TAKAMATSU 高松 & its Vicinity

The Capital of Kagawa

Takamatsu, an old castle town, now a sister city of St. Petersburg, Fla., USA, has been the capital of Kagawa Prefecture for about a hundred years. Irrigated by the River Koto, protected by Yashima and Goshiki-dai lava mesas, its centre is the political, economic and cultural heart of the region. Many branch offices of the national government, major companies and banks further activate the city, while the local colleges, libraries, theatres and mass media offer various cultural experiences to the Kagawa public.

The city and its suburbs have mach in store for tourists, too. Some attractions are manorial or landscape architecture, some are panoramic, while others are of historical, religious, aesthetic or folkloristic interest. Most are conveniently accessible by city buses, sightseeing buses, trams, trains, taxis and cable cars. To residents and tourists alike, shopping and window-shopping in the downtown arcades can be just as enjoyable. So can the night life.

Tamamo Koen Park 玉藻公園

Tamamo Park, neatly embowered by ancient pine trees, provides a calm refuge from the busy traffic swirling around Takamatsu Station and Harbour, the tram and bus terminals, spontaneously attracting many local people as well as tourists.

Originally the park was part of Takamatsu-jo Castle, founded in 1590 by Ikoma Chikamasa. Then it was taken over by the 4 generations of Lord Ikoma as governor of Sanuki, and again by the 11 generations of Lord Matsudaira as governor of the Takamatsu-han.

The seaside castle was popularly known by its charming nickname of Tamamo-jo (Pearly Seaweed Castle), becouse it was built so as to be well-guarded by the sea itself, which was skillfully channelled to fill the triple moats around it. That is why it was called a "marine castle" - one of the very few examples in this country. In fact, the northern ramparts used to be washed by the waves until 1900, when the shore was reclaimed to build a harbour.

Successive tides of modernization had encroached upon this ancient castle until 1954, when one-ninth of the original site was preserved by the city as a park and was registered as a Historic Site, while the rest had been replaced by roads, tramlines, schools, public buildings and residential areas. The air raid in 1945 destroyed some of the remaining buildings in the castle site. Yet all the place names in the ruined castle are still retained in this park.

The Spring Fair and Autumn Fair selling garden plants and pot plants are among the most popular functions. The former lasts generally from March 1 to mid May, while the latter runs from October 1 to November 30. The chrysanthemum show is from October 20 to November 15.

Ushitora Yagura Turret 艮櫓

This beautiful 3-storied turret is an Important Cultural Property, one of the 2 remaining turrets out of the 15 that used to tower here, guarding the 120,000 koku of Takamatsu-han.

Sakura-no-Baba 桜の馬場

Formerly a hippodrome, now a playground mainly for children and senior citizens. It is also a picnic area in early April when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The Chidren's Festival is here on May 5, the national Children's Day.

Chinretsu-kan Museum 陳列館

At the entrance to the hall are elegant scrolls bearing the coat arms of the Matsudairas. The hall houses some of the belongings, documents and mementoes of the Takamatsu-han, including swords, guns, armour, old maps, writings and photos.

Hiunkaku Palace 披雲閣

This Japanese-style plain wood mansion houses the Park Office and a number of formal rooms including a hall as wide as 142 tatami mats (230㎡). Now these are places where local people gather to enjoy cultural activities. The original mansion, twice as large as this one, was the government office and the lord's residence for many generations.

Tsukimi Yagura 着見櫓

This Lookout Turret, an Important Cultural Property, overlooking the Inland Sea for more than 300 years, has always been a welcome Iandmark to sailors and ferry passengers. Beautifully illuminated at night, it still remains a symbol of Takamatsu.

Mizute Gomon Gate 水手御門

This gate, an Important Cultural Property, was where the lord boarded his ship. Lord Matsudaira I also enjoyed swimming at this port using a special technique called Suinin-ryu originated by Imaizumi. Encouraged by the lord and his successors, more and more people came to learn it. Now it is an Intangible Cultural Property registered by the city. Members of the Suinin-ryu Swimming Club annually demonstrete their skill on January 3 at Omatoba Beach.

Matsudaira Yorishige 松平頼重

Matsudaira Yorishige, the first lord of Takamatsu-han is revered by local people with gratitude for his readiness to help the people in time of need.

It was in 1642, when he was 21, that Yorishige, a grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, was sent to Takamatsu to govern East Sanuki.

In his 2nd year in Takamatsu, he saw a serious drought for the first time, even though it was often the case in this part of the country. He saw poor peasants tottering with a kettle in the undergrown rice-plants, while townspeople wearily made a daily trip to Kameido Spring at the southern end of Tamamo-jo Castle to get their drinking water.

