The capital of Kagawa prefecture on the Inland Sea, Takamatsu is the main hub between Shikoku and the outside world. Nonetheless, it maintains a local charm with its neighborhood shops and historic landmarks. The town expanded after Ikoma Chikamasa erected Takamatsu Castle in 1588, the remains of which can still be seen.
When the Tokugawa shoguns assumed power in 1600, they granted the town, castle, and surrounding fiefdom to their relatives, the Matsudaira clan. The family devoted nearly a century to landscaping the six ponds and 13 artificial hillocks that make Ritsurin Park the city’s most famous landmark.
Takamatsu’s location as an entry port for Shikoku made it the setting for such historic battles as the one between the Minamoto and the Taira clans in 1185. The Wax Museum of the Tale of the Heike offers a surprisingly effective recreation of the story’s high points, which are also the subject matter of the classic Noh play Yashima.