For many visitors, Takamatsu is simply a trip to Ritsurin Garden. Although the garden is certainly worth a visit, Takamatsu's historical value extends well beyond the garden.
Yashima is the area in which one of the battles of the Genpei War took place. This war was fought between the Taira and Minamoto clans over who would gain control of the nation. In the battle at Yashima, the Minamoto, led by the famous Minamoto no Yoshitsune, defeated the Taira, causing them to retreat to Dan-no-Ura (Yamaguchi prefecture), where they were they were finally killed off, making the Minamoto the victors and leading Japan into the Kamakura Period. The famous Tales of Heike is a legend written about the Genpei Wars.
During the battle that took place here, the Taira had placed a fan atop one of their ships and dared the Minamoto to shoot it off. Nasu no Yoichi then rode on horseback into the water and successfully shot the fan with his bow. This is cited as one of Japan's most impressive and famous archery feats.
For those interested in the historical aspects of the area and the Genpei Wars, there are many sites around Yashima that you can visit to learn more about the Battle of Yashima.
Throughout the entire island of Shikoku are 88 different temples that are part of one long pilgrimage route. The numbers of each temple represent the order in which they should be visited however, they can be visited in any order. It is said that those who visit them in reverse order will have good luck.
The temples are believed to have been visited by the Monk Kukai. Although the temples atop Mount Koya are not part of the 88 temples, many people visit Mount Koya as a part of their pilgrimage, because it is where the monk moved to.
Traditionally, pilgrims (called henro) walk the entire route dressed in special white garbs with a diary for notes and reflections and they say sutras at each temple. People still do this today, and for those who want a truly unique spiritual experience, this is an option to consider.
Today buses, trains, cycling, and driving are popular ways of getting to each temple. There are also special tours designed to take pilgrims to each of the 88 temples. These pilgrims still wear the garbs and recite the sutras. They also have guides that give them extra information about each temple when they arrive, and their clothing (and I believe a booklet also) are stamped at each temple with the seal of that temple to prove they were there.
Takamatsu contains 5 of the 88 temples:
80 Kokubunji Temple
82. Negoroji Temple
83. Ichinomiyaji Temple
84. Yashima Temple
85. Yakuriji Temple
It definitely sounds like an interesting experience for those who will be in Japan long enough to visit every temple.
(I am visiting special shrines, actually, but my travels are a bit different than this. Perhaps I will make tips about it when I have finished)
A view of Takamatsu City from atop Yashima Island (which I should mention is no longer an island. Historically it was an island, but today it is a peninsula).