Yorishige consulted Yanobe Heiroku, an expert civil engineer he had brought from Edo, the Capital. The old soldier suggested drawing water from Kameido Spring to each house in the town.

There ware neither iron pipes nor plastic ones in those days. But Heiroku, making pipes of wood and bamboo, buried them deep in the ground. By the next year (1644) they ware completed, and cited as the first waterworks in Japan.

The following year saw another drought. Again Yorishige was quite ready to follow Heiroku's advice, this time to build many more reservoirs. The farmaes, greatly pleased, worked very hard. directed by Heiroku and some other specialists invited here by Yorishige. By the end of the same year, they had built as many as 406 new reservoirs, adding to the 960 old ones. No wonder people generation after generation thankfully remembered Yorishige, who had spared them a lot of misery even in a cruelest spell of dry weather.

During the 34 years of his rule, Yorishige proved himself an able governor, promoting local industries such as salt-farming, weaving and pottery, while supporting many temples and shrines, thus encouraging leaning and education. These achievements established a solid foundation for the Matsudaira lordship which lasted for 228 years until 1869, the 2nd year of Meiji.

Ritsurin Koen Park 栗林公園

Ritsurin Park, a National Special Scenic Spot, is one of the largest and most beatiful landscape gardens in this country. Situated at the southern edge of downtown at the foot of Mt. Shiun, 200 m high, it is always a refreshing place to visit. The spacious gardens, exquisitely laid out with a number of shapely mounds, several cool ponds and many tree of rare shapes, provide scores of choice landscapes, with their ever-changing seasonal charms of flowers, blossoms, tinted leaves or snow.

The park is divided into 2 parts - Nan-tei or the South Garden made in the Edo Period, and Hoku-tei or the North Garden from the Meiji era.

The South Garden, to the left of the main East Gate, is the most spectacular of the two. Its origin dates back to the end of the 16th century, when it belonged to a local warlord, and then to Lord Ikoma. From 1642, when it was taken over by the Matsudairas, 5 generations of Matsudaira lords developed it into a larger and larger stroll-type landscape garden for their grand villa. The fashion they adopted was that of Fukiage Gyoen or what is known today as the Inner Garden of the Imperial Palace - one of the masterworks of Kobori Enshu, the most talented garden designers in the Edo Period.

Thousands of trees of about 160 varieties including the celebrated kuromatsu or dark-trunked pine are carefully tended and artistically trimmed. The ponds, highlighted by neat islands and pretty bridges, are lively with ducks and multi-coloured carp. Visitors may enjoy entering one of the pond-side teachouses for a cup of Japanese tea and cake.

The North Garden, to the right from the east entrance, has more open space for picnickers. It was built in 1913, on the site of the Matsudairas' Ducking Ground.

Shoko Shorei-kan 商工奨励館

Sample Fair Halls for Products of Kagawa

Here are displayed a variety of traditional products of Sanuki - lacquer ware, chinaware, earthenware, stoneware, bamboo ware, clogs, gloves, botaori fabric, paper umbrellas and parasols, uchiwa paper fans, ittobori carvings, toys, udon and somen noodles, Japanese wine, olive products, cakes and candies. They are all for sale. Sometimes in the North Hall, a special exhibition is held to display the celebrated laquer ware or other specialties.

(Note: botaori fabrics: a kind of cotton fabric, woven with gassed yarn since the Meiji era. Originally, silk botaori was started in 1689 by Kitagawa Ihei from Kyoto soon to be produced under license of the Takamatsu-han.)

Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse 掬月亭

Kikugetsu-tei, a fine teahouse now, used to be one of the formal buildings for the Matsudairas. Because of its name meaning "Moon-Scooping Cottage," it is suggested that this was where the Matsudairas enjoyed moon-viewing parties with their invited guests. The original building is gone, but the present was restored in 1965.

Sanuki Mingei-kan Museum 讃岐民芸館

This museum exhibits folkcrafts manufactured by techniques native to Sanuki as well as articles from other districts adopted for use in Sanuki.

Hoko-san 奉公さん

This simple papier-mache doll called Hoko-san (Dear Little Maid) is a mascot of the local people. One often hears the following story:

Long ago, there lived a man and his wife in Takamatsu. They had a pretty little daughter, whom they loved dearly. One day she fell ill. Her parents brought her the best doctors and the best faith healers, and nursed her most tenderly day and night. But instead of getting any better, she got worse and worse every day.

