When you arrive in Tokushima, and you look in any direction, be it north, east, south or west, you’re likely to see mountains. 80% of this beautiful Japanese prefecture comprises mountainous districts. Amidst the glory of the mountains, flowing towards the north, is the Yoshino River, regarded as one of the greatest rivers in Japan.
Remember the picture-perfect town you saw in the cartoon series Heidi, Girl of the Alps? Get a feel of it in reality at this prefecture. It is one of those places that make one ponder over questions such as “What is life?”
Reasons to visit Tokushima
Sweet, sweet potatoes! Called Naruto Kintoki, the potatoes from this region are highly prized all around the world for their unmatched taste, texture, and flavour. Why can’t other areas match it? Well, the soil in this region forms a crust at the surface, enabling the potatoes to grow without any influence. Tip: Enjoy it plain to get the real taste of the flavour. Naruto Kintoki also makes its way into Shochu (Japanese liquor).
So we’re certainly not advocating that you make a trip here solely for the above, although foodies may argue otherwise. Tokushima goes beyond its potato prowess and offers a lot to travellers from around the world. If you’re visiting anytime soon, make it in time for the Awa Odori dance held between 12th and 15th August, which is the prefecture’s biggest event held every year. It witnesses an annual inflow of 1.3 million visitors!
Things to do in Tokushima
You will be forgiven for raising an eyebrow while looking at this magnificent, enormous mountain that resembles, well, an eyebrow! Even its literal translation is eyebrow mountain. It was featured in a national movie based on a book by famous Japanese author, actor, and singer, Sada Masashi.
This landmark, although a must visit, is relatively untouched by tourist activity and there is still only a lone restaurant on top of the mountain, since many years. Several shrines and temples adorn the mountain slopes. Visit them all and get your peace mojo on!
2.Tokushima Prefectural Awajurobe Yashiki
Japan has a rich history of puppetry, and if this art form has ever fascinated you, this museum is worth a detailed exploration. Apart from the several puppets on display, there are live performances by musicians and puppeteers. The Awa Ningyo Joruri (Tokushima-based Japanese puppet show) is a performance characterized by the fusion of 3 creative facets – joruri (dramatic recitation) of gidayu-bushi (ballad drama music); futozao-shamisen (thick-necked and three-stringed instrument); and sannin-zukai (three puppeteers).
You will also get to learn the entire history of puppetry and the staff is highly welcoming. Photography is permitted, and you can even interact with puppeteers after the show to get a glimpse of what a day in their life looks like. A trip here is that rare mix of education and entertainment.
3. Chuo Park
The ruins of the old Tokushima castle can be seen on the grounds of this park. But if you’re wondering what this castle looked like in its former glory, you can, thanks to Japan’s limitless talent of recreation. The Tokushima Castle Museum housed on the Chuo Park grounds has a recreated, model replica of the original castle and the attention to detail in this replication is stunning.
The Omote Goten Garden is situated adjacent to the castle museum and comprises a dry garden and a pond garden. Both are designated National Scenic Sites. Other notable museums worth exploring in the vicinity are Aizumicho Historical Museum, and Literature and Calligraphy Museum.
4. Shinmachi-gawa River
The calming, placid waters of this river will make you feel that time, as we know it, has come to a grinding halt. This place is worth visiting simply for the peace it exudes in its surroundings. Take a walk, and feel the stress of life melting away. The river flows through the middle of Tokushima City and can be seen through several tourist spots around. Popular event venues such as Aibahama Park and Mizugiwai Park are situated along the riverside.
If you’d rather not walk and be transported instead, get on to the river cruise, which provides a fantastic view of the city and passes through several bridges. It is economically priced (200 yen) and lasts for around 30 minutes.
5. Tokushima Zoo
Stop over at the Tokushima Zoo and get up-close with over 400 animals of 80 species, all comfortable and well looked after in natural surroundings. The grounds are massively spacious and divided into temperate, tropical, savannah, and arctic zones. There is also an amusement park in the premises, including a petting zoo for children, where the little ones can touch and play with guinea pigs and sheep.
Animal feeding events are held on weekends and national holidays, so try and get a glimpse of how well the staff look after the animals here. The admission fee is rather modest at 510 yen and children are allowed in for free. Do note that the zoo remains closed on Mondays and between December 29 and January 1.
Interesting facts about Tokushima
- National parks form 9% of Tokushima Prefecture
- The prefecture is known for its fertile land, and a lot of produce from here is regularly shipped to Mainland Japan.
- The citrus fruit Sudachi is grown in abundance and is a speciality of this prefecture.
- Tokushima is home to Iya Valley, one of Japan’s Top 3 hidden valley.
- Naruto, a city that is part of the prefecture, is known for its intense, swirling whirlpools particularly during spring tides.
Staying in Tokushima
Visiting a prefecture as beautiful as Tokushima warrants a stay at a local home to get the real feel of this region. To make that happen, HomeAway has partnered with the Destination Management Organization (DMO) to refurnish old historic houses and convert them to holiday homes, which can be rented on HomeAway. Check out one of these options.
1.Traditional Japanese style guesthouse in Mima Shi
This simple and elegant, 100 year-old traditional home at Udatsu old street is surrounded by the most spectacular natural views. Sip some traditional tea in the garden outside while watching the sunset. Sacrifice some sleep to soak in the sunrise as well. No better place to watch it than in the land of the rising sun! It accommodates 4 guests, and is perfect for a small group or family.
Average price per night: SGD 62
2. Cozy, private Japanese style house
Located in a quiet neighbourhood, this beautiful, freshly remodelled home is fully furnished with retro-style, Western-Japanese furniture. The station is just a little over a kilometre away, so it’s perfect for when you’re exhausted after a day of sightseeing and want to get to the comfort of a bed. It comes with all the essentials you’d expect from a great HomeAway.
Average price per night: SGD 81
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