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Exploring the Flavors of Shikoku Cuisine - Japan's Hidden Gem

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Venturing beyond the city streets of Japan, you'll discover a culinary oasis in the lesser-known region of Shikoku. Home to unique flavors and traditional dishes, Shikoku's cuisine is influenced by its geography and culture.

This blog post will take you on a journey through this hidden gem, introducing must-try local delicacies and shedding light on how to make your own noodles in Shikoku! So get ready: an exciting gastronomic adventure awaits!

Key Takeaways

  • Shikoku's cuisine is influenced by its geography and culture, resulting in unique flavors and traditional dishes.

  • The region's use of local ingredients, such as mikan mandarins and yuzu citrus fruit, adds an authentic spin to its dishes.

  • Shikoku offers a diverse range of must - try delicacies, including Mikan/Orange Juice and Chuchu Jelly from Ehime, Botchan Dango and Ichiroku Tart from Ehime, Yuzu and Mire Biscuits from Kochi, Awa Bancha tea from Tokushima, Soy Sauce and Olive Oil from Kagawa, and Udon noodles from Kagawa.

  • Exploring Shikoku's noodle - based cuisine is a delightful experience with dishes like Sanuki Udon in Kagawa Prefecture.

Geographical Overview of Shikoku

Shikoku, Japan's smallest island, boasts an impressive geographical landscape that complements its unique culture and cuisine. Framed between Honshu and Kyushu, this compact region is divided into four distinct prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima.

Each one home to a variety of delicacies born from the influence of their respective landscapes.

From the ancient castles and Edo-period towns in Ehime to the world-class art island in Kagawa Prefecture; each offers a diverse backdrop for exploring Shikoku's culinary landscape.

Travelers can relish in vibrant citrus flavors under Matsuyama Castle or enjoy Udon noodles near Dogo Onsen—the oldest hot spring bathhouse in Japan! Despite its small size compared to other regions like Tokyo or Kyoto on Honshu Island or Hokkaido up north; Shikoku sets itself apart as an underrated food paradise worth discovering.

The Unique Cuisine of Shikoku

Shikoku's cuisine is known for its use of local ingredients and the influence of the region's geography on its dishes.

Importance of Local Ingredients

In Shikoku, local ingredients are king. Ehime Prefecture shines in this realm with its famous mikan mandarins, a citrus fruit that adds a distinctive tang to the region's cuisine. These fruits often find their way into refreshing beverages like Mikan Orange Juice and delightful sweet treats such as Chuchu Jelly.

Shifting our focus to Kochi Prefecture, we uncover another testament to Shikoku's commitment to local produce. As the leading producer of yuzu in Japan, Kochi introduces a unique flavor profile into its dishes through this locally grown citrus fruit.

Kagawa adds another vibrant thread to this culinary tapestry with soy sauce from the expansive groves of Shodoshima Island and Udon noodles enthusiastically consumed by locals. The prominence of these indigenous ingredients puts an authentic spin on dishes while simultaneously celebrating regional diversity within Japan.

Influence of Geography on Cuisine

Shikoku, Japan's smallest island, offers a variety of culinary delights that take advantage of its coastal and mountainous geography. The island's abundant citrus groves thrive in the sun-soaked climate producing delicious mikan mandarin oranges in Ehime Prefecture.

Visitors to Matsuyama Airport or Castle can enjoy this sweet produce straight from the tap with their unique orange juice faucets.

Not just oranges, Shikoku's geography also plays a vital role in flavoring its distinctive local dishes. Kochi Prefecture leads yuzu production on the island, owing to its geographical advantage which results in quality fruits year-round.

This acidic fruit adds zest to many local dishes and even makes for delectable treats like Mire biscuits from Nomura.

With rugged mountains stretching along the spine of Shikoku Island come numerous fertile valleys perfect for tea cultivation. Tokushima is home to Awa Bancha - an exclusive tea different from regular bancha due to its soft sweetness and earthy undertone shaped by these very geographic factors.

The coasts too play their part; Kagawa's proximity to Seto Inland Sea yields fresh seafood key ingredients including soy sauce and olive oil sourced directly from Shodoshima Island - playing an unsurpassable role in shaping regional specialties like Sanuki udon.

Must-Try Delicacies in Shikoku

Indulge in the refreshing flavors of Mikan/Orange Juice and Chuchu Jelly from Ehime, or satisfy your sweet tooth with Botchan Dango and Ichiroku Tart; venture into Kochi for the tangy taste of Yuzu and Mire Biscuits, while savoring Awa Bancha in Tokushima; explore Kagawa's culinary wonders with Soy Sauce and Olive Oil, paired perfectly with a steaming bowl of Udon.