They had a nurse-maid called Omaki. She was only about 10 years old. Now she was very sad to see the poor little child getting weaker and weaker. She was sad for the master and mistress, too, who had been so kind to her since she came to live with them a few years before.

Omaki wondered what she could do to help them. She had already done everything she could. But what else could she do to save the life of this beloved one? Then she thought of performing "the 21-night-cold-water-ablution," praying for the child's recovery - the hardest ascetic practice she could offer to Buddha so that her heart-felt wish could be heard.

It was winter. But every midnight, she went down to the well to perform the ceremony, unnoticed - pouring pails of icy water over herself. 20 days passed. But the little one was now dying. It was her last night. She prayed to Buddha for the last time and poured the water again and again and again......

Next morning, the maid was found dead at the frozen well. Then, the man and his wife found their little one getting better and better every day until she was quite well again. How thankful they were! They always remembered "Dear Little Maid", saying she had died for their own daughter's sake.

In former days this doll had some practical use. When a child got ill, this doll was put into its bed for one night to be thrown aways into the sea the next morning. It was believed to have taken away the illness.

Chuo Koen Park 中央公園

Chuo Koen in the heart of downtown Takamatsu is an oasis for office workers and citizens, providing a fine place for open-air concerts, fairs, events and performances.

The biggest event held here is the Takamatsu-matsuri Festival around August 12-14. The finale is Takamatsu-odori Dancing on the last evening when local people in community groups and office groups in special kimono uniforms joyously parade down the main street, finally to dance round and round in this park till late at night.

Kikuchi Kan 菊池 寛 (1888-1948)

A Popular Writer & Cultural Leader

Kikuchi Kan, a distingushed son of Takamatsu, is remembered as a leading figure of Japan's literary and press circles during the precarious 1920's and 30's. He was a popular novelist and playwright, the founder and editor of Bungei Shunju, a most influential monthly even today. The 2 most prestigious literary prizes - the Akutagawa Prize and the Naoki Prize - were also established by him through this magazine.

Hiroshi (Kan was his pen name) was born in downtown Takamatsu as the 3rd son of a school office clerk. His grandfather was a samurai-scholar with a small fief. Even as a school boy he was a bookworm. When the City Library opened in 1905, he was the first to get a library card. In a year or two, he had read all the 20,000 volumes in that library. He was a precocious writer, too. He won prizes in 2 essay contests (metropolitan and national) before he was 20.

At 21, he went up to Tokyo to study. He immensely enjoyed visitiing libraries and theates, making friends with promising writers, including Akutagawa Ryunosuke 芥川龍之介, in whose memory he was to establish the Akutagawa Prize in 1935. But Hiroshi valued freedom, friendship and self-integrity over school regulations and conformity to goody-goodies. So he had to leave one school after another, until he finally found himself in Kyoto. At 26, he become a student of English literature at Kyoto University, from which he graduated at 29.

2 years later, while working as a newspaper reporter, he wrote and published "Mumei sakka no nikki" (The Diary of an Unknown Writer), which turned out to be a great success. Soon he was writing short stories, plays and melodramatic novels in great numbers. The play "Chichi kaeru" (The Father Returns), first published in 1917 only to be ignored, now created a great sensation on stage at a major commercial theatre in Tokyo.

All through the 1920's and militant 30's he was active as a leading moderate among journalists, launching Bungei Shunju (1923), forming what later developed into Japan's Professional Writers' Guild, helping unknown writers further their careers through his magazine and its Prizes mentioned above. But when World War II ended in 1945, his authority in press circles declined as he was associated with the militaristic era.

In 1965, the Kikuchi Kan Society in Kagawa established the Kagawa Kikuchi Kan Prize. In is awarded to the best local writer of the year. His statue stands in the Chuo Koen Park close to his birthplace.

Some of his works translated into English are:

・Tojuro's Love and Four Other Plays by Glenn W. Shaw. (Tokyo, Hokuseido)

・The Madman on the Reef by Yozan Iwasaki and Glenn Hughes in Modern Japanese Literature (1956), edited by Donald Leene. (Tokyo, Tuttle)

・The Realm Beyond by John Bester in Japan Quarterly 7.3 (1960). (Tokyo, Hara Shobo)

・On the Conduct of Lord Tadanao by Geoffrey Sargent in Today's Japan 6.3 (1961). (Tokyo, Tuttle)

Iwaseo Hachiman-gu Shrine 石清尾八幡宮

Iwaseo Hachiman-gu Shrine houses the guardian gods of Takamatsu. It attracts 200,000 visitors during the New Year, while providing a popular place for wedding ceremonies all the year round.

