Two sleeper Expresses are in service in Japan. One is to Izumo, in the west part of Japan and the other is to Takamatsu, near Seto Inland Sea area. During Cherry Blossom season, we picked the Sunrise Express Seto to visit Naoshima in Kagawa.
Compartment or Sharing Seat?
Single or Twin compartments and sharing seats are available. We booked a twin room with a bunk bed to see outside from the above bed. The sharing seats area seemed comfortable to stay one night. Each space has a partition and you can lay down privately. If you are traveling solo, I would suggest traveling in the sharing seats.
The shower room costs 320 yen for 6 mins including Shampoo and body soap. Prepaid cards are sold near the shower room. It’s better to buy the ticket as early as possible due to limited supply. We didn’t use it this time, because I wasn’t sure if 6 mins was enough to take a shower in the swaying train.
Sunrise View from the train
Sunrise Express Seto departed at 22:00 from Tokyo and arrived at Takamatsu at 7:45 next morning. We could enjoy the view from Seto-Ohashi Bridge, which connects Okayama Prefecture to Kagawa Prefecture, from our compartment.
Udon Noodle in Kagawa
Before taking a ferry to Naoshima, we enjoyed Udon noodles at Ajisho, near Takamatsu Station. Kagawa Prefecture is famous for Udon noodles as it has been a producing district of wheat and soy sauce since a very long time ago. The ordering process was a little bit complicated even for Japanese.
At Ajisho, firstly we ordered the size of the noodles and fried vegetables. Secondly, we paid and received bowls of Udon noodles and poured the soup by ourselves. Each shop has a different taste of soup and stiffness of noodle. My friend was bragging about eating 5 bowls of Udon noodles a day during her Takamatsu trip. We ate Udon noodles at Kinosaki Udon in Naoshima as lunch on the same day. We enjoyed the different taste, but my kid said he didn’t want to eat Udon noodles any more during our 3 day trip.
Ruins of Takamatsu Castle
We had two spare hours before riding a ferry to Naoshima, so we visited the Ruins of Takamatsu Castle near Takamatsu Port. Takamatsu Castle was built 430 years ago by a vassal of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the most famous warriors. The area used to be called Noharano Sho, but it was changed into Takamatsu when the castle was constructed.We enjoyed blooming cherry blossoms there in the early part of April. The entrance fee is 200 yen and the boarding fee for the tour boat is 500 yen per person. These costs are quite reasonable to enjoy beautiful cherry blossoms.
Moat Tour Boat
When we took a tour boat in Takamatsu Castle, we saw the details of the stone wall and Saya Bridge connecting the main area and outer citadel. It sounded practical that the Saya Bridge would have easily burned if the enemy had attacked. The structure was simple and steady.The moat is filled by intaking seawater and fish enter the moat through sluice gates. You can feed red snapper and squid from a tour boat. The water was so clean and I believed warriors used to practice swimming in the moat.
How to visit Naoshima Island
It takes 10 mins on foot from Takamatsu Station to Takamatsu Port to ride a ferry. You can visit several islands in Seto Inland Sea.It takes 60 mins by ferry or 25 mins by high-speed boat from Takamatsu Port to Miyaura Port on Naoshima. You don’t need to make a reservation, but the number of services is limited. The last ferry from Miyaura Port on Naoshima to Takamatsu Port is at 17:00. Keeping to the time schedule for traveling to Naoshima was crucial.
You can reach to Naoshima from Okayama Prefecture, too. It takes 20 mins from Uno Port in Okayama by ferry. From Uno Port to Uno Station, it takes 5 mins on foot. There is a special extra bus running between Uno Station and Okayama Station (60 mins) where the Shinkansen bullet train stops.
From Tokyo, get on the Sunrise Express to Takamatsu and head to Naoshima. Spend a day or two there visiting unique art sites and head back to Uno Port in Okayama and visit Okayama Castle to see the iconic Japanese Tenshukaku Tower.
Local delicacies in Takamatsu
Before we went back to Tokyo, we had a dinner at Maimai Tei, two stations away from Takamatsu Station. Maimai Tei served local delicacies using local fish and vegetables. Dinner course is available from 4,000 yen. The chef and staff were friendly, so I’d like to revisit if I travel by myself.