Tokushima prefecture, home to 728,000 people and located on the island of Shikoku in southern Japan is not usually the first place that people rush to when travelling in Japan. Other well-known and easily accessible prefectures tend to be more popular due to their rail and road access.
Tokushima is definitely an off the beaten track destination and we were not surprised to discover that in a 2015 study, Tokushima prefecture was ranked as one of the least visited prefectures by foreign tourists.
After spending two weeks travelling around Tokushima in our camper van and a further 2 months living in a traditional Japanese house in southern Tokushima during the COVID-19 lockdown, we couldn’t help but fall in love with Tokushima’s stunning nature, jaw-dropping valleys, friendly and welcoming people and scrumptious food.
Here we will share our top experiences from Tokushima, one of Japan's hidden gems!
1. Food in Tokushima City
Tokushima city is home to the best food in the region including the famous Tokushima ramen which is an absolute must-try! We spent a day doing our own DIY food tour around Tokushima city and tried all the food which had been recommended to us by our viewers on YouTube!
Below is a list of the foods you can’t miss while in Tokushima City. We have made another detailed blog post about the food in Tokushima which you can find by clicking here.
- Tokushima Ramen
- Waterfall Rice Cake
- Naruto Kintoki Sweet Potato
- Fish Katsu
- Awa Odori Chicken
- Dekomawashi Skewer
Check out the video of our Tokushima food tour below!
2. The Iya Valley
The Iya Valley, a steep mountainous valley, is said to be one of the most secluded and remote areas in Japan. It became home to the Heike clan 900 years ago after they lost the Gempei war (1180-1185) and some descendents of the clan still reside in the area. The Iya Valley is located in Western Tokushima and is only accessible by narrow, winding roads which feel a world away from the busy city life found in other parts of Japan.
It’s easy to spend a few days exploring the area since there is an abundance of hiking, activities and onsen. We recommend having a vehicle to explore the region but there is public transport available for those who don’t drive or have access to a vehicle.
Click here to see a separate blog post we made listing our top things to enjoy while in the Iya Valley.
Check out the video below which we made in The Iya Valley!
3. Todoroki Waterfalls
Located in southern Tokushima, Todoroki waterfalls are a wonderful place to visit if you want to surround yourself with nature and appreciate the beauty of the earth. These crystal clear waterfalls are the largest in Shikoku and the name “todoroki” means “to roar” since the falls sound like they are roaring as the water is falling.
Todoroki Shrine and Ryuou-ji Temple can also be found here in addition to a beautiful uphill path which passes all the waterfalls and provides some fantastic photo opportunities. If you plan your visit in the morning between 10am and 12pm on a sunny day, you might even be lucky enough to see a rainbow appear inside some of the waterfalls.
We made a video at the beautiful Todoroki waterfalls which you can see below!
The southern coast of Tokushima is famous for its surf and is a popular weekend spot for surfers who visit from neighbouring prefectures. Stretching from Mugi in Tokushima to Ikumi in Kochi, this coastline offers some great beaches with world-class waves when the conditions are right.
There are surf shops dotted along this coastline where you can easily arrange a surf lesson (2 hour lesson for ¥5500) or board rental (¥3000 for 1 day). If you have never tried surfing before, this is your perfect opportunity.
5. Naruto Whirlpools
The Naruto whirlpools are an amazing natural phenomenon which you definitely should not miss if you visit Tokushima. The tides swirl at the surface of the water due to the special currents in this narrow strait of water between The Pacific Ocean and The Inland Sea of Japan.
It’s said that one of the three biggest tidal currents in the world exists here and it’s strongest when there is a full moon or new moon. The best way to view the whirlpools is to take a boat which departs based on the tide so you will need to check in advance what times the boats leave. The boats operate everyday and no reservations are required.
6. Udatsu Street
Udatsu street in Wakamachi, is a beautiful old Japanese street dating from the Edo period (1600 – 1868). Although it’s not very long, the photogenic street is lined with traditional Japanese shops and townhouses and is a nice place to spend a few hours walking around. During its peak in the Edo period, Udatsu street was famous for its indigo dying and home to wealthy merchants.
If you would like to try indigo dying yourself, there is still a small shop that offers workshops if you call ahead and book in advance. There is a small roadside station beside Udatsu street which has free parking.
7. Awa Odori Dance
If you search online about Tokushima prefecture, the Awa Odori dance festival is usually the first thing that pops up. This famous street festival is held every year in Tokushima city as part of August Obon week celebrations and attracts around 1.5 million visitors to the region.
For many of you who will be planning to visit Tokushima at other times of the year, there is a fantastic Awa Odori Dance museum in Tokushima City where you can learn more about the dance and they offer dance demonstrations all year long. The museum also has an excellent gift shop which has a wide range of souvenirs from Tokushima prefecture including snacks, indigo-dyed goods and pottery.