According to its Chronicle it was founded in 918 as a branch of Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu in Kyoto. Lord Matsudaira I was a major contributor to its restoration and prosperity.

Its Grand Festival on October 14 and 15 is a fine occasion to visit there. The deities are borne in a palanquin (mikoshi) for a half-kilometer ride downtown, accompanied by the beating floats of drums and bells. The approach, temporarity closed to vehicular traffic, is alive with rows of stalls. The Spring Fair on May 2 and 3 is another festive occasion.

On top of Mt. Iwaseo (200m) rising to the southwest of Iwaseo Hachiman-gu, there extends a recreation park - Mineyama Koen 峰山公園.

Note: Hachiman-gu or Hachiman-jinja Shrine: Hachiman is the semi-mythical 15th Emperor Ojin deified as a guardian god of warrious. Hachiman-gu shrines came into being in the 8th century when he was enshrined at Usa Hachiman-gu in Oita Pref., Kuyshu. The main god Hachiman is usually attended by his father and mother, the warriors.

There are innumerable Hachiman-gu throughout the country. Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu in Kyoto and Tsuragaoka Hachiman-gu in Kamakura are among the most famous.

The Bald-headed Tanuki at Jogan-ji Temple

Tanuki or raccoon dogs are popular in Japanese folktales for their magical power of transforming themselves into any shape: man, woman, leaves of a tree or simple stones.

Many years ago there lived in Jogan-ji a bald-headed tanuki called Hage-san (Mr. Bald). One cold day toward the end of the year, Hage-san overheard a poor old couple next door talking:

"The New Year is coming, my dear husband. But I'm afraid we have to do without the New Year's rice cake. What shall we do?" said the old woman is a feeble voice.

"Well, I can't tell what to do, my dear, when we have so many bills to pay before the New Year comes," said the old man in a worried voice.

Hage-san felt sorry for them. Then he made up his mind to help the couple, who had always been so kind to him. So he came up and said.

"Don't worry, old man! I'll make some money for you. I promise!"

But he had so idea how to make money. So he went to consult Yashima-Danuki, who was the boss of the whole raccoon dog kingdom on Shikoku. The boss advised Hage-san to search the bottom of the sea between Ozuchi and Kozuchi islands off Takamatsu, assuring him that he would find a treasure ship which had sunk there a long time before.

Hage-san did as he was told, but without success. He was again at a loss. There was no time to lose. He decided to use his usual tricks. He came and said to the old man,

"Go to the front door of the warehouse of Jagan-ji tomorrow morning, and you'll find a gold kettle. That's yours, and you can sell it for the money you need."

Sure enough, the old man saw a gold kettle in front of the warehouse of Jogan-ji the next morning. Of course this shining thing was Hage-san himself, in kettle form!

Soon the old man met an old retired merchant who was wealthy enough to purchase the precious kettle. How happy the old man and his wife were when they paid all their debts and for some rice cake to celebrate the New Year! Hage-san was very happy as well.

The rich retired merchant was also satisfied with his purvhase. He gloated over it, polishing it with a piece of silk cloth, which felt unbearably ticklish to poor Hage-san. To make matters worse, he poured some water in the kettle and put it on the stove. How could Hage-san stay there? He ran away to his home in Jogan-ji.

Then Hage-san found himself even more bald-headed because of having been polished on the head so often. He felt so miserable that he could not help crying his heart out. The good priest of Jogan-ji, hearing him cry, came to see him, consoled him kindly and gave him 3 pieces of rice cake. This at once brought Hage-san back to his sunny disposition. Even today children celebrate this happy smile of Hage-san in a song as follows:

Who was crying so?
Hage-san was crying so.
What made him smile again?
Three rice cakes made him smile again.

In the precincts of Jogan-ji, you will see a line of vermilion torii gates. At their end is Shirahage Daimyojin Shrine dedicated to Hage-san.

Sanuki Kimma & Other Lacquer Ware

Lacquer ware on display in Takamatsu shop windows is likely to include examples of widely-known Sanuki Kimma. They may be chests, vases, cases, bowls, trays, teacup saucers or tie clips, shimmering with delicate lines, reticulations and other patterns. Indeed, they are works of art, and priced accordingly.

The man who started this type of lacquering about 160 years ago was later known as Tamakaji Zokoku 玉楮象谷(1806-1869). His father was a lacquerer of sword sheaths in Takamatsu. This had made him interested in lacquering since childhood. When he grew up, he ventured as far as Kyoto. Where he encountered many contemporary artists along with their works of art. Then while studying Zonsei (Chinese lacquering) and Kimma (Siamese lacquering), he learned to combine two of his talents as a lacquerer and sculptor. He made a wickerwork frame out of thinly split bamboo, undercoated it to make a foundation, painted scores of layers of black lacquer on it, filled in the patterns with some different coloured lacquer and then went through the final process of scraping out the clear-cut mazes of the patterns. That was how he made what came to be called Sanuki Kimma, one of the most celebrated lacquer wares produced in Japan.

