Chichibugahama Beach looks like a Makoto Shinkai anime come to life, and is well worth a detour off the beaten travel path.

Kagawa Prefecture, which occupies the northeastern corner of Japan’s island of Shikoku, isn’t above getting a little silly in its tourism promotions. It’s the prefecture that announced it was making a Pokémon its governor, and it plays wholeheartedly into the rest of the country thinking of it as “the udon prefecture,” going so far as to hold a combination foot race/noodle-eating contest.

But the Kagawa town of Mitoyo is perfectly capable of making us desperately want to visit without utilizing any sort of wacky comedy.

Coastal Mitoyo’s most scenic spot is the one-kilometer (0.6-mile) long Chichibugahama Beach. A popular swimming spot in the summer, it’s also worth checking out in the off-season, because of the breathtaking sunset views.

As the tide goes out, pools of shallow water form at various spots on the beach. On days when low tide and sunset happen at roughly the same time, if there’s no ripple-causing wind and the surface of the water is calm, it acts like a gigantic mirror, seemingly merging sea and sky.

▼ Honestly, with a backdrop like that, we wouldn’t be surprised if those umbrellas are magical and the two friends flew off into outer space right after the picture was taken.

▼ The 30 minutes before and after sunset form the optimum hour for picture-taking.

The closest train station to Chichibugahama is Takuma Station, on the Yosan Line. It’s about a 40-minute ride from the prefectural capital of Takamatsu, and once you get to Takuma there are buses that can take you to the Chichibugahama bus stop, which is just a short walk from the sand.

Granted, Kagawa isn’t on the standard Tokyo-to-Kyoto stretch that most foreign visitors to Japan spend most of their travel time on. But it’s well-worth a detour, especially since while you’re on Shikoku you can also check out the amazing Shimanami Kaido island-hopping bicycling course.

Related: Chichibugahama Beach website
Top image: Mitoyo City Tourism Association press release
Insert images: Mitoyo City Tourism Association press release, Chichibugahama Beach website
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[ Read in Japanese ]