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One of the four great islands of Japan, has all area of 7009 square miles, not counting the smaller islands which depend upon it. Its population according to the census of 1909 was 3,199,500. The name Shi-koku signifies "Four Kingdoms", the island having been divided, from ancient times, into the four provinces of: Awa, in the east; Sanuki, in the north-east; Tyo, in the north-west; and Tosa, in the south. In 1868 at the Restoration of Japan the names of these four provinces, as of all others in the empire, were changed, and the island is now divided into the four prefectures of: Tokushima-Ken (formerly Awa), Kagawa-Ken (Sanuki), Ehime-Ken (Tyo), and Kochi-Ken (Tosa). The proportion of inhabitants to the square mile for the island is 176; in the Prefecture of Kagawa it rises to 418, a higher figure than in any other prefecture of Japan. The climate is very temperate and salubrious, and the Province of Tosa is the only one in the empire where two crops of rice are grown every year. The country is very mountainous, rising at some points to 3000 and 4000 feet, and even to 6480 feet at Tshizuchi-Yama in the Prefecture of Ehime, which is the highest point of the island. The population is most dense on the seacoast. The four prefectures have many good schools, primary and secondary, normal schools for both sexes schools of art, of agriculture, and of commerce; but there is no university, the public libraries are very insignificant, and the charitable institutions and social organizations are embryonic where they are not altogether wanting. There are good roads but no railway, although the project of one has been approved by the Government for about ten years past. Various lines of steamers, making the passage daily in six hours or little more, connect all the provinces of Shikoku with the great ports of Kobe and Osaka. Shikoku is the territorial district of the eleventh division of the army; the bulk of the troops are quartered at Marugame and Zentsuji (Kagawa-Ken); but in the three other provincial capitals there is a regiment of about 1500 men. The principal cities are: Tokushima (Toku-shima-Ken), pop. 65,561; Kochi (Kochi-Ken), pop. 39,781; Takamatsu (Kagawa-Ken), pop. 43,489; Matsuyama (Ehime-Ken), pop. 42,338.
The Prefecture-Apostolic of Shi-koku was established by a Decree of Pius X, 28 Feb., 1904, and its administration given to the Spanish Dominicans of the Province of Smo. Rosario de Filipinas. Before this it had been administered by the Missions Etrangeres of Paris, being regarded as part of the Diocese of Osaka, under the jurisdiction of Mgr Jules Chatron, the present bishop. The evangelization of the island began in 1882, when Father M. Plessis, in spite of great difficulties, founded in the city of Kochi the first chapel, under the invocation of the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan. In 1889 and 1898 were founded the residences of Matsuyama and Tokushima. These three stations were all that the Dominicans found when they took charge of the mission in Oct., 1904. Since 1906 there has been a missionary resident at Uwajima, a city of 15,000 inhabitants, in Ehime-Ken; and since 1911 a mission has been established at Takamatsu, which is connected with more than five secondary ports. There is an orphanage for boys, and the confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary is established at Kochi. The official residence of the prefect Apostolic, the Very Rev. José M. Alvarez (appointed 2 Oct., 1904), is the city of Tokushima. The statistics of the mission in 1911 were: Dominican missionaries, 6; Christians, 394; baptisms, 86; communions, 889; confirmations, 17; marriages, 4; interments, 6. The inhabitants of Shi-koku profess various forms of Buddhism; some few profess Shintoism. Both of these creeds are constantly falling into decay, and as it is very difficult to introduce Christianity, religious indifference gains ground among the youth of Japan.
JOSÉ M. ALVAREZ