In 1830, he was invited by Lord Matsudaira IX to serve the Takamatsu-han for life. One of the articles he dedicates to the Lord in 1839 was a small medicine chest (5.5cm×2.9cm×8.6cm) with about 1,000 tiny insects and other animals inlaid. The Lord then rewarded him with the status of samurai. This medicine chest is now regisered as an Important Cultural Property.

In 1839, he was further awarded the surname Tamakaji, meaning "pearly paper", for his great contributions to the Lord. Besides Kimma, he also pioneered Tsui-shu and Tsui-koku. In Tsui-shu, about 100 layers of vermilion lacquer were carved to reveal delicate stripes like tree rings. In Tsui-koku the same thing was done with black lacquer. (Now this technique has come to be called Choshitsu, often with several different coloured lacquers carved into complicated patterns.) By the time he died at 63, Tamakaji Zokoku had created more than 300 such articles of artistic merit.

In the 1870's, his brother Fujikawa Kokusai succeeded in the mass production of Sanuki Kimma, making it a distinctive product of Sanuki. Then his sons even exported it successfully, yet another measure of the universal appersal appeal of this lacquer ware.

Today, about 270 workshops and companies are producing Sanuki Kimma and other lacquer wares. The prefectural Lacquer Art Institute trains young people who show interest in these arts. Among noted Kimma artists are the the late Isoi Joshin 磯井如真 and his son Isoi Masami 磯井正美, both Human National Treasures. Otomaru Kodo 音丸耕堂, a master Choshitsu artist, has also been designated as a Human National Treasure. Their works are on display at the Yusen-tei Gallery on the Southern Plateau of Yashima. Kimma, Choshitsu, Zonsei and 2 other lacquering arts are designated as "Traditional Techinical Arts" of Japan. These arts of Sanuki lacqering are also applied to a local woodcarving called Sanuki-bori.

Yashima 屋島

  Yashima, a pine-wooded tableland at the northeastern tip of Takamatsu, is one of the world's rare lava mesas - a Natural Monument - about 290 m high, 3 km wide, jutting 5 km out into the Inland Sea. As is suggested by its name, Yashima (Roof Island) used to be an island until the 17th century, when the intervening sea was reclaimed for farmland development.

Now this is a sightseers' mecca, with its Nanrei (South Plateau) and Hokurei (North Plateau) dotted with a number of attractions.

Yashima also overlooks the place where the most decisive sea battles were fought in 1185 between the 2 rival clans ― Genji (the Minamoto clan) and Heike (the Taira clan). A series of epic battles known as "Gempei Gassen" (1177-1185) turned out to be decisive in bringing about a new era of samurai or warriors, producing a large number of revealing episodes which were and still are an inexhaustible source of Jpanese literature and art. The battle fought here was a fatal one for the Tairas. Very few Japanese visit Yashima without being reminded of the battle called "Gempei Yashima no Kassen (Battle)", which is often told in a story as follows:

Gempei Yashima Battle


In 794, Kyoto became the capital of Japan, and it was called Heian-kyo or Peace Capital. Indeed, the new capital was to enjoy peace for about 350 years (811-1155) - the longest peace Japan has ever attained in her history. A gentle civilization flourished during this Heian Period (794-1185). The relics and memories of those blessed centuries still attract millions of people to Kyoto every year.

The last 30 years of this period, however, were far from peaceful. In 1156, the first battle took place in the middle of Peace Capital, thus opening up a new era dominated by martial emotions.

2 martial clans - the Minamotos and Tairas - began to acquire greater and greater influence in politics through fighting against each other in the name of "the Emperor" or "the Ex-Emperor".

IN 1159, the Tairas succeeded in putting off the Minamotos. The 20 years that followed saw the Tairas making themeselves into the most distinguished family, even controlling the Imperial Family. This naturally invited more and more regrets and hostility from the Emperors, the Ex-Emperors, powerful priests, warriors and provincial lords, to say nothing of the Minamotos in exile.

In 1181, the patriarch of the clan Taira-no Kiyomori died just when the Tairas had more and more battles to fight against the Minamotos who were gradually consolidating their power.

