Raiders of the lost park
Bordered by rugged mountain cliffs and dangerous whirlpools, traveling through Tokushima feels like an Indiana Jones adventure.
South of Hiroshima, on a secluded eastern corner of Shikoku, lies Tokushima Prefecture, the starting point of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. In the past, its high valleys and deep gorges were a haven to those brave enough to cross the sea from Honshu.
Today, visitors to Tokushima can cross winding vine suspension bridges and ride a modern cable car to a hot spring in the mountains. There’s rafting, ropeways, and even surfing. It’s also home to one of the largest traditional dance festivals in Japan.
Awa Odori Festival
Tokushima City is Tokushima’s capital. It’s spread out across the mountains and down to the Anan Coast. From the city’s center, Mount Bizan stretches far into the sky. You can take a ropeway to its summit from the 5th floor of the Awa Odori Kaikan, a museum dedicated to Tokushima’s famous Awa Odori dance festival. The event is held annually over four days in August.
The Anan Coast in southern Shikoku is known for sea turtles. Surfers covet it for having some of Japan’s best waves around Kainan, Kaifu, and Shishikui. Quiet beaches and quaint villages provide just the right balance of privacy and community.
From Tokushima City, take a bus or train to see the Naruto Whirlpools—huge swirling currents moving up to 20 kilometers per hour! Visitors can view the whirlpools up close via an exciting boat cruise, or from directly above the water through the Uzu no Michi glass panel walkway.
What to eat in Tokushima
Next to the “wife” bridge is the Wild Monkey Bridge, where you can ride a suspended wooden cart attached to the vines. To cross the river, you must pull yourself across using a rope just like people did in feudal Japan.
Of course, you’ll need somewhere to rest your weary head after all those outdoor adventures. Sitting atop a steep slope, the Iya Onsen Hotel has glorious views overlooking the valley from traditional tatami rooms.
To get to their hot spring baths, you’ll need to take a daring cable car down into the riverside baths. Just next to the hotel is the famous Peeing Boy of Iya Gorge. The small statue represents “innocent courage” and stands on the edge of a 200m precipice.
Plan your trip to Tokushima with the links below!