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

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2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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List of Posts:
2024/02/05 - teamLab Borderless newly opened in central Tokyo
2023/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2023
2023/11/20 - Japan's new tallest building opens in Tokyo
2023/10/25 - Japan Mobility Show 2023
2023/10/02 - Toranomon Hills completed in central Tokyo
2023/06/14 - Harry Potter Studio Tour Tokyo Opens June 16, 2023
2023/03/02 - Haruka airport trains to stop at Osaka Station from March 18
2021/05/05 - Suggested 5-day itinerary for the Kansai Wide Area Pass
2020/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2020
2020/06/26 - Ariake Garden, a newly opened shopping complex in Tokyo
2020/06/26 - New shopping complex With Harajuku opens in Harajuku
2020/06/26 - Tokyo Mizumachi, a new pedestrian route near Asakusa
2020/06/25 - Travel restarting: Tokyo
2019/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2019
2019/12/03 - Shopping at Shibuya Fukuras and Parco
2019/10/23 - 46th Tokyo Motor Show
2019/03/20 - Moominvalley Park opens near Tokyo
2018/12/31 - 2018 Travel Highlights
2018/10/25 - Business as usual at Tsukiji Outer Market
2018/08/19 - Hello Kitty Shinkansen
2018/05/16 - Cruising Tokyo's waterways
2018/04/17 - Wisteria blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park
2018/01/18 - Shinanomachi, the Backcountry of Nagano

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2017/10/25 - The 45th Tokyo Motor Show
2017/10/11 - Dipping into the three onsen towns of Yamanaka, Yamashiro and Katayamazu
2017/07/24 - Remote Riches in Toyama
2017/07/03 - Spiritual Chichibu
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

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
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
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