In 1183, the Tairas were driven from the Capital to Kyushu along with the 6-year-old Emperor Antoku and his mother, who was Kiyomori's daughter. But they soon found Kyushu inhospitable too, and were reduced to wandering in search of supporters.

In 1184, their faint hope was shattered when they were defeated at Ichinotani by a surprise attack led by Minamoto-no Yoshitsune.

In 1185, Yoshitsune attacked the remaining Tairas first at Yashima, then at Dannoura, where the proud Taira finally fell, the noblewomen casting themselves into the sea with the child Emperor Antoku.

Yashima-ji Temple 屋島寺

The 84th Sacred Site of Shikoku

Yashima-ji Temple at the heart of the South Plateau never fails to draw visitors. Spring and autumn bring a surge of tourists, picnickers and, of course, pilgrims.

Originally this temple was founded on the North Plateau in 754, when Priest Ganjin, a Chinese Buddhist missionary on his way from China to Nara, the old capital, landed on this island to start a temple. Now it ecisits there only as a place name, Sengen-do. In 815, it was re-established here on the South Plateau by Kobo Daishi, thus becoming part of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

The main image, an Eleven-faced Thousand-handed Kannon, 1,200 years old, is an Important Cultural Property. The Main Hall, built in the 14th century, repaired in 1959, is also on Important Cultural Property. The bell in the belfry, made in Kyoto in 1223 and dedicated here for the repose of the defeated Tairas, is another Important Cultural Property. The Temple treasures in the Museum include a folding screen depicting the "Gempei Gassen" battles.

Another popular place is Minoyama Daimyojin Shrine next to the Main Hall, bright with vermilion torii gates. It is dedicated to a legendary bald-headed raccoon dog (tanuki) named Tasaboro, an attendant pet of Kannon here. He is said to have made himself the big boss of all the raccoon dogs in Shikoku. He was unrivaled in the arts of magic. He firmly believed he was of noble stock, too, because his former master was a prince of the Taira clan. On a moonlit night Tasaburo would call together all his fellows on the Island to re-enact the "Gempei Battle" exactly as he had witnessed it, naturally with himself in the starring role. Now Tasaburo is a sort of ubiquitous mascot in Takamatsu.

The Gempei Yashima Festival is held in and around Yashima-ji on the 4th weekend in March. The highlight is the "Warriors' Pageant" representing the principal characters in that epic battle.

Temple Hymn No. 84

Praying here at Yashima, swearing by their bows, how gallant the warriors were!

(あづさ弓屋島の宮にまうでつつ 祈りをかけていさむもののふ)

Note: Ganjin (688-763):Chinese Buddhist priest of the T'ang Dynasty (in Japan in the early Nara period). In 742, he was given a pressing invitation by the Emperor Shomu (701-756) and some Japanese priests who had been searching mainland China for a proper personage to lead their missionary work in Japan. Ganjin, who had already achieved fame and dignity at home, decided to come over to Japan to undertake the responsibility. But the following 12 years saw him try 5 voyages without success because of unfavourable weather. In 753, he finally reached Japan. But one of the voyages had cost him his eyesight.

Chi-no-Ike 血の池 (Pond of Blood)

This pond is so named because the water is always muddy red. Legend has it that after winning the Gempei Battle, Yoshitsune and his men washed their blood-stained swords here.

Shishi-no-Reigan Observatory 獅子の霊巌

This point commands a bird's-eye view of Takamatsu. For the view of after-dark illuminations the toll gate is open till 11 p.m. The shops sell frisbee-shaped crackers (kawarake) for the pleasure of skimming them over the cliff as far as one can.

Yukaku-tei Observation Arbour 遊鶴亭

An hour's hike around the Northern Plateau, Leaving behind the crowds of holidaymakers in the Southern Plateau, is rewarded by a more panoramic seascape at the northern tip of the mesa.

Danko-rei Observatory 談古嶺

This observatory commands a view of the inlet fringed with memorials of the Gempei Battle.

Sanjo Suizokkan Aquarium 屋島山上水族館

Here a huge doughnut-shaped water tank provides a habitat for hundreds of fishes. It is so designed that the salt water in it moves as an ocean current does. Visitors go inside the ring to enjoy the endless panorama of circling fishes. In another huge cistern are varieties of aquatic life from the Amazon. In the outdoor pool there are dolphins.

Another attraction is the "Sea-lions' Show", in which the clever animals play water polo, count numbers and play the piano.

Shikoku-mura Museum 四国村

This is an open-air museum of traditional houses, workshops and buildings from various parts pf Shikoku. An hour's walk along a stony path on the wooded slopes of Yashima will bring you back to a Shikoku of centuries ago. The highlights include a Farmers' Kabuki Theatre from Shodo-shima Island, Kagawa Pref., a workshop for Tosa-washi paper manufacturing from Kochi Pref. and a replica of Kazura-bashi Bridge from Iya, Tokushima Pref.

