The Prefectures of Japan

Kagawa Prefecture

Culture History

Japan’s smallest prefecture by area, Kagawa in Shikoku is bursting with natural attractions, boasts one of Japan’s most famous gardens, and is home to savory Sanuki udon.

Kagawa is Japan’s smallest prefecture by size. Set on the northeastern end of Shikoku, it borders the Seto Inland Sea and includes many offshore islands. The inland is dominated by the Sanuki Mountains along the southern border with Tokushima Prefecture, with flat, arid land toward the coast. The Seto Ōhashi bridge connects Kagawa to the main island of Honshū.

Kagawa Prefecture at a Glance

  • Established in 1888 (formerly Sanuki province)
  • Capital: Takamatsu
  • Population: 950,000 (as of Oct. 2020)
  • Area: 1,877 km2


Large portions of Kagawa fall within the borders of the sprawling Setonaikai National Park, including popular sightseeing spots like the islands of Shōdoshima and Naoshima and the rugged Goshikidai Plateau. Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu is one of Japan’s most famous landscape gardens. The prefecture is renowned among foodies as the home of Sanuki udon.

The stone torii of Takaya Shrine overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. (© Pixta)
The stone torii of Takaya Shrine overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. (© Pixta)

A number of leading firms in sectors like automotive parts, electrical and construction machinery, and shipbuilding are located in Kagawa. Advanced fields such as metal processing and molds, as well as chemicals and other primary industrial materials, account for a sizable portion of the prefecture’s economic output. Kagawa is Japan’s top producer of olives. Nori and Japanese amberjack are farmed in the nutrient-rich waters of the Inland Sea.

An olive orchard on the island of Shōdoshima. (© Pixta)
An olive orchard on the island of Shōdoshima. (© Pixta)

Famous Figures

  • Kūkai (774–835): Buddhist priest, also known as Kōbō Daishi. Founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism.
  • Kikuchi Kan (1888–1948): Novelist, playwright, and founder of major publisher Bungei Shunjū. Established the Akutagawa Prize and Naoki Prize, two of Japan’s most prestigious literary awards.
  • Miyatake Tōyō (1895–1979): Japanese-American photographer known for documenting the internment of Japanese Americans at Manzanar in California during World War II.

(Originally published in English. Banner photo: The Seto Inland Sea seen from Naoshima. © Pixta.)

For the complete list of the country’s 47 prefectures, see “The Prefectures of Japan.”

prefectures Seto Inland Sea Kagawa