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Coordinates: 33°45′N133°30′E / 33.750°N 133.500°E / 33.750; 133.500


Native name:
The island of Shikoku, Japan
Shikoku Region in Japan.svg
Location Japan
Archipelago Japanese archipelago
Area18,801.73 km2 (7,259.39 sq mi)
Area rank 50th
Length225 km (139.8 mi)
Width50–150 km (31–93 mi)
Highest elevation1,982 m (6503 ft)
Highest point Mount Ishizuchi
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan
Prefectures Flag of Ehime Prefecture.svg  Ehime
Flag of Kagawa Prefecture.svg  Kagawa
Flag of Kochi.svg  Kōchi
Flag of Tokushima.svg  Tokushima
Largest settlement Matsuyama (pop. 514,865 [1] )
Population3,845,534 (2015)
Pop. density204.55/km2 (529.78/sq mi)
Ethnic groups Japanese

Shikoku (四国, literally "four provinces") is one of the five main islands of Japan. Shikoku is the second-smallest main island after Okinawa. [2] It is 225 km or 139.8 mi long and between 50 and 150 km or 31.1 and 93.2 mi wide. It has a population of 3.8 million (as of 2015, 3.1%). It is south of Honshu and northeast of Kyushu. [3] Shikoku's ancient names include Iyo-no-futana-shima (伊予之二名島), Iyo-shima (伊予島), and Futana-shima (二名島), and its current name refers to the four former provinces that made up the island: Awa, Tosa, Sanuki, and Iyo. [4]


Chugoku region and Shikoku seen from the International Space Station Chugoku-Region-Shikoku-Japan-ISS-Space.png
Chūgoku region and Shikoku seen from the International Space Station

Shikoku island, comprising Shikoku and its surrounding islets, covers about 18,800 square kilometres (7,259 sq mi) and consists of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kōchi, and Tokushima. Across the Seto Inland Sea lie Wakayama, Osaka, Hyōgo, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi Prefectures on Honshu. To the west lie Ōita and Miyazaki Prefectures on Kyushu.

Geofeatures map of Shikoku Geofeatures map of Shikoku Japan ja.svg
Geofeatures map of Shikoku

The 50th largest island by area in the world, Shikoku is smaller than Sardinia and Bananal, but larger than Halmahera and Seram. By population, it ranks 23rd, having fewer inhabitants than Sicily or Singapore, but more than Puerto Rico or Negros.

Mountains running east and west divide Shikoku into a narrow northern subregion, fronting on the Seto Inland Sea, and a southern part facing the Pacific Ocean. The Hydrangea hirta species can be found in these mountain ranges. Most of the 3.8 million inhabitants live in the north, and all but one of the island's few larger cities are located there. Mount Ishizuchi (石鎚山) in Ehime at 1,982 m (6,503 ft) is the highest mountain on the island. Industry is moderately well developed and includes the processing of ores from the important Besshi copper mine. Land is used intensively. Wide alluvial areas, especially in the eastern part of the zone, are planted with rice and subsequently are double-cropped with winter wheat and barley. Fruit is grown throughout the northern area in great variety, including citrus fruits, persimmons, peaches, and grapes. Because of wheat production, Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん) became an important part of the diet in Kagawa Prefecture (formerly Sanuki Province) in the Edo period.

The larger southern area of Shikoku is mountainous and sparsely populated. The only significant lowland is a small alluvial plain at Kōchi, the prefectural capital. The area's mild winters stimulated some truck farming, specializing in growing out-of-season vegetables under plastic covering. Two crops of rice can be cultivated annually in the southern area. The pulp and paper industry took advantage of the abundant forests and hydroelectric power.

The major river in Shikoku is the Yoshino River. It runs 196 km (121.8 mi) from its source close to Mount Ishizuchi, flowing basically west to east across the northern boundaries of Kōchi and Tokushima Prefectures, reaching the sea at the city of Tokushima. The Yoshino is famous for Japan's best white-water rafting, with trips going along the Oboke Koboke sections of the river.

Shikoku has four important capes: Gamōda in Anan, Tokushima on the easternmost point on the island, Sada in Ikata, and Ehime on the westernmost point. Muroto in Muroto, Kōchi and Ashizuri, the southern extreme of Shikoku, in Tosashimizu, Kōchi, jut into the Pacific Ocean. The island's northernmost point is in Takamatsu, Kagawa.

