World's No.1 Matsu(pine) Bonsai and Hometown. Introduction to the bonsai plantation in Takamatsu Shikoku, Japan.

Kagawa Prefecture is on Japan's smallest main island, Shikoku, which is in the southwestern part of the country and at the heart of the Setonaikai (Seto Inland Sea) National Park, the first of Japan's 29 national parks to be so designated. The Sanuki Plain covers the northern part of Kagawa Prefecture which is densely populated. In the south, the Sanuki mountains stand at the border with Tokushima Prefecture. Sanuki is the old name for Kagawa Prefecture. Kagawa's natural beauty was admired in the 31-syllable ''tanka'' poems in Japan's oldest collection of poetry, the Manyoshu (meaning a collection of 10,000 leaves), compiled in the seventh and eighth centuries.

A one-hour flight from Tokyo takes travelers to Kagawa's prefectural capital Takamatsu. As the main gate to Shikoku, Takamatsu is easily accessible from other parts of Japan through the Seto-Ohashi Bridge (Great Seto Bridge), expressways, Takamatsu airport and JR Takamatsu Station.

The western part of Takamatsu is the biggest bonsai-producing area, occupying about 80 percent of Japan's matsu (pine) bonsai market. Pines grown there on well-drained sandy loam soil have won appreciation for their beautiful forms. They are resistant to root rot and other kinds of damage.

In addition, Kagawa Prefecture is Japan's No. 1 producer of gloves, traditional Japanese ''geta'' clogs made from paulownia, and ''uchiwa'' paper fans. ''Sanuki udon'' is one of Kagawa Prefecture's most famous food products. Sanuki udon noodles are made of simple materials -- wheat flour, salt and water - and served in fish-stock soy sauce soup. Self-service, buffet-style Sanuki udon shops, where guests are able to warm their noodles or add soup by themselves, have proved popular with tourists.

Kagawa Prefecture is also a treasure house of artworks and buildings. Among the notable museums in the prefecture are the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan in Takamatsu, the Marugame Genichiro Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art in Marugame, and the Kagawa Prefectural Higashiyama Kaii Setouchi Art Museum in Sakaide. Naoshima, a small island in the Seto Inland Sea, is also known as an island of art, with the Chichu Art Museum and the Art House Project located there.

Kagawa Prefecture is also the birthplace of a number of great names in Japanese history. Among them is Buddhist monk Kukai (774-835), posthumously called Kobo Daishi, who introduced Tantric Buddhism, one of the mountain Buddhism schools, to Japan about 1,200 years ago. Hiraga Gennai (1729-1779), an Edo Period inventor, and author Kan Kikuchi (1888-1948) were native sons of Kagawa Prefecture.

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