The last-mentioned is an extraordinary bridge created by Iya people. Iya, a remote village deep in the Shikoku Range, is known as one of the "Taira Villages", where survivors of the fatal battle in Yashima lived in seclusion lest they should be found by the Minamotos. The bridge was made of creepers that could be easily cut if they saw enemies approaching on the other side of the ravine. Now a larger bridge of this type in Iya is attracting not a few tourists. It is fun to try crossing the shaky bridge of vines.

At Waraya, a restaurant adjacent to the car park, a bowl of Sanuki udon can provide the finishing touch to your journey through traditional Japan.

Yashima-jinja Shrine 屋島神社

Yashima-jinja just next to the Shikoku-mura Museum is one of the many branch shrines of Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, dedicated to the first Tokugawa Shogun. After his death in 1616, he was deified as Tosho Daigongen, and many feudal lords contributed to his enshrinement at Nikko. This shrine, built in 1652 in the heart of Takamatsu, was moved here in 1815. In 1882 the deified Lord Matsudaira I of Takamatsu-han was also enshrined here.

Yakuri-ji Temple 八栗寺

Yakuri-ji Tenmple is ensconced deep in the western side of Gokenzan (Mt. Five Swords). The 376.5m mountain does have 4 peaks looking like as many swords thrust into it. But the 5th peak slid down in 1707 in a big earthquake.

These sheer peaks used to provide an ideal place for rigorous asceticism, making Yakuri-ji into a sort of seminary for ascetics. Even today not a few people climb up and down the cliffs by the chains as an ascetic practice.

A legend of Kobo Daishi celebrates the founding of Yakuri-ji temple. The Daishi, before he left for China, climbed this mountain and prayed that his studies over there might be very fruitful, offering 8 roasted chestnuts to the guardian god of the mountain. When he revisited there about 20 years later, he found the roasted chestnuts had grown into as many beautiful trees. He re-established the temple there in 827, naming it Yakuri-ji (8- Chestnut Temple).

In the 1580's many halls and pagodas were reduced to ashes by Chosokabe Motochika. Then they were gradually rebuilt by the Matsudairas.

Anothre attraction of this temple is Kanki-ten, a Buddhist guardian divinity enshrined in Shoten-do Hall. Kanki-ten, meaning "gods in ecstasy", is actually an elephant-headed god and goddess in an inseparable embrace, a motif of Hindu iconography adopted along with Buddhism. They are believed to share their pleasure with their worshippers, also bringing them marital happiness, family well-being and success in business. They attaract many people when the goma fire service is performed early on the 1st and the 16th of every month, even though they are open to the public only once every 50 years.

The number of New Year's visitors to Yakuri-ji is larger than to any other temple or shrine in East Kagawa. During the New Year the highways near here temporarily become one way streets.

Temple Hymn No. 85

Who but an ascetic knows how to consume the passions in the hard-earned fire of wisdom?

(煩悩を胸の智火にて八栗をば 修行者ならでたれか知るべき)

Goshiki-dai Plateau 五色台

Goshiki-dai is a lava mesa about 400 m high, stretching out toward the Inland Sea, creating the city borders of Takamatsu and Sakaide.

Negoro-ji Temple 根香寺

The 82nd Sacred Site of Shikoku

Negoro-ji is known as a spot for viewing maples in November and cherry blossoms in April. As it is a mountain temple, the approach from the Nio-mon Gate to the Main Hall has scores of stone steps. The site is surrounded by a thick grove, the preferred environment for ascetic practices early in the 9th century when the temple was founded by Kobo Daishi here at a height of 370 m.

Later, Chisho Daishi, Kobo Daishi's nephew, built several halls and carved a Thousand-handed Kannon.

However, the whole temple was burnt down in the 1580's by Chosokabe Motochika. It was gradually rebuilt by Lord Ikoma II and Lord Matsudaira I. Then it was turned into a temple of the Tendai sect in honour of Chisho Daishi.

The present main image is another Thousand-handed Kannon carved by Chisho Daishi. It is an Important Cultural Property open to the public only once every 33 years. The serried ranks of countless images of Kannon glimmering in the corridor-like wings of the Main Hall were dedicated here by Kannon worshippers from all over the country.

Legend has it that a white monkey used to guard Chisho Daishi every time he visited this mountain for ascetic practice. Its home was the huge zelkova tree in the front yard which has now died of old age.

