Shodoshima Peacock Garden is a bird garden located near Ikeda Harbor on Shodoshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture. As many as about 1,000 peacocks stroll on the ground of the garden. Peacocks, or to say correctly “peafowl,” are the birds in the pheasant family, mainly inhabiting in China and the southeastern Asia. Peafowl are most notable for the male's extravagant display feathers, which are flared out to get the female’s attention.
We rarely see peafowl flying, but in this peacock garden, visitors used to enjoy the Peacock Flying Show, in which a unit of peafowl few away and back in time to the music. It was said that there was no place in the world that could rival in training such a large number of peafowl. However, the show has been discontinued since 2003.
You can also see flamingoes and many other rare birds collected from all over the world. There is also an aquarium offering a panoramic view of fish next to the bird garden. This is a suitable place for a family vacation.
Choshikei Gorge extends along the upstream of the Denpo River running through Shodoshima Island. Shodoshima Skyline (Prefectural Road 27) connects it with Kankakei Gorge, which is counted as one of Japan’s Three Fine Gorges. Shodoshima Island is famous for wild monkeys, and Choshikei Gorge is also a home to hundreds of monkeys. You could visit Choshikei Monkey Park at the foot of Mt. Sentakubo, where the mode of life of wild monkeys can be observed nearby. Some of them are friendly to human beings because of the food handouts.
Following the trail up the mountain, you will pass by Onote-hime Shrine, a tiny shrine, which enshrines Princess Onote, the founder of Shodoshima Island. At the top of the mountain is the observatory, where you can have a calm and peaceful moment, viewing the panoramic landscape of the Seto Inland Sea.
In fall, trees with crimson foliage beautifully add colors to the clear stream of the gorge.
One of the cultural assets remaining on Shodoshima Island is the Noson Kabuki, or Farmers’ Kabuki. Each village used to have its own stage or theatre built in the precinct of its shrine. Of these stages, only two remain intact even today; at Rikyu Hachimangu Shrine in Hitoyama and Kasuga Shrine in Nakayama. Both stages are nationally designated as Important Tangible Folk Cultural Properties.
This theatrical tradition dates back some 300 years. In the Edo period (1603-1868), farmers in Hitoyama Village were suffering from drought. The head of the village, Ota Izaemon, spent as many as three years of time and all his own funds to construct an irrigation pond (Kaerugo-ike Pond). When villagers first saw water came flowing into the ditch beside the shrine, they were so glad that they planned to celebrate this feat by putting Kabuki plays on stage. They built a tentative theater in the shrine precinct and invited a Kabuki troupe. This was the beginning of Kabuki plays in Hitoyama.
Later on, the villagers, taking advantage of their accessibility to the Kansai region, began to perform Kabuki plays themselves by taking in some performing arts from Osaka areas, which led to the development of the rural Kabuki on the island, especially from the Meiji through Showa periods.
Fireflies used to be seen everywhere in the country, but now we only have few opportunities to see this delightful insect due to the drastic changes in our environment. Fireflies, which fly around emitting pale light, are beetles of the family Lampyridae in the order Coleoptera. Although the larva may overwinter for two or three seasons before metamorphosing into adults, it lives for only ten days after reaching adulthood.
The activities to protect and preserve firefly habitats have been done in many areas in Kagawa Prefecture. The water ways dedicated to the protection of fireflies are constructed in some area. Therefore, you can see Genji-botaru (Luciola cruciata) and Heike-botaru (Luciola lateralis) in many places. Some of the famous firefly viewing places include Kandani Shrine in Sakaide City and the area around the Koto River in Takamatsu City. Some towns hold Firefly Festival in June.
Kannonji City in Kagawa Prefecture uniquely has two Holy Sites of Shikoku in one premise; Jin’nein Temple (the 68th) and Kannonji Temple (the 69th). These temples were originally a part of Kotohiki (Harp Play) Hachimangu Shrine founded in 703 by Priest Nissho, who had received a divine message from Hachiman Daimyojin with the tune of Japanese harp heard from a boat on the sea. Jin’nein was also built at this time as an attached temple to the shrine.
In the Daido era (806-809), Kobo Daishi enshrined Amida Buddha、which was Honjibutsu (Buddhist counterpart of the deity of the shrine) and designated the shrine as the 68th of the 88 Holy Sites of Shikoku. Then he carved Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu (Sacred Form of Kannon) and built the formal seven buildings of a temple in the nearby mountain, and named it Kannonji Temple, which was designated as the 69th.
Later in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when temples and shrines were separated according to the Shinbutsu Bunri policy of the national government, Honjibutsu Amida Buddha of Kotohiki Hachimangu Shrine was removed to Nishi-Kondo Hall of Kannonji Temple, which became the main hall of Jin’nein Temple; hereby two temples has been located in the same premise since then. Jin’nein temple is up the stone steps from Kannonji Temple.
Mt. Iinoyama, 422 m above sea level, is a beautiful conical mountain in the border of Marugame City and Sakaide City in Kagawa Prefecture. Being called “Sanuki Fuji,” this fine-shaped mountain has been turned in to verses by many poets including Priest Saigyo and Takahama Kyoshi in the old times and Emperor Showa in the modern times. At the top of the mountain, the stone monument inscribed with the Emperor’s poem is erected.
The way to the mountain top is a good hiking course, where you can enjoy flowers of wisteria, peony and lespedeza in each season. A gigantic stone “Ojyomo no Ashiato (footprint of a legendary giant)” on the way is what to see. From the top of the mountain, you can command a panoramic view of the mountains in Sanuki Plain such as Mt. Nekoyama, Mt. Otakamine and Mt. Oasayama, beyond which the Seto-Ohashi Bridge and the Seto Inland Sea are seen.
Nakatsu Bansho-en is a wonderful daimyo garden located on the beach at the river mouth of the Kanakura River, which runs through Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture. It was built in 1688 by the 2nd lord of the Marugame domain, Kyogoku Takatoyo as a villa called “Nakatsu Bekkan”
There are about 1,500 pine trees including a 600-yea-old large stone pine. With 8 islets respectively named “Sail,” “Goose,” “Snow,” “Rain,” “Mist on a Fine Day,” “Moon,” and “the Evening Glow” set out in the pond, this strolling garden was constructed to emulate the Eight Fine Views in Omi (present-day Shiga Prefecture), which was the hometown of the Kyogoku family.
There are the main house and the tea house by the pond. In the garden are also Marugame Museum, where paintings of the Barbizon School and Japanese-style paintings are exhibited, Porcelain Center of the 13th century pottery works, and Hiina Doll House, where hina-dolls, combs and Japanese hair pins are displayed.
Goshiki-dai Plateau, located in the border of Takamatsu City and Sakaide City in Kagawa Prefecture, is the lava mass composed of five peaks. The five peaks are slightly different in color; hereby they were named Black Peak, Blue Peak, White Peak, Yellow Peak and Red Peak according to the five colors of Buddhism.
Driving on the road running on the hillside, you can enjoy fine views of the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains in Okayama Prefecture. You can also enjoy the seasonal changes in scenery including wild birds and azalea in spring and crimson foliage and orange picking in fall. The walking trails, the grass land and camping sites are provided on the hillside. You can also visit Kagawa Natural Science Museum and The Seto Inland Sea Folk History Museum (consolidated into Kagawa Prefectural Museum in April, 2008).
White Peak located in the western part of the plateau is presumed to have been where the retired emperor Sutoku, who had been defeated in the Hogen Rebellion and exiled to this province, was cremated. Many historic sites concerning the retired emperor remain in the mountain.