Unlike the other three major islands of Japan, Shikoku has no active volcanoes, and is the largest of Japan's islands to completely lack them. [5] But Shikoku did experience volcanic activity in the distant prehistoric past; a major volcanic caldera in the area of Mount Ishizuchi was active during the Miocene around 14 million years ago. [6]


Shikoku has a total population of 3,845,534 in 2015. [2] [4] The largest city is Matsuyama (population: 509,835) and is the capital of Ehime Prefecture. Shikoku is the main island with the third largest population density, at 204.55 inhabitants per square kilometre (529.8/sq mi).

Matsuyama 509,835
Takamatsu 418,994
Kōchi 332,059
Tokushima 321,654
Uwajima 86,631
Naruto 58,543
Mima 30,062

Per Japanese census data, [7] and, [8] Shikoku region's peak population was at 1950 and has had negative population growth from 1950 to 1970 and 1990 onward.

Historical population
1920 3,066,000    
1930 3,310,000+8.0%
1940 3,337,000+0.8%
1950 4,221,000+26.5%
1960 4,122,000−2.3%
1970 3,904,000−5.3%
1980 4,163,000+6.6%
1990 4,195,000+0.8%
2000 4,154,039−1.0%
2010 3,977,282−4.3%
2018 3,755,765−5.6%


Society and architecture

Shikoku has historically been rather isolated and therefore it has kept the original characteristics of Japan for a longer period, especially in regards to vegetation and some architectural techniques. There are many Buddhist temples.

The "lost" Shikoku has been described by an American writer, Alex Kerr, who lived in a remote mountain village near Oboke (大歩危) for many years from 1970 onwards.

Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park is located in the south-western part of Shikoku.


Yosakoi festival. Yosakoi Performers at Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri 2008 40.jpg
Yosakoi festival.

Shikoku is also famous for its 88-temple pilgrimage of temples. The pilgrimage was established by the ancient Buddhist priest Kūkai, a native of Shikoku. According to legend, the monk would still appear to pilgrims today. Most modern-day pilgrims travel by bus, rarely choosing the old-fashioned method of going by foot. They are seen wearing white jackets emblazoned with the characters reading dōgyō ninin meaning "two traveling together".

Tokushima Prefecture also has its annual Awa Odori running in August at the time of the Obon festival, which attracts thousands of tourists each year from all over Japan and from abroad.

Kōchi Prefecture is home to the first annual Yosakoi festival. The largest festival in Kōchi, it takes place in August every year and attracts dancers and tourists from all over Japan.


Sanuki udon Kama-age sanuki udon by sekido in Takamatsu, Kagawa.jpg
Sanuki udon

One of the major foods of Shikoku is udon. [9] Udon is often served hot as a noodle soup in its simplest form, as kake udon, in a mildly flavoured broth called kakejiru, which is made of dashi, soy sauce (shōyu), and mirin. It is usually topped with thinly chopped scallions. Other common toppings include tempura, often prawn or kakiage (a type of mixed tempura fritter), or aburaage , a type of deep-fried tofu pockets seasoned with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. A thin slice of kamaboko, a halfmoon-shaped fish cake, is often added. Shichimi can be added to taste. Another specialty is Kōchi's signature dish, seared bonito.

The warm climate of Shikoku lends itself to the cultivation of citrus fruits. As a result, yuzu, mikan and other citrus fruits are plentiful on Shikoku and have become synonymous with the regions they are grown in.


Pioneering natural farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, author of The One-Straw Revolution , developed his methods here on his family's farm.


Shikoku Island League Plus (Ehime Mandarin Pirates) Botchan Stadium(20160416) 02.jpg
Shikoku Island League Plus (Ehime Mandarin Pirates)
J. League (Tokushima Vortis) Naruto Athletic 1.JPG
J. League (Tokushima Vortis)

Historically no Shikoku-based sports team has competed in the top Japanese division of baseball, football (soccer) or even rugby union. Currently the major teams competing in Shikoku's major cities include:

Notable sportspeople

Two time darts Women's World Champion Mikuru Suzuki is a native of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku. [10]


Kochi Castle Kochi Castle09.JPG
Kōchi Castle
Anraku-ji in Kamiita, Tokushima Onsenzan-anrakuji-tahouto.JPG
Anraku-ji in Kamiita, Tokushima


Shikoku is connected to Honshu by three expressways, which together form the Honshū–Shikoku Bridge Project.