Mikan/Orange Juice and Chuchu Jelly (Ehime)

mikan orange juice and chuchu jelly

Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku is famous for its juicy mikan mandarins, making it a haven for citrus enthusiasts. If you find yourself in Ehime, don't miss the chance to indulge in some freshly squeezed orange juice.

In fact, Matsuyama Airport and Matsuyama Castle even have orange juice faucets where visitors can enjoy unlimited juice for a small fee. The region's love affair with citrus extends beyond just drinking orange juice – they also produce a delightful snack called Chuchu Jelly.

Made by Tanabe Seika, the top-ranking company in the 2011 Japan Snack Rankings, Chuchu Jelly perfectly captures the authentic flavors of Ehime's citrus fruit. So whether you're sipping on fresh orange juice or enjoying these tasty jellies, Ehime is sure to satisfy your citrus cravings while exploring Shikoku's culinary delights.

Botchan Dango and Ichiroku Tart (Ehime)

botchan dango and ichiroku tart

Botchan Dango and Ichiroku Tart are two must-try delicacies in Shikoku, particularly in Ehime Prefecture. Botchan Dango is a sweet dumpling made from three colored mochi balls. Each color represents a different flavor – red bean paste, matcha, and adzuki bean.

It's not only delicious but also holds cultural significance as it represents the famous novel character, Botchan, from Matsuyama City. On the other hand, Ichiroku Tart is a delectable pastry filled with creamy custard made from locally grown lemons in Ehime.

This tart perfectly highlights the unique citrus flavors of Ehime and delivers an irresistible burst of tangy sweetness.

Yuzu and Mire Biscuits (Kochi)

yuzu and mire biscuits

Yuzu, a highly nutritious citrus fruit packed with antioxidants, is a beloved ingredient in Shikoku's cuisine. And when it comes to yuzu production, Kochi Prefecture takes the lead.

One of the delightful treats you must try is Mire Biscuits from Kochi. These biscuits are known for their rich umami flavor and satisfyingly salty taste. They perfectly capture the essence of this unique region, making them an irresistible snack for any food enthusiast exploring Shikoku's culinary delights.

Awa Bancha (Tokushima)

awa bancha

Awa Bancha, a unique tea from Tokushima in Shikoku, offers a delightful taste experience for tea enthusiasts. Unlike regular bancha tea, Awa Bancha has a soft sweetness combined with an earthy undertone.

This exclusive tea is crafted using a fermentation process that involves burying the leaves underground for several months. The result is a distinct flavor profile that sets it apart from other teas.

When visiting Tokushima in Shikoku, don't miss the opportunity to try Awa Bancha and savor its unique taste and rich cultural heritage.

Soy Sauce and Olive Oil (Kagawa)

soy sauce and olive oil

Kagawa, a prefecture in Shikoku, is renowned for its production of soy sauce and olive oil. It is one of Japan's largest soy sauce producers and has the perfect climate for olive oil production.

When visiting Kagawa, don't miss the chance to explore Shodoshima Island, where traditional wooden kioke barrels are used to brew soy sauce. This method creates an organic environment that allows lactic acid bacteria and yeast colonies to thrive, resulting in rich flavors and unique aromas.

Additionally, Kagawa is also known for its udon noodles - it is both the largest producer and consumer of this beloved Japanese staple.

Udon (Kagawa)


Kagawa, known as the 'Udon Prefecture,' is a must-visit destination for udon enthusiasts. With a history of over 1,200 years, Sanuki Udon is Kagawa's specialty noodle that draws visitors from all over Japan.

These thick and springy noodles are served in a soy-based broth and topped with simple ingredients like scallions and daikon radish. Kagawa boasts over 700 udon restaurants, offering a variety of styles and flavors to satisfy every palate.

Whether you prefer your udon hot or cold, spicy or mild, Kagawa's rich culinary heritage promises an unforgettable dining experience. So don't miss the opportunity to indulge in this beloved Japanese comfort food when visiting Shikoku!

Exploring Shikoku's Noodle-Based Cuisine

Discover the rich flavors of Sanuki Udon, Tokushima Ramen, Kochi nabe-yaki ramen, and Yawatahama Champon - a fusion of ramen and stir fry - as we dive into Shikoku's diverse noodle-based cuisine.

