A Complete Guide to Tokushima Prefecture! All the information you need including popular tourist spots, hidden gems, gourmet food and souvenirs.
Tokushima is a tourist destination with many spots where you can get close to and feel the beauty of nature, such as Naruto Whirlpool and Iya Valley, one of the three most unexplored destinations in Japan. There are also many delicious foods such as Tokushima's famous brand-name chicken "Awaodori" and local cuisine that has been handed down from generation to generation. In this article, we will introduce some of the best places that you should keep in mind if you are planning a visit to Tokushima.
- Basic information of Tokushima Prefecture
- Six top-rated tourist attractions in Tokushima
- Five Top Things to Try in Tokushima
- Four Recommended Restaurants in Tokushima
- Three recommended shopping spots in Tokushima
- Recommended accommodation in Tokushima
- Three must-buy souvenirs in Tokushima
- Famous festivals and events in Tokushima
Basic information of Tokushima Prefecture
Located on the east side of Shikoku, about 80% of the area is mountainous. It is blessed with abundant nature and is famous for its many scenic spots such as Iya Valley, which is known as one of Japan's three most unexplored destinations. It is easily accessible from cities such as Osaka and Kobe and has a warm climate for sightseeing.
Six top-rated tourist attractions in Tokushima
One of the top-rated tourist attractions in Tokushima is the famous "whirlpools" of Naruto Strait, but there are many other places to visit where you can experience beautiful nature such as mountains and rivers. Also there is a museum that boasts one of the largest permanent exhibition spaces in Japan. Here, we will introduce six carefully selected tourist attractions in Tokushima.
1. Otsuka Museum of Art
Otsuka Museum of Art,which is called the ”Ceramic Board Masterpiece Museum”,boasts one of the largest permanent exhibition spaces in Japan (total floor space of 29,412㎡). More than 1,000 Western masterpieces, from carefully selected ancient murals to contemporary paintings owned by more than 190 museums from 26 countries around the world, are reproduced in the same size as the original works using special technology. Visitors can enjoy masterpieces from all around the world.
2. Uzunomichi (Whirlpool Walkway)
“Uzunomichi (Whirlpool Walkway)" is a 450-meter-long walkway above the sea, directly beneath the Onaruto Bridge. The whirling tidal currents that occur in the Naruto Strait, one of the world's fastest whirlpools, can be viewed from above through glass floors about 45 meters above the sea. The whirlpools appear at different times every day, so it is recommended to check the "Peak Viewing Schedule" on the official website in advance.
3. Whirlpool Sightseeing Boat
The difference of tide between the Seto Inland Sea and Kii Channel creates the Naruto Whirlpool, which is one of the three greatest whirlpools in the world. The cruise ship will give you the perfect look at it. It will be a really fun 25 minutes to watch whirlpools.
4. Oku-Iya Niju Kazurabashi Bridge
Deep beyond the Iya Vine Bridge in Oboke Gorge, one of the most unexplored destinations in Japan, at an altitude of about 1,000 meters above sea level, there is a double suspension bridge made of Kudzu vine (arrowroot vine), such as Shirakuchi kazura (Actinidia arguta), called "Oku-Iya Niju Kazurabashi Bridge".
You can admire the beautiful scenery and sense of seclusion while crossing the thrilling suspension bridge. Don't miss out on the man-powered ropeway "Yaen (wild monkey)" right next to the suspension bridge.
5. Oboke Koboke
“Oboke Koboke” is an eight-kilometer canyon created by the rapids of the Yoshino River that passed through the Shikoku Mountains over 200 million years. There are many unique experiences to enjoy here, including the "Oboke Canyon Sightseeing Boat" that takes you through the canyon’s beauty up close, and rafting to enjoy the thrill of splashing through the spectacular scenery.
6. Honke Matsuura Brewery
Honke Matsuura Brewery, established in Tokushima Prefecture in 1804, has been well known for the Narutotai sake brand and liqueur Sudachi-shu which is sake mixed with local citrus sudachi. The brewery is located by the old Muya Kaido, which flourished as a commercial road during the Edo period (1603-1867), and has been producing sake for centuries by using local high-quality water and rice.
You can take a tour inside the brewery with an appointment.
Five Top Things to Try in Tokushima
No trip to Tokushima is complete without an itinerary of out-of-the-box experiences. Here are 5 of the highest rated experiences to try.
1. Fun on the Raft
The Uchinoumi seawaters are located in the northeast area of Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture. Hugged between Shimada and Oge Islands, the calm waters were once a popular locale for pearl farmers. Today, these rafting rigs can be used as a special place to enjoy fishing and BBQing above the sea.