The eastern gateway to Shikoku, Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture has been linked to the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway since 1998. This line connects Shikoku to the Kansai area which has a large population, including the large conurbations of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. Therefore, the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway carries a large traffic volume. Many highway buses are operated between Kansai and Tokushima Prefecture.

The central part of Shikoku is connected to Honshu by ferry, air, and – since 1988 – by the Great Seto Bridge network. Until completion of the bridges, the region was isolated from the rest of Japan. The freer movement between Honshu and Shikoku was expected to promote economic development on both sides of the bridges, which has not materialized yet.

Within the island, a web of national highways connects the major population centers. These include Routes 11, 32, 33, 55, and 56.


The Shikoku Railway Company (JR Shikoku) serves the island and connects to Honshu via the Great Seto Bridge. JR lines include:

Private railway lines operate in each of the four prefectures on Shikoku.

Air travel

Shikoku lacks a full international airport but has four regional/domestic airports (Tokushima Airport, Takamatsu Airport, Kōchi Ryōma Airport and Matsuyama Airport). All of these airports have flights to Tokyo and other major Japanese cities such as Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, and Fukuoka. International flights to Seoul, South Korea are serviced by Asiana Airlines from Matsuyama and Takamatsu. There are periodic international charter flights as well.

Sea Travel

Ferries link Shikoku to destinations including Honshu, Kyushu, and islands around Shikoku.

See also

Related Research Articles

Ehime Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Ehime Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Shikoku. Ehime Prefecture has a population of 1,342,011 and has a geographic area of 5,676 km2. Ehime Prefecture borders Kagawa Prefecture to the northeast, Tokushima Prefecture to the east, and Kōchi Prefecture to the southeast.

Tokushima Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Tokushima Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Shikoku. Tokushima Prefecture has a population of 728,633 and has a geographic area of 4,146 km2. Tokushima Prefecture borders Kagawa Prefecture to the north, Ehime Prefecture to the west, and Kōchi Prefecture to the southwest.

Kagawa Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Kagawa Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Shikoku. Kagawa Prefecture has a population of 949,358 and is the smallest prefecture by geographic area at 1,877 square kilometres (725 sq mi). Kagawa Prefecture borders Ehime Prefecture to the southwest and Tokushima Prefecture to the south.

Seto Inland Sea Japanese Inland Sea

The Seto Inland Sea, sometimes shortened to the Inland Sea, is the body of water separating Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū, three of the four main islands of Japan. It serves as a waterway connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan. It connects to Osaka Bay and provides a sea transport link to industrial centers in the Kansai region, including Osaka and Kobe. Before the construction of the San'yō Main Line, it was the main transportation link between Kansai and Kyūshū.

Sanuki Province Former province of Japan

Sanuki Province was an historical province of Japan on the island of Shikoku, with the same boundaries as modern Kagawa Prefecture. It was sometimes called Sanshū (讃州).

Awaji Island Island in the Seto Inland Sea

Awaji Island is an island in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, in the eastern part of the Seto Inland Sea between the islands of Honshū and Shikoku. The island has an area of 592.17 square kilometres. It is the largest island of the Seto Inland Sea.

Honshū–Shikoku Bridge Project System of bridges

The Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Project is a system of bridges connecting the islands of Honshu and Shikoku across the Inland Sea of Japan, which were previously only connected by ferry. It consists of three major connections. All bridges are now controlled by the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company and the Japan Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency (日本高速道路保有・債務返済機構). The system consists of three expressways and their respective bridge systems.

Setonaikai National Park

Setonaikai National Park is a national park comprising areas of Japan's Inland Sea and of ten bordering prefectures. Designated a national park in 1934, it has since been expanded several times. It contains about 3,000 islands, known as the Setouchi Islands, including the well-known Itsukushima. As the park is formed of many non-contiguous areas and covers a tiny proportion of the Inland Sea's total extent, control and protection is problematic, with much of the wider area heavily industrialized.

Japan National Route 11

National Route 11 is a Japanese highway on the island of Shikoku. The most important artery in Shikoku, it originates at the intersection with Routes 28, 55 and 195 in the prefectural capital of Tokushima and terminates at the intersection with Routes 33, 56, 317, 379, 440 and 494 in Matsuyama. Between the terminals, it passes through Naruto and Takamatsu, as well as other regional population centers. Route 11 measures 239.4 km in length.

