Let's get into the swing of things with posts from my Shikoku trip. This was last year's summer vacation, over 10 months ago. I spent about six days on the island, bookended by two days in nearby Okayama prefecture.
Shikoku means "Four Nations" or "Four Provinces" and the four current prefectures on the island reflect that history. It's located near Okayama, Osaka, and Hiroshima, isolated from Honshu and Kyushu islands by the Inland Sea. With a mountainous interior and the isolation water brings, it's remained mostly rural. There are rice fields and fruit orchards as well as a good bit of history and nature to experience.
Due to weather issues, most of the "nature" part of my vacation was eliminated, but there is a lot more to experience. As far as tourism goes, most Japanese people identify Shikoku with the 88-temple pilgrimage, an expensive and difficult undertaking that can be very rewarding. But there are also castles, museums, and hiking courses to be found.
Shikoku isn't really known for a variety of food, though two dishes stand out. One, which I didn't try, is grilled bonito. Bonito is a fish similar to, and in the same family as, tuna. This is most famous in Kochi; I spent a few hours in Kochi but didn't have any bonito.
The other dish, which everybody in Japan knows, is udon. Udon is a type of noodle served similar to ramen, in a broth with various toppings. Udon is distinguished by its chewy texture and thick noodle. Made from wheat flour, the most basic and famous version is kake udon, which you'll see below.
Curry udon sounds right up my alley - it's udon with Japanese curry added on top.
Something that tends to be forgotten is the differing local tastes that provide some interesting snack opportunities.
While Shikoku doesn't have a very broad offering of unique foods, what it does have is tasty and fun!