2. Photo Taking Tour
The city of Naruto is a destination set against the Naruto Strait and packed with lush nature escapes just begging to be photographed. On this tour you’ll enjoy a chance to capture the most picturesque spots in the area while shadowing pro photographer, Kenji Miyatake.
３. Onaruto Bridge Whirlpool Walk
Onaruto bridge stretches across the Naruto Straight that sits between the northeast tip of Shikoku, Minamiawaji in Hyogo Prefecture and Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture. Built as a road-rail bridge, it’s complete with road traffic on the upper deck and an exclusive staff-only path on the side. With the Onaruto Bridge Whirlpool Walk tour, guests are met with the rare chance to walk the access route unavailable to pedestrians while enjoying an exclusive look at the whirlpools from above.
4. Cycling through the Lotus Fields
The city of Naruto sits inside Tokushima Prefecture, one of the nation’s largest producers of lotus root, and as such is home to several different lotus fields. On this cycling tour you’ll follow a guide through an area that even the guidebooks haven’t covered for a cozy cycled across the country roads used everyday by the locals who live there. Get ready to discover gorgeous scenery like you’ve never seen.
5. Awa Odori Appreciation Experience
"Awa Odori" is one of the three most popular Bon dances in Japan. During four days from August 12th to the 15th every year, the dance features about 100 thousand dancers and attracts an audience of 1.2 million. The roots of this dance go back to about 400 years from now. The dance always reflects the times and is still loved by the people of Tokushima.
At the Awa Odori Festival Hall (Awa Odori Kaikan), you can enjoy watching the dance and learning Awa Odori's history any time of the year.
Four Recommended Restaurants in Tokushima
In Tokushima, there are many delicious foods such as the well-known brand-name chicken "Awa Odori", the famous local gourmet "Tokushima Ramen", and local dishes that have been handed down from generation to generation! Here we will introduce some of the best restaurants to enjoy these delicious cuisines.
1. Restaurant Arashi
Around lunchtime, many local patrons head to this seafood restaurant. Aiming for “Lively taste, Crafted taste, Fresh taste,” they cook fresh fish delivered by contracted fishermen and offer a variety of dishes at reasonable prices.
2. Renmaru Cafe
Naruto City, Tokushima is known as one of the three great producers of lotus roots in Japan. The white crisp texture is the hallmark of Naruto lotus roots. Enjoy them in different arrangements at Renmaru Cafe.
3. Ramen Inotani Main Store
Ramen Inotani Main Store is a famous restaurant that serves “Tokushima Ramen", a local dish of Tokushima Prefecture. The soy sauce pork bone soup has a deep flavor made from dried sardines (niboshi) and other ingredients. The noodles are homemade and have an excellent chewy texture. We recommended raw egg topping, which is an unusual ramen topping in ordinary ramen. When you eat the egg with the noodles, the taste is irresistible.
Ikko is a restaurant where you can enjoy “Awaodori”, a brand of chicken produced in Tokushima Prefecture, prepared in various ways. The signature dish is "Honetsuki Awaodori”. The chicken with a bone is seasoned with a secret sauce, then slowly grilled in Ikko's special oven that reaches 400 degrees Celsius. The large chicken is visually appealing and tastes juicy and delicious.
Three recommended shopping spots in Tokushima
After visiting the various sightseeing spots, it is time to enjoy shopping. There are many commercial facilities that can be easily reached by bus from Tokushima Station, so let's take a look at three recommended shopping spots.
1. AEON MALL Tokushima
AEON MALL Tokushima is a shopping mall that houses a variety of specialty stores such as fashion and general merchandise, as well as amusement facilities. There is also a large food court with a variety of popular restaurants, so you can enjoy a delicious meal while shopping. It also houses one of the largest movie theaters in Tokushima Prefecture, equipped with the latest audio and visual systems. There is also a bowling alley in the adjacent building, so you can have fun all day.
2. YouMe Town Tokushima
It is the largest shopping facility in Tokushima Prefecture, with about 160 stores including popular fashion retailers, general stores, and other special services. Popular restaurants are available in the restaurant area on the first floor and the food court on the second floor. You can enjoy a variety of cuisines from Japanese, Western, Chinese as well as fast food. There are also multiple playground facilities and restrooms for families with young children.
3. Fuji Grand Kitajima
Fuji Grand Kitajima is a shopping center with businesses offering a variety of services, such as supermarkets, fashion, general merchandise, popular fast food, and toys. On the third floor, there is a cinema complex (Cinema Sunshine Kitajima) where you can enjoy spectacular movie screenings.