Join us on this culinary adventure through Japan's hidden gem!

Sanuki Udon: Kagawa Prefecture's Signature Noodles

Sanuki Udon, the signature noodles of Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, Japan, are a must-try for any food lover. These udon noodles are famous for their unique square shape and chewy texture.

In fact, Kagawa is known as the udon capital of Japan with over 700 udon restaurants spread across the prefecture. When enjoying Sanuki Udon, you can expect to dip the noodles into a flavorful sauce made from dried sardines and citrus accents.

It's a delicious and satisfying dish that showcases the regional noodle specialties of Shikoku, where raw ingredients like flour, buckwheat, and eggs play a starring role in creating these culinary delights.

Tokushima Ramen: A Rich and Satisfying Dish

Tokushima Ramen is a must-try dish when exploring the noodle-based cuisine in Shikoku. This delicious ramen features thin and wavy wheat noodles that are cooked to perfection. What makes it truly special is the variety of soy sauce-based broths that add rich and savory flavors to the dish.

To enhance the taste, Tokushima Ramen is often served with a raw egg on top, which adds a creamy texture. Toppings like bean sprouts and green onion provide additional crunch and freshness.

Foreign travelers in Japan can indulge in this satisfying bowl of ramen and experience the unique flavors of Shikoku's culinary landscape.

Kochi nabe-yaki ramen: Local Take on a World-Famous Dish

Kochi nabe-yaki ramen is a unique twist on the popular dish found all over the world. This local variation can be enjoyed while exploring Shikoku's noodle-based cuisine. It features a rich, flavorful broth that will satisfy any food lover's craving.

Made with fresh ingredients sourced from the region, including locally grown vegetables and succulent slices of pork, this dish truly captures the essence of Kochi Prefecture. Whether you're a ramen enthusiast or simply looking to try something new, Kochi nabe-yaki ramen is an absolute must-try during your culinary journey through Shikoku.

Yawatahama Champon: Fusion of Ramen and Stir Fry

Yawatahama Champon is a unique dish that combines the flavors of ramen and stir fry. This fusion creation is a must-try when exploring Shikoku's noodle-based cuisine. The dish perfectly blends the rich broth and chewy noodles of ramen with the fresh vegetables and savory stir-fried ingredients.

Yawatahama Champon offers foreign travelers in Japan a delicious and satisfying culinary experience that showcases the innovative nature of Shikoku's food culture.

The Experience of Cooking Your Own Noodles in Shikoku

Foreign travelers in Japan can have a truly unique and immersive experience by cooking their own noodles in Shikoku. As part of my culinary journey through this hidden gem, I had the opportunity to try my hand at making traditional noodle dishes like Sanuki Udon and Tokushima Ramen.

The process was both fun and educational, allowing me to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into creating these beloved regional specialties. With English-language guided tours and volunteer guides available for those who don't speak Japanese, even non-English speakers can enjoy this hands-on experience.

Whether you're kneading dough for udon or simmering broth for ramen, the experience of cooking your own noodles in Shikoku is a must-try activity for any food-loving traveler exploring this unique region of Japan's culinary landscape.

Conclusion: Shikoku as Japan's Overlooked Food Paradise

Shikoku may be a hidden gem when it comes to Japanese cuisine, but it certainly shouldn't be overlooked. From the juicy mikan oranges of Ehime to the savory udon noodles of Kagawa, this region offers a diverse and unique culinary experience.

Whether you're a gourmand or simply curious about exploring new flavors, Shikoku is waiting to take you on a delicious journey through Japan's rich culinary landscape. Don't miss out on this food paradise that has been hiding in plain sight!


Shikoku cuisine is known for its focus on fresh, local ingredients and traditional cooking methods. The region's abundant seafood, mountain vegetables, and signature dishes like Sanuki udon set it apart from other Japanese cuisines.

To fully explore the flavors of Shikoku cuisine, consider visiting cities like Takamatsu, where you can try famous Sanuki udon noodles, or Kochi for their renowned Katsuo no Tataki (seared bonito).

While Shikoku cuisine does heavily feature seafood and meat dishes, there are also vegetarian-friendly options available. Look out for vegetable tempura, tofu-based dishes like yudofu (hot tofu), and seasonal vegetable-focused preparations.

Yes! Many cooking classes and culinary workshops are available in Shikoku where visitors can learn to cook traditional dishes from local chefs. These experiences provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and flavors of the region while expanding your culinary skills.