Tokushima city is the capital of Tokushima Prefecture. It occupies the delta where the Yoshino River enters the eastern inlet of the Seto Inland Sea. This castle town prospered from trade in indigo dye and timber carried down the Yoshino River from the interior of Shikoku. During the feudal period, the city was the seat of the Hachisuka clan. In July 1945, Tokushima suffered intensive bombing, so most of the city’s buildings date from after that.
The wide mouth of the Yoshino River divides the city. Long bridges join its northern and southern parts. Branches of the river run off in all directions, creating a pleasant atmosphere of a waterside city. Tokushima Marché market is held on the last Sunday of every month beside the river, about five minutes’ walk south of Tokushima station. The stalls offer many good things to eat. From Hyotanjima, you can take a cruise in an open-top boat through the delta. When the tide is high, going under the bridges is quite a thrill.
Tokushima is home to one of Shikoku’s biggest traditional festivals, the Awa Odori, where male and female dancers in troupes snake their way through the streets. The unique geography of small delta islands joined by bridges explains the origin of this equally unique dance form in Japan. The festival is held in August, but at the Awa Odori Hall, you can see the dance performed live and learn the basic steps in a very enjoyable participatory atmosphere. There’s also a museum covering the history of the dance.
The Awa Odori Hall doubles as the cable car station to Mt. Bizan, an imposing mountain in the middle of the city. You can also access Bizan on foot or by car. From the top there’s a panoramic view of the entire Tokushima Plain, and on clear days, you can see Awaji Island, Hyogo and Wakayama Prefecture. A Burmese pagoda serves as a memorial to the dead of WWII.
Puppet theatre has been popular in western Japan for hundreds of years, and at the Awa Jurobe Yashiki theatre you can enjoy performances every day and exhibits about the vivacious puppets. The theatre was the residence of Bando Jurobe, a samurai who allowed himself to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit to preserve the good name of his master. His story inspired a puppet drama that was first performed in 1768.
Tokushima Castle was dismantled in the Meiji period, but the Omotegoten Garden remains in the grounds. There’s a dry landscape garden which represents rivers and mountains without using water, and another garden with a hillock and pond. There are many of the blue stones for which Tokushima is known, including a bridge made of a huge monolith. The Tokushima Castle Museum in the grounds has interesting exhibits. You can climb up the castle hill by three routes of varying steepness, and watch the tide rise and fall in the moat.
The pilgrimage of 88 Buddhist temples on Shikoku starts in Tokushima, and temples 13 to 17 are within easy walking distance of each other. This is a good opportunity to get a taste of the pilgrim’s experience. The Okunoin (inner sanctuary) of No. 13 is located at a height of 310 m. Hiking up to this temple gives you a feeling for the challenges of tackling the entire pilgrimage, as well as its rewards. The view over Tokushima is spectacular, and the Ryumon grotto has an atmosphere you won’t soon forget.
Tokushima city even has a beach. Omiko Beach is located 20 minutes by car from central Tokushima. The wide expanse of beach between headlands, with its sand and pebble beach backed by green parkland, is a great place to enjoy the atmosphere of the Seto Inland Sea. The park where the beach is located has a camp site, a youth hostel, and BBQ facilities.
Name in Japanese: 徳島市
Address: 1 Chome-61 Terashimahonchonishi, Tokushima, Tokushima 770-0831