Facing the Seto Inland Sea on Shikoku’s north coast, Takamatsu is the island’s main gateway. Under the Tokugawa shoguns, the town enjoyed a long and prosperous peace, during which time the renowned Ritsurin Koen was created on the grounds of the 16th century castle. Considered one of Japan’s finest ‘strolling gardens’, the park is laid out among stands of black pines, chestnut trees and shimmering lotus ponds spanned by pretty red-lacquer bridges – like a scene from an antique brush and ink painting come to life.

Tours invariably culminate with a tea ceremony in one of the Riturin’s exquisite wooden teahuts, or ‘chashitsu’– our favourite is Edo-period ‘Chrysanthemum Moon Pavilion’, which juts onto an emerald-green pond framed by flowering trees and low, wooded hills.

 

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