Recommended Accomodation in Tokushima
Tokushima has many superb scenic spots. Naruto City, which is located along the sea, has many hotels that offer breathtaking ocean views. Iya Valley Hot Springs, one of the three most secluded hot springs in Japan, has some of the best ryokans where you can spend a relaxing time surrounded by nature. Let's take a look at some of the best places to stay.
1. Aoawo Naruto Resort
This hotel overlooks the Onaruto Bridge that spans Naruto Strait. All guest rooms have an ocean view, and there are 15 room types including Western-style and Japanese-style to choose from. The hotel is also famous for its natural hot springs, known as the "hot spring of beauty," and for its local cuisine with an abundance of seasonal ingredients.
2. Hotel Kazurabashi Iya Valley Hot Springs
There are many popular ryokans in the vicinity of Iya Valley Hot Springs, one of the three most secluded hot springs in Japan. One of the most popular is Hotel Kazurabashi Iya Valley Hot Springs. From the "open-air sky bath," which can be accessed by taking the cable car up the mountain, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the great nature of Iya Valley. Enjoy the local cuisine dinner of Iya Valley around a sunken hearth.
Address: 33-1 Nishiiyayamamurazentoku, Miyoshi City, Tokushima
Three must-buy souvenirs in Tokushima
After enjoying the spectacular natural sceneries in Tokushima, it's time to buy some souvenirs. Tokushima is full of traditional sweets and specialties that have been loved by many people through the generations. Here are three of the most recommended souvenirs.
1. Tani Chikuwa Store "Take (bamboo) Chikuwa”
“Take (bamboo) Chikuwa” is the soul food of Tokushima Prefecture. It is made by wrapping fish paste around natural bamboo and grilling it to perfection. You can bite into it with gusto as if it were meat on the bone. It is also delicious when lightly roasted over a fire and sprinkled with Sudachi citrus juice or dipped in Sudachi soy sauce.
2. "Saoshika" from Saoshika Main Store
One of Tokushima's famous confectionery is "Saoshika". A sweet made by kneading and steaming Wasanbon sugar, a specialty of Tokushima, with yam, red beans, and other ingredients using the traditional recipe. Characterized by the elegant sweetness of Wasanbon sugar and its chunky texture, it is an indispensable sweet for tea ceremonies in Tokushima.
3. Hallelujah Sweets Kitchen "Kincho Manju”
Since its birth in 1937, “Kincho Manju” has been a long-time favorite as a Tokushima souvenir. The bittersweet chocolate-flavored skin and the white bean paste inside are a delicious harmony and the manju is shaped like a Tanuki raccoon’s stomach. The taste is appreciated by people of all ages, making it the perfect souvenir.
Famous festivals and events in Tokushima!
Visiting traditional festivals will help you get to know Tokushima better. Here are some of the best festivals and events in Tokushima. If your schedule allows, we recommend you see one of them!
1. Awa Odori dance
The Awa Odori dance, originating in Tokushima Prefecture, has a history of over 400 years and is now performed all over Japan.
The Awa Odori Festival in Tokushima City, the home of the dance, is held from August 12 to 15 every year and attracts more than one million tourists from Japan and abroad. During this period, the whole city is covered by Awa Odori dancers!
2. Otani Pottery Festival
This is a pottery market held jointly by the kilns of Otani-yaki, a traditional craft of Tokushima. Otani-yaki is characterized by its simplicity and strength, utilizing the texture of the clay and a metallic sheen. It is famous for its large size ceramics, but recently, mugs, vases, and other household items as well as unique works of art have been attracting attention. The festival is held every year on the second Saturday and Sunday in November.
3. Shikoku Chrysanthemum Exhibition
The Shikoku Chrysanthemum Exhibition has a proud 80-year history. The works of chrysanthemum lovers all over Yoshinogawa City are exhibited here. It takes place at the Event Square in Yoshinogawa City Hall, where large chrysanthemum flowers decorate the square. Exhibitors compete for prizes based on the quality and balance of their flowers.
We have introduced a collection of recommended tourist attractions, gourmet food, accommodation, and souvenirs that you should experience when visiting Tokushima. It is convenient to use public transportation such as trains and buses available in Tokushima to visit the tourist attractions. You can also use cabs to get around more efficiently. If you have time, you can also visit Kagawa Prefecture, Takamatsu, Awaji Island, and other attractive tourist spots in vicinity. A wonderful experience will surely be waiting for you.