Yosan Line Railway line in Japan

The Yosan Line is the principal railway line on the island of Shikoku in Japan, connecting the major cities of Shikoku, and via the Honshi-Bisan Line, with Honshu. It is operated by the Shikoku Railway Company, and is aligned approximately parallel with the Inland Sea coast, connecting the prefectural capitals of Takamatsu and Matsuyama and continuing on to Uwajima. The name of the line comes from Iyo () and Sanuki (), the old names of Ehime and Kagawa, respectively.

Kōtoku Line

The Kōtoku Line is a railway line in northeastern Shikoku, Japan that connects the prefectural capitals Takamatsu (Kagawa) and Tokushima (Tokushima). Shikoku Railway Company owns and operates the line, whose name comes from the characters in the cities that the line connects: Takamatsu () and Tokushima ().

Matsuyama Station (Ehime) Railway station in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan

Matsuyama Station is a JR Shikoku railway station on the Yosan Line located in Matsuyama, Ehime, Shikoku, Japan.

Takamatsu, Kagawa Core city in Shikoku, Japan

Takamatsu is a city located in central Kagawa Prefecture on the island of Shikoku in Japan, and is the capital city of the prefectural government. It is designated a core city by the Japanese Government. It is a port city located on the Seto Inland Sea, and is the closest port to Honshu from Shikoku island. For this reason, it flourished under the daimyō as a castle town in the fiefdom of Takamatsu, during the Edo period. Takamatsu is a city with a large concentration of nationwide companies' branch offices, which play a large role in its economy, and it contains most of the national government's branch offices for Shikoku. The castle tower formerly used as the symbol of the city was destroyed during the Meiji period. In 2004, construction of the Symbol Tower, the new symbol of Takamatsu, was completed. The Symbol Tower is located in the Sunport area of the city. The Symbol Tower is the tallest building in Takamatsu, and is right next to another tall building The JR Clement Hotel, which is also part of the Sunport complex.

Dosan Line Railway line in Japan

Dosan Line is a railway line in Shikoku, Japan, operated by the Shikoku Railway Company. It connects Tadotsu Station in Tadotsu, Kagawa, and Kubokawa Station in Shimanto, Kōchi. The line links the city of Kōchi with northern Shikoku and the island of Honshū via the Seto-Ōhashi Line. The first section of the line between Tadotsu and Kotohira opened in 1889, Kochi was connected to the northern section of the line in 1935, and the western extension of the line was completed in 1951. The name of the line comes from "Tosa" () and "Sanuki" (), the old provincial names of present-day Kōchi Prefecture and Kagawa Prefecture, respectively.

Shikoku Kōsoku Bus Co., Ltd. is a bus company in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. The company operates only expressway route buses.

Takamatsu Expressway

The Takamatsu Expressway is an expressway in the Shikoku region of Japan. The expressway is numbered E11.

Kanonji Station Railway station in Kaonji, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan

Kan'onji Station is a railway station on the Yosan Line in Kan'onji, Kagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is operated by JR Shikoku and has the station number "Y19".

Honshi-Bisan Line

The Honshi-Bisan Line is a Japanese railway line which connects Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture with Utazu in Kagawa Prefecture. It is owned and operated jointly by West Japan Railway Company and Shikoku Railway Company. The line is the central section of the Seto-Ōhashi Line, a service connecting Okayama and Takamatsu; as a result, the Honshi-Bisan Line is rarely referred to by itself, but rather as a part of the larger Seto-Ōhashi Line service.

Japan Median Tectonic Line

Japan Median Tectonic Line, also Median Tectonic Line (MTL), is Japan's longest fault system. The MTL begins near Ibaraki Prefecture, where it connects with the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line (ISTL) and the Fossa Magna. It runs parallel to Japan's volcanic arc, passing through central Honshū to near Nagoya, through Mikawa Bay, then through the Inland Sea from the Kii Channel and Naruto Strait to Shikoku along the Sadamisaki Peninsula and the Bungo Channel and Hōyo Strait to Kyūshū.

Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway

The Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway is a tolled expressway that connects Hyōgo and Tokushima prefectures in Japan by crossings of the Akashi Strait and Naruto Strait. Built between 1970 and 1998, it is one of the three routes of the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company connecting Honshū and Shikoku islands. The route is signed E28 under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."


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  8. Shikoku 1920-2000 population statistics
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