One liberating thing about having an unlimited rail pass is that when you find yourself at a loose end for half a day, you can look at a map and train timetable and go for a bit of an explore.
We decided this was an opportunity to step off the standard tourist track and visit the island of Shikoku, a place the guide book claimed many visitors overlook. The crossing from Honshu island is a huge bridge which afforded some lovely views of the Inland Sea and its islands—although we only realised this on the way back when we had no seats reserved as on the way out our allocated seats were on the lower deck of a double-decker carriage and we missed out!
Takamatsu had a “small city” feel to it, there were some tall buildings around the station but also enough open space that you felt they had plenty to spare. The main attraction is the Ritsurin-kōen garden, the largest in Japan at 750000 square metres. It was probably one of the best gardens we have seen so far, and also a very relaxing place to spend the afternoon after two busy days jostling with other tourists in Kyoto.
Returning to the station we had a walk by the pleasant harbour watching the sunset behind some of the islands. There was also a funky fountain that cycled through a set of different patterns, including what seemed to be a steam mode. But the views from the train on the return journey were excellent.