Uwajima is a pretty town on the island of Shikoku in Japan and makes a great place to visit if you are keen to explore this island at your leisure. Uwajima is not one of the most famous spots in Shikoku, but it does have a few noteworthy attractions and events.
Another reason why people visit Uwajima is that it part of the famous 88 Temple Pilgrimage trail around the island of Shikoku and you will find some dainty temples here as well as other oddities like a sex museum which is part of a wider fertility shrine.
All in all, if you are looking for a slice of traditional Japan on the island of Shikoku then Uwajima is a good place to start.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Uwajima…
1. Visit Taga Shrine
Taga Shrine is one of the smaller shrines in Uwajima but also one of the most interesting.
This is actually a shrine that is used by those who follow the Shinto faith and people come here to pray for fertility and to overcome fertility issues.
With that in mind, you will find a number of statues here in the shape of phalluses and there is also a signature phallus fashioned from a log that is used as part of the fertility festival here.
2. Explore the Sex Museum
Also part of Taga Shrine is the Sex Museum in Uwajima which is also known as Dekoboko Shindo.
The museum is located over three floors and you will find a number of galleries here which tell the story of sex through the ages and there are different areas dedicated to both male and female sexuality.
One thing to keep in mind is that children are not allowed in the museum for obvious reasons so it is best to skip a visit here if you are traveling with younger guests.
3. Sample the izakaya
Izakaya is the Japanese for a traditional style pub or cafe and if you want to sample the delights of Uwajima then this is a great place to do it.
One of the most famous izakayas in the region is Houmi-tei which has been in business for some 70 years and which serves up local fare that uses ingredients sourced from around Shikoku.
They also serve several tasting menus to give you a flavor of some of the local favorites in one sitting.
5. Admire Uwajima Castle
Uwajima Castle is one of the most famous attractions in the city and is located in the center of Uwajima.
The castle is also something of a surprise in the city as the majority of castles in the country are models as the originals were destroyed at various points throughout history.
Uwajima Castle however bucks the trend as this is the original structure and it dates from 1665, making it well worth a visit.
6. Try the local food
Uwajima is known for its various fish dishes and you should make sure you try a range of these when you are in town.
One of the most famous is jyakoten which is a kind of fish cake, although bear in mind that this usually also contains fish bones.
Another local favorite is tameshi which is a red snapper that is served with rice and cooked in an earthenware bowl.
If you are looking for something more upscale then try the taisoumen which is also red snapper that is served with noodles that are made to resemble waves.
7. Get a fortune
If you decide to visit the famous Taga Shrine when you are in town then make sure that you take the time to get a special kind of fortune.
This is known as the Yin-Yang Harmony Fortune and it is meant to tell you about your sexual compatibility and preferences.
One of the signature parts of the fortune is that you will also be presented with a clay model that you can keep which illustrates the best sexual position for your character and future, so this is a quirky souvenir of Uwajima that is not to be missed when you are in town.
You will also be told your sumo wrestling rank as part of the reading.
8. Visit the Date Museum
The Date Museum in Uwajima tells the story of the Date family who would have been the rulers of Uwajima in the days of old.
The family ruled in this part of Japan for over 250 years throughout the Tokugawa period and you can see some of their personal effects here such as a selection of weaponry as well as clothes, ceramics and other memorabilia.
If you want to know more about the history and culture of this area then this is not to be missed.
9. Sample the sea bream
Uwajima is known for its succulent seafood and one of the best known fish dishes in the region uses sea bream.
One of the most famous places to eat this fish, known locally as tai, is at Wabisuke and here you can try a set meal which comes with a variety of dishes that use this delicious fish.
You can also get sea bream all over town and one of the delights o Uwajima is that most of the dishes are small, so you can sample a number of plates in one sitting.
10. Shop for pearls
If you are looking for some gifts or souvenirs of your trip to Uwajima then think about buying some gorgeous pearls.
This part of Japan is known for its pearl production and you can come to shops such as Shinju Kaikan where you can look around and learn how the pearls are harvested in the Uwajima region.
As well as actual pearls, you can also buy other souvenirs such as a kind of ‘pearl candy’ made in the region.
11. Stroll around Shiroyama-koen
Shiroyama-koen is one of the main parks in Uwajima and makes a nice place to visit if you want to get out of the city center.
The park is an excellent spot if you want to come for an afternoon stroll and search for some peace and quiet in the center of the city.
One thing to keep in mind is that the park is rather steep in parts and you will have to walk over some rolling hills here which offer you a good workout as well as some great views back over the city.
12. Try the local pastries
Uwajima is primarily known for its fish dishes and seafood, but if you are in town then make sure that you also try some of the other local delights such as the breads and pastries.
One of the most famous bakeries in town is known as Boulangerie Riz and, as the name suggest, the breads here are a little different as they are made with a mix of rice flour and white flour which gives them a light and fluffy quality and you can watch as the bakers prepare the freshly made treats behind a counter.
They also serve a breakfast menu here so this is a good place to come in the morning.
13. Visit the 88 Temple Pilgrimage
Shikoku is known for its 88 Temple Pilgrimage route which stretches for some 1,200 kilometers around the island.
As the name suggests, there are some eighty-eight temples dotted along the route and a number of these are said to have been founded by Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi) who was a famous Japanese intellectual and a monk.
Two of the most famous temples on the route that are close to Uwajima are Ryukoji and Butsumokuji, so if you are interested in visiting part of the trail then these make a good day trip out of the city.
14. Rent a bicycle
One of the best ways to get around Uwajima is by renting a bicycle, and you can do so from the main Tourist Information Center in town.
They also have maps of the various cycling routes through Uwajima and out into the wider countryside, and as there is not a huge amount of traffic on the roads here, this makes the perfect mode of transport if you want to see the sights and also get in a work out at the same time.