdoors. These limestone caves were created 175 million years ago and offer breathtaking views inside with massive stalagmites and stalactites.
Cave experiences include the general trekking inside, and also a 200-meter pitch dark course by using only headlamps. However, you must engage the cave guides for any of these experiences as they are not open for anyone to walk in on their own.
Ryugado Cave Information
- ¥1,100 Adult (high school )
- ¥700 Junior high school
- ¥550 Elementary school
- Additional ¥1,000for the Adventure Course
Address: 1424 Tosayamadacho Sakakawa, Kami, Kōchi Prefecture 782-0005, Japan
Opening Hours: 8.30 AM to 5.00 PM
Tel: +81 887-53-2144
The serene view of the Niyodo River.
Niyodo Blue at Nikobuchi
One of the highest quality of stream water in Japan is found here at the Niyodo River, where the clarity is so beautiful and has a tinge of blue that the locals here call this place the Niyodo Blue. This stunning place is also considered one of the sacred places of Nikobuchi by the locals and a highly popular place for nature lovers and camping.
The Niyodo River runs for 124 kilometres, passing through various towns and nature reserves. Along the river, there is the Owatari Dam where a park is located nearby. Adventurers can choose any part of the river to explore, or participate in some camping as there are campsites found scattered throughout the river.
Address: 1278 Kiyomizukamibun, Ino Town, Agawa-gun
How To Get Here:
- About 55 minutes by car from Ino Exit on the Kochi Expressway.
- Take a train from Kochi Station on the JR Dosan Line to Ino Station, then take the Tosaden Kotsu bus going to Nagasawa for about 50 minutes and get off at Hodono Iriguchi stop. Nikobuchi is about a 20-minute walk towards Green Park.
Kids kayaking along the Shimanto River. Photo: VisitKochi.
Shimanto River Kayaking and Canoeing
For the water sports lovers, the Shimanto River is the place to visit as they offer quite a number of water sports activities here. You can choose from kayaking, water rafting, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding and even snorkelling in the river.
The Shimanto River stretches for 196 kilometres long, and at some points, there are river cruises offered. However, most visitors come here for the main sport of canoeing and kayaking, as the waters here are one of the best in all Japan.
If you are travelling with a family, I recommend you experience the Shimanto River Houseboat experience which is quite affordable and a fun way of seeing the Shimanto River without getting wet.
Shimanto River Houseboat Information
Price: ¥2000 Adults, ¥1000 Children, Free for kids under 7 years old.
Address: 846-1 Tadenokawa, Shimanto, Kōchi Prefecture 787-1229, Japan
Hours: 8.00 AM to 5.00 PM
Phone: +81 880-38-2918
White water rafting along the Yoshino River.
White Water Rafting in Yoshino, Oboke and Koboke
One extreme water sport to experience in Shikoku is white water rafting, and you can do this at the Oboke Gorge and Koboke Station. Another place well known for this is also at the Yoshino River, which is known as the fastest river in Japan, and one of the three greatest rivers for white water rafting. This river is also home to the World Rafting Championship, which took place in October.
The Oboke and Koboke gorge sit along the Yoshino River, and rafters have a choice of places to raft, where each of these locations provides different experiences. There are white water rafting circuits suitable for advanced rafters, and also beginner rafters, hence you need to tell the rafting company which you want to do.
White Water Rafting Prices (Estimates)
One Day Rafting: ¥8,500per person
Kids Rafting: ¥5000 per child
Rafting prices may change depending on the season
White Water Rafting Companies
- ODSS Shikoku – Tel: 0883-84-1131
- Forest & Water Raft – Tel: 0887-75-0920
- Safari Raft – Tel: 0883-76-0745
- Kenmi Rafting – Tel: 0883-86-1099
Visitors crossing the vine bridge in Iya Valley. Photo: Wikipedia.
Iya Valley in Tokushima
For those who love hiking and trekking, the Iya Valley in Tokushima is a great place to do this, as the scenic valley provides one of the most beautiful and natural surroundings in Tokushima. The hiking and trekking here are not stressful, but more of a relaxing kind of trail, where you pass scenic views and cross beautiful natural vine bridges.
