Touring Japan’s Number Ones by Bicycle: Marugame Edition
Right here in Kagawa, Japan’s smallest prefecture, the city of Marugame has plenty that it’s number one in the country for.
Grab a rental bicycle and spend the day in Marugame as you search out these “Number Ones!”
Begin by renting a bicycle at the station!
7 min. (1.4 km) by bicycle
The tallest stone walls in all Japan
First is Marugame Castle, symbol of the city. Built in 1660, the castle is number one in Japan for three things. The diminutive castle tower?smallest in the country?is perched atop beautiful stone walls that are the tallest in Japan. Climb the steep path to truly understand the impregnability of this castle. Last is the well in the second ring of the castle (ninomaru), said to be the deepest in Japan.
From the castle tower, enjoy a 360-degree panorama of the Sanuki Plain and the Seto Inland Sea. The spot is quite popular for cherry blossom viewing in spring.
(Estimated time: 90 min.)
10 min. (2 km) by bicycle
Uchiwa fan making activity
Each Marugame Uchiwa fan is made by splitting a single rod of bamboo into spokes and handle. Since 1633, the fans have been a souvenir for pilgrims traveling to the famous Kotohiragu Shrine. Nowadays, Marugame accounts for 90% of all domestic production, and is the Japan’s number one “uchiwa town.”
You can even try out part of the process and make your own original uchiwa fan. Give it a shot!
(Estimated time: 1 hour)
▽Uchiwa no Minato Fan Museum 307-15 Minatomachi, Marugame
▽Hatagoya Tonbiii 231-2 Nishihirayamacho, Marugame
15 min. (2.8 km) by bicycle
Nakazu Banshoen Garden and Marugame Museum of Art
Former villa for the Lord of Marugame that took a century to build
Nakazu Banshoen Garden was constructed as a villa for the lord of Marugame, and houses the oldest extant sencha tearoom in Japan, Kanchoro, which was built in the Edo period (1603-1867). Take your time perusing the other highlights of the garden, including the grand, 30-meter long Yogestubashi Bridge, and the Umbrella-Shaped Pine Tree, 630 years old and with a diameter that spread to 15 meters after 300 years.
(Estimated time: 90 min.)
15 min. (2.9 km) by bicycle
Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art
Art museum facing Marugame Station to honor a world-famous painter, Genichiro Inokuma
There is no better place than here to view artworks by the Western-style painter Genichiro Inokuma, born in Kagawa Prefecture.
Right in front of the station, the art museum houses 20,000 works donated by Inokuma, and displays the many soul-enriching artworks in accordance with his dictum, “art is a vitamin.” Don’t miss the cat paintings for which Inokuma is famous as well.
3 min. (500 m) by bicycle
Oikaze (Along the shopping arcade)
You can buy one of the oldest local regional foods in Japan, Kagawa Hontaka Hot Chili Pepper, at Oikaze. The large, flavorful, and long (7-8 cm) Kagawa Hontaka are about four times as hot as regular chili peppers. They work well with different cuisines, so why not get some as a souvenir?
Marugame is the birthplace of one of Kagawa’s famous foods: Honetsukidori Chicken-on-the-Bone. Honetsukidori is made by coating the chicken with a special blend of spices before slowly cooking. Eat it once and you will be hooked! It’s a flavor to come back to again and again.
To find a shop, search for “Honetsukidori” on Google Maps or another mapping service.
★ Side Note
The beautiful Mt. Iino in Marugame looks just like Japan’s tallest mountain, Mt. Fuji, in miniature. Nicknamed Sanuki Fuji, the mountain is beloved by locals as a symbol of the Sanuki Plain.
In spring and summer, many photographers come out take a picture of the “Double Diamond Sanuki Fuji” when the sun lines up with the peak.
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