Dreamy sight of Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu
Japan has so much more to offer than its common and widely known tourist spots. Venture off the beaten track and discover the cultural gems of Shikoku Island
I had only visited Tokyo and Okinawa prior to this trip and wasn’t at all familiar with Japan. I had desperately been wanting to learn more about the country and its culture, so when this invitation came along I jumped at the opportunity to explore Japan off the beaten track. Little did I know that Shikoku Island’s landscape, cuisine and customs would be this diverse and mesmerising, and by the end of the trip I was so blown away that I never wanted to leave this enchanted place.
Our plane touches down in Osaka early in the morning and most of us (a little group from Hong Kong) haven’t slept all night, but soon after landing we are picked up by our driver who takes us to Tokushima, which is located on Shikoku Island. On our way there, we pass by Naruto city, which by the way has nothing to do with the famous Japanese anime. Nonetheless, it is home to Pocari Sweat, an energy drink quite familiar to us Hong Kongers.
Our first stop is the Otsuka Museum of Art. Situated in Naruto Park, it is the largest exhibition space in Japan with a floor area of 29,400 sq m, housing over 1,000 full-size ceramic reproductions of major Western masterpieces, including Michelangelo’s ceiling and The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel (in full scale), Picasso’s Guernica, which never leaves the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Even though it’s an extremely unusual and rather odd location for a US$400 million museum with recreations of famous paintings, it enables visitors to appreciate and become more familiar with the work of so many master artists all in one place.
After much walking around and oohing and aahing at how real the reproductions look compared to their originals, we continue our journey to Tokushima for some pear picking at Fruit Garden yamagata. Shikoku Island is well known for its yuzu fruits and scrumptious signature golden pears, and we’re invited to pick our very own pears to bring back to Hong Kong. Of course, we can’t resist but to slice some of the fruits there and then and devour the succulent afternoon snack, as the warm rays tickle our faces while we rest underneath the pear trees. Some of us wait patiently for the owners to make juice to give us a little boost (after all, we’ve barely slept on the plane) to continue our ongoing adventure.