48 hours in Tokushima

Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima

Cruising in Oboke Gorge

I had the opportunity to spend about 48 hours in western Tokushima. From Tokyo's Haneda Airport, it was a 70-minute flight to Tokushima Awaodori Airport. I had a tentative plan with a few must-go places on my list to visit and altered my itinerary depending on the weather. It takes about 90 minutes to drive from the airport to western Tokushima along the expressway. Off the expressway, the local roads in the valley tend to be curvy and winding and are narrow in some areas. While some sightseeing spots may look fairly close on the map, they may take some time to get to, and it would be advisable to allocate extra time for transport.

Winding roads in the valley

I first headed into the Oboke Gorge where I joined a sightseeing cruise along the Yoshino River and fell in love with the view (the sunny weather and blue skies helped as well). The cruise took about 30 minutes, and all passengers had to remove their shoes and wear life jackets. The boatman gave a brief introduction of the gorge and the cruise in Japanese, and I was given an English brochure which outlined the same content. The boat was equipped with heated tables and blankets, and my legs were warm and toasty despite the chilly temperature. The Yoshino River was very clear, allowing us to spot some huge koi fish along the way.

Settling into the boat

Wildlife along the way

The lion shaped rock

Almost at the end of autumn

After the cruise, I made my way to the JR Oboke Station, served by the JR Dosan Line that connects Kagawa and Kochi prefectures. The station is small and quaint, and there is a small mart near the station that sells everything - like a hybrid of supermarket and convenience store. Across from the small Oboke Mart is a restaurant that serves up hearty local dishes.

Oboke Mart of the right, restaurant on the left

Yummy grilled fish

Oboke Station

All aboard the train

Next on my list was Ochiai Village, deep in the Iya Valley. I went to check out the houses built along the valley's steep slopes. Some of the farmhouses date to the mid Edo through early Meiji periods, with rocks brought in from the mountains to construct terraces on the slopes. A number of the houses have been restored and converted into accommodations for those who want to experience living in a traditional Japanese farmhouse (kominka).

Ochiai Village from an observation point

Not far from the Ochiai Village are the vine bridges that the Iya Valley is famous for. The Oku-Iya Kazurabashi bridges are closed from December till March so I headed to the Iya Kazurabashi bridge. I had imagined the rope bridge to be in the middle of nowhere and perhaps required a short hike through the forest to reach it, however it was quite easily accessible by bus or car. I parked my rental car at the nearby car park and walked a couple of minutes to the 45 meter long vine bridge. There is a fee of 550 yen to cross the bridge, and crossing it was both scary and exciting at the same time as the bridge creaks and sways as you move.

The fog hides the valley and makes it seem more mysterious

Iya Kazurabashi bridge

Made it across the creaky bridge

After surviving the walk across, I made my way towards the Manikin Peeing Boy Statue and looked down the dizzying height into the gorge. Even though there wasn't anyone around, I refrained from climbing over the railing to pee and prove my bravery (I don't think it is allowed either).

Peeing statue

Thick fog over the city below

From the peeing boy statue, I made my way down the winding national route to Higashi Miyoshi City, and stopped at Minoda no Fuchi, a campsite along the banks of the Yoshino River with interesting rock formations. Sightseeing boat cruises ply the river between mid March and end November, but unfortunately, operations had closed for the winter when I was there. Instead, I explored the rock formations on foot. The rock formations were similar to the ones I saw along the Oboke sightseeing cruise, and it was nice to be able to inspect them up close.

The train tracks run along the river

The rocks stretch on for a while in front and behind me

A ten minute drive east of Minoda no Fuchi brought me to the 1000 year old camphor tree, Kamo no Okusu, which was appointed as a national natural monument in 1956. The massive tree has a trunk girth of about 13 meters, a height of 25 meters and a canopy of about 40 meters.

Kamo no Okusu

A pair of fox statues at the bottom of the tree

I spent the time before my late afternoon flight back to Tokyo in Mima Town, visiting Sadamitsu and Wakimachi streets (udatsu no machinami). The houses along the two streets have a similar unique architectural feature, a protruding side wall - udatsu - that extends past the roof of the first floor. Originally meant to protect the ends of the roof, these udatsu were also useful for preventing fires from spreading between houses. One of the houses in Wakimachi, the former Yoshida family residence, can be entered for a fee of 510 yen, however there are no English explanations nor brochures available inside. The house was larger than I expected, and there was also a small gallery in the warehouse adjacent to the main building.

Can you spot the protruding side wall (udatsu)?

Udatsu are usually topped by protective charms

A house with udatsu on both sides

Close up of an udatsu

Visitors checking out the udatsu street

Sliding doors (fusuma)

An intense Shogi game was played in the former Yoshida residence

The temple district in Mima is not far from Sadamitsu Udatsu Street and comprises of four temples within walking distance from one another and a couple that are slightly further away. I spent some time in the area, and found it very relaxing visiting the temples and walking along the quiet streets. The temples are free to enter, and a priest at one of the temples even gave me a mini tour of the premises.

Vermillion gate of Anrakuji Temple

Autumn leaves and a bell tower

This temple also has a Noh theater stage

Approach to Ganshoji Temple

In case you thought I did not sleep for 48 hours in Tokushima, I had the great fortune to stay at the 300 year old traditional Japanese farmhouse, Chiiori, located in the Iya Valley along the slopes of the mountain. It was one of the highlights of my trip, and I thought that there was no better place to experience staying in a traditional home than deep in the rural Iya Valley. The restored farmhouse is outfitted with modern luxuries like floor heating, hot showers and wireless internet. There is a full kitchen in the house, and guests are free to prepare their own meals as there are no restaurants nearby. Alternatively, meals can also be catered for (advance reservations required). Getting to Chiiori by car is recommended as there are no buses to the area. It is advisable to arrive before nightfall as the road leading to the property is relatively narrow, scarcely lit and prone to wildlife dashing out unexpectedly.

Arrived at Chiiori just before it got dark

The place is huge

My morning misty view

I watched the rolling fog for longer than I should've

Side profile of Chiiori

Rock wall just below the house

Till we meet again

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List of Posts:
2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report

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