Tokushima is the south-eastern prefecture in Shikoku, which is off the beaten path for international tourists. Tokushima stole my heart with its nature and its culture that is native to the area.
Tokushima is off the beaten path and definitely one of my favourite parts of Japan, so it was a piece of cake coming up with the top 4 things to do in Tokushima (prefecture). Here they are, in the order that I saw them on two different road trips. I admit that numbers two and three are tied for my favourite – I would happily do those things a third time! 😀
1) Iya Kazura Bashi
Before you make it to Tokushima city, stop in Miyoshi, a small, rural town with a vine suspension bridge that is 45m long, 2m wide, and 14m above the stream. Crossing this bridge is scary and thrilling, hence why I called this bridge Japan’s Scariest, Most Thrilling Bridge for the Photo Friday post I did about it. It’s definitely worth paying ¥550 to cross it, and the view is great! 😀 Take your time when you’re crossing this bridge, and wear GOOD shoes!
Click here for access info.
2) Awa Odori Kaikan
Tokushima, which was called Awa until the Meiji period, is famous for its traditional dance (odori), called Awa Odori. I first saw it as a pre-schooler on my favourite beta tape of Japanese concerts, so seeing it for real was so exciting.
The Awa Odori Kaikan is a museum all about the dance and its history. It dates back over 400 years, and it’s always danced for the annual Awa Matsuri (festival) in the hottest, most disgusting month of the year, August. Since going to see the actual festival is extremely difficult not only because of the heat, but because of insane amount of people making getting accommodations and tickets nearly impossible, going to this museum is actually the better option than trying to go to the festival itself.
The best thing about the museum is the free show that you can see at the museum. Of course, it’s only in Japanese, but they explain and demonstrate all the moves for both men and women. You’ll enjoy the wonderful dancing! 😀
At the end of the show, you get to try it too! It looks easy, but it’s tiring. Just get the rhythm down and follow/copy the one of the pros. 😀 If you’re really good, you’ll get a white lei and get a cool bandanna as prize, but if you’re super good, you’ll get the one and only red lei. 😀
I was lucky both times I went; the first time, I got a white lei, and the second time when I took my grandma and my mom, I got the red one! 😀
If the weather is good, make sure you go take the ropeway to the top of Mt. Bizan while you’re there. The kaikan is at the base, and you can access the ropeway from the museum building. However, don’t make it your top priority. Don’t get the wrong, the views are great, but the museum and show experience and the other places in this post are what make Tokushima extra special.
3) Take a boat tour in Naruto to see the whirlpools
Naruto is about an hour away by car from Tokushima city, but it’s definitely worth the trip to take a boat tour and see the natural whirlpools. You’ll see so many of them, and even if you’re in the back outside the whole time, it’s still hard to get good shots. The whirlpools disappear and travel, and it can be hard to keep your camera level in a moving boat. The boat goes really close to the whirlpools, but it’s still hard to get a complete shot. On the other hand, you’ll never forget seeing them because they’re just phenomenal, and you won’t regret taking the ride. 😀
Before you make it to the whirlpools, enjoy the amazing views. Try to catch whirlpools, or at least some of the the many beautiful different shades of blue from the whirlpools with Onaruto Bridge, which connects Tokushima (prefecture) with Awajishima (Awaji Island). ↓
Even you don’t land up getting great shots, the souvenir postcard that comes with your ticket has an amazing shot of a whirlpools with the boat in the background.
4) Awa Jurobe Yashiki – A Traditional Japanese Puppet Museum and Theatre
Traditional Japanese puppetry isn’t nearly as visible as other parts of Japanese history and culture, and this is the only puppet museum and/or theatre I’ve heard of while living in Japan. For only ¥410, you get to see the museum and a free performance. Make sure that if you go on a weekday, you go in the morning since the only performance starts at 11am. On weekends and national holidays, there’s an extra performance in the afternoon. Check out my post about Awa Jurobe Yashiki for more details.
I hope you get to see and experience the BEST of Tokushima some day! It is off the beaten path not only because it’s in Shikoku, but because at the moment, there is no Shinkansen access. Tokushima is one of Japan’s jewels, and I hope that this post has inspired you to not only get off the beaten path, but to see Tokushima. Your Japan Rail pass will cover the train ride! 😀