Often, many locals call this place dramatic, due to the stunning landscapes which are best experienced in the summer or fall. Overall, staying in the Iya Valley will take you back in time as this place is considered one of the best natural destinations in Shikoku. By staying around here, it will give you easier access to the Iya Valley and its many trekking and hiking trails.
View from the Shikoku Karst. Photo by Kotogurashi.
Shikoku Karst in Kochi
For those who prefer something more challenging, the Shikoku Karst is one of the recommended places to visit. This experience lets you see the beautiful landscape wonders of nature, where it goes up to a height of 1,400 meters above sea level.
The Shikoku Karst also runs along the towns of Niyodogawa, Tsuno and Yusuhara, while there are a few interesting places here like the Forest Therapy Pass and also the Tengu Plateau where farmed cows roam freely in the area. The best time to visit this place is also in the summer months of June and July when flowers bloom all over the plateau.
Address: 4921-22 Otsu Yoshiuno Tsunocho Takaoka-gun, Kochi
One of the viewpoints of Mount Ishizuchi. Photo Yamap.
Mount Ishizuchi in Ehime
For the mountain climbers, Mount Ishizuchi is known as west Japan’s tallest mountain, standing at a height of 1.982 meters above sea level. This former volcano mountain is also known as one of the seven holiest mountains in all Japan, and widely known as the ‘Roof of Shikoku’ by the locals here. When translated in English, the name actually means ‘Stone Hammer’.
For mountain climbers, you need to book a special mountain climbing package, and it is not an easy climb, due to many steep sections along the ascend up. The best time to climb Mount Ishizuchi is also in the summer and autumn, and the climbing season opens on 1st of July every year, and closes in October, just before the winter. This majestic mountain is also part of the Ishizuchi Quasi-National Park.
Address: Saijo City and Kumakogen-cho, Ehime
Stunning autumn view of the Kankakei Valley.
Kankakei Valley in Kagawa
Known as one of the three most beautiful gorges in all of Japan, the Kankakei Valley is a great place to visit for an overall outdoors experience. This picturesque valley is also located in the Setonaikai National Park and offers a ropeway cable car that takes visitors up to the peak of the valley.
For trekkers or hikers, there are two main hiking trails located between the two cable car stations, which takes about an hours hike uphill. The trails are called the East Trail and West Train, and it is relatively easy, but steep on the ascend. The highest peak of the national park is at 812 meters high and is best visited in the summer and autumn time when the colours become incredibly beautiful.
Address: 168 Kankakedori, Shodoshima, Shozu District, Kagawa Prefecture 761-4433, Japan
Tickets: ¥810 one way
Hours: 8.30 AM to 4.30 PM
A hiker seen at Mount Tsurugi. Photo Yamap.
Mount Tsurugi in Tokushima
This is western Japan’s second highest mountain at 1,955 meters, and known as ‘Sword Mountain’, according to old legends. Mount Tsugaru boasts of beautiful panoramic sceneries once you reach the peak, and is considered as one of the favourite hiking and climbing mountains in this part of Japan.
Facilities include a chairlift that takes visitors almost to the top, but you still have to do a short trek once you reach the end point. At the peak of Mount Tsurugi, you will find the Tsurugi Jinja Shrine, some mountain huts, and special wooden boardwalks that lead to numerous viewpoints. For the hardcore hikers or climbers, the trail starts a the bottom of the chairlift and takes about two hours one way up.
Mount Tsurugi Chairlift
Address: Minokoshi, Higashi-Iya, Miyoshi city, Tokushima
Tickets: ¥1030 one way
Hours: 9.00 AM to 4.45 PM
Closed: Late November till April
Location of Shikoku Island in Japan.
The list above only shares some of the more popular places for adventure lovers who plan to visit Shikoku Island, and there are, of course, many other places which have not made this list. That means, if you do further research, you will find more things to do around the island.
Shikoku is connected by train and flights from Osaka and other major cities around Japan and can be accessed easily from any airport. While English is spoken less here, it is not hard to get by as more tourist are starting to visit this part of Japan.
I hope you enjoyed this nature and adventure list, and if you are visiting Shikoku, please do enjoy some of these beautiful places listed here.