Another animal to which magical powers were attributed was Ushi-oni, a bull-headed, winged ogre. It killed men, women and children as well as a large number of animals, until it was shot down by a great archer, Yamada Kurando. Now the monster's statue can be seen in the shady approach to the Main Hall. Somehow it has turned into a guardian deity against devils.

Temple Hymn No.82

The night frost is gone. All that fills our ears now

is chanting and chanting with gongs.

(宵の間の妙なる霜の消えぬれば あとこそ鉦の勤行の声)

Rekishi Minzoku Shiryo-kan

瀬戸内海歴史民俗資料館 (Folk History Museum)

This up-to-date building, which won an award of the Japan Architectural Society in 1975, houses an excellent exhibition of how Sanuki used to be, with 2,843 items designated as Important Folk Cultural Properties. Several thousand articles out of the 50,000 owned by the museum are on view at a time, and a part of the display usually changes several times a year. The highlights of the exhibition are as follows:

・Folklore (Rooms No.1): Sea bream fishing boat; fishermen's working clothes, religious images & flags to celevrate a good catch; tools for rice-planting; ritual implements for harvest festivals; and tools for charcoal making.

・History (Rooms No.2-4): Votive images; miniature cargo boats; illustrated pictures of salt paddies & sugar-making; old maps; guideposts; and costumes for the Farmers' Kabuki.

・Archaeology (Room No.5-8): Statue in ivory of a Naumann elephant; stone implements made of Sanukite; earthen pottery; bronze dotaku (prehistoric ritual bell); swords & mirrors; implements for salt-making; and unglazed ceramic wares.


Sanukite is often called Kan-kan ishi (Clink-clink stone) because this black rock resonates when beaten by a mallet. You can find one yourself while walking on Goshiki-dai Plateau or Mt. Kiyama in Sakaide. Some people make musical instruments of this stone. It was so named in 1891 by Weinschenk, a German geologist, who thought this variety of rock unique to Sanuki.

Kokubun-ji Temple 国分寺

The 80th Sacred Site of Shikoku

Kokubun-ji Temple, established in 741 by the decree of the Emperor Shomu, is one of the National Temples founded in each of the 66 provinces with Todai-ji Temple in Nara as their headquarters.

The former precincts to the right of the main approach, dotted with the 32 foundation stones for the original seven-storied pagoda, are a Special Historic Site registered by the Prefecture.

The Main Hall, rebuilt at the beginning of the 14th cetury, is an Important Cultural Property. The main image, a Thousand-handed Kannon, 5.24 m tall, normally not on view to the public, is an Important Cultural Property, too.

The bell in the belfry is also an Important Cultural Property. It is presumed to be almost as old as the temple itself, the oldest of its kind in this prefecture. Its resonant tone is superb. A well-known story about this bell, seemingly based on fact, goes as follows:

On February 2, 1609, Lord Ikoma II, greatly pleased with the note of this bell, brought it back to his castle in Takamatsu, in exchange for a paddy field he had dedicated to the temple. He had wanted to use it as a bell to mark the hours.

To his disappointment, however, the bell refused to ring well. What is worse, disasters and calamities never ceased occurring to him and to his people after the bell arrived at the castle.

One night he had a dream, in which the bell spoke tearfully to him: "Let me go home to Kokubu, my Lord, let me go home to Kokubu...."

Lord Ikoma, who had been suffering from a strange disease, at once returned the bell to its old home, praying for his quick recovery. This was on March 14 of the same year, as is confirmed by his own manuscript preserved at the temple.

Temple Hymn No. 80

May the Saving Hands be stretched to those who trod
over fields and hills from Province to Province.

(国を分け野山をしのぎ寺々に 参れる人を助けましませ)


There are about 500 Bonsai cultivators in Kagawa, especially in Kinashi-cho in Takamatsu and Kokubunji-cho, producing almost 90% of kuro-matsu, nishiki-matsu and goyo-matsu pine trees. Recently they have succeeded in making Bonsai of olive trees.

Since the 1970's thousands of Bonsai from Kagawa have been exported to European countries and lately to the USA. Now local people are willing to accept students of Bonsai from other countries.

Bonsai does not mean just "dwarfed trees." To cultivate Bonsai is to create a piece of symbolical art out of a living tree. So appreciating Bonsai includes appreciating what it symbolizes.

Japan in Miniature

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Updated on 22 September 2016 | E-mail Steve | 四国新聞社出版『KAGAWA』より

Bilingualism and Japanology - Online publications by Steve McCarty
annotated in English | Japanese: バイリンガリズムと日本学