A to Wa of Japan: Week 21

It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again! Last week’s post was about things beginning with て (te) and we looked at Tebasaki (手羽先). This week we are looking at things beginning with と (to). A big thank you to everyone who joined in with suggestions this week:

Zooming Japan suggested Tokushima (徳島 / a city and prefecture in Shikoku), Tokyo (東京 / the capital of Japan), Tottori (鳥取 / a city and prefecture in the Chugoku region), Toyama (富山 / a city and prefecture in the Chubu region), Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康 / the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate), and tonkatsu (豚カツ / breaded, deep fried pork cutlet); my Mum suggested Totoro (トトロ / the main character from the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbour Totoro / となりのトトロ); Japan Australia suggested Todaiji (東大寺 / a temple in Nara famous for its daibutsu), Tohoku (東北 / the north-eastern region of Japan), Toba (鳥羽 / a city in Mie Prefecture), and Toyama, previously suggested by Zooming Japan; lovelycomplex22 also suggested Totoro; Jay Dee suggested Tokeiji (東慶寺 / a temple in Kamakura), Towadako (十和田湖 / the largest crater lake on Honshu), tofu (豆腐 / bean curd), Toudai (東大 / an abbreviation for the University of Tokyo – Tokyo Daigaku / 東京大学), togarashi (唐辛子 / chili pepper), tonjiru (とんじる / pork soup), and tobi (鳶 / kite – a bird of prey); and UK Seikatsu suggested Tokyo, tofu, Toriyama Akira (鳥山明 / creator of manga/anime Dragon Ball), Tokyo Daigaku, Toyama no Kin-san (遠山の金さん / a famous Jidai-geki, period drama), Todaiji, Tojo Hideki (東条英機 / Prime Minister and general of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II), Totoro, and tonkotsu ramen (豚骨 or トンコツラーメン / noodle soup containing pork bones).

I’m spoilt for choice this week, and was very tempted to write about Totoro, but in the end I decided to do some more virtual travelling and write about…

Tokushima Prefecture (徳島県)

Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku is not a place I have been to yet – in fact, I haven’t been to Shikoku at all. While I was in Japan I guess I just never thought much about Shikoku (or Kyushu), but now I’m wishing I had found the time to explore more. Tokushima Prefecture is on the east side of Shikoku, and the capital is Tokushima City.

Map of Japan showing Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku

Map of Japan showing Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku

(Image source)

Tokushima is not a place which would be high on many people’s travel itineraries, but that’s not to say there’s nothing to do there. One of the most well-known things about Tokushima is the Awa Odori (阿波おどり), or ‘Awa Dance Festival’, which takes place in mid-August, during Obon. The name ‘Awa Odori’ comes from ‘Awa’ which used to be the name of Tokushima Prefecture and ‘odori’ which means ‘to dance’. The performers, ranging from amateurs to professionals, young to old, wear traditional costumes and some play instruments as they go. It looks like a lot of fun!

Awa Dance Festival ©JNTO

Awa Dance Festival ©JNTO

Awa Dance Festival ©Tokushima Prefecture/©JNTO

Awa Dance Festival ©Tokushima Prefecture/©JNTO

Although the festival would be spectacular to see, I’m sure it would also get very crowded. So, if crowds aren’t your thing, another option in Tokushima is to visit the Iya Valley (祖谷渓). The valley is becoming more popular with tourists these days, and is known for its old vine bridges which can still be used to cross the river. However, Iya Valley used to be a remote area and home to defeated warriors would retreat there. Alex Kerr, author of Lost Japan (a book which I’ve somehow managed to miss off my reading list!) is known to have fallen in love with the Iya Valley so much that he bought and restored an old farmhouse there. The farmhouse, called Chiiori, is a non-profit project to introduce people to traditional Japanese life.

Iya Valley

Vine bridge – Iya Valley

(Image source)

If you do visit the Iya Valley, there’s one iconic statue to look out for – the peeing boy! Japan Guide says about the statue:

At the edge of this dizzying, 200 meter high cliff stands the statue of a boy posed as if he were peeing off the ledge down to the valley bellow. The statue is located at a beautiful scenic spot a few steps from The Iya Onsen Hotel, where local folklore says passing travelers would climb out to pee off as a testament to their bravery. A railing discourages visitors from attempting this dangerous act today.

Manikin Peeing Boy Statue

Manikin Peeing Boy Statue

(Image source)

The other highlight of Tokushima Prefecture is Naruto (鳴門) – a city famous for its whirlpools, the Naruto no Uzushio (鳴門の渦潮). The whirlpools can be seen in the Strait of Naruto underneath the Onaruto Bridge connecting Tokushima to Awaji Island. The whirlpools have diameters of up to 20 metres at the spring tide!

Uzushio Whirlpools ©JNTO

Uzushio Whirlpools ©JNTO

Interestingly, ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川 広重) depicted the Naruto whirlpools in one of his woodblock prints from the ‘Famous Views of the 60 Provinces’ series – ‘Rough Sea at Naruto in Awa Province’:

Hiroshige - Famous Views of the 60 Provinces - 55. Rough Sea at Naruto in Awa Province

Hiroshige – Famous Views of the 60 Provinces – 55. Rough Sea at Naruto in Awa Province

(Image source)

As well as everything mentioned above, Tokushima Prefecture has lots of other things to offer: beautiful scenery, mountains, hiking, hot springs, museums, and much, much more! It may be a bit off the beaten path, but if you have time to spend in Japan it would definitely be worth paying Tokushima a visit!

For more information about Tokushima Prefecture, visit JNTO, Japan Guide or the Tokushima Prefectural Government website.

Tokushima city view from Mount Bizan

Tokushima city view from Mount Bizan

(Image source)

☆★☆

Next week we’ll start with な (na), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with な. Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese words.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!  (*^_^)v

9 thoughts on “A to Wa of Japan: Week 21

  1. Thanks so much for taking my suggestion!
    I like Tokushima Prefecture, but my highlight was without a doubt Naruto!
    For anybody interested, nearby is the “German House”. It’s a memorial museum because a long time ago there were German war prisoners, but the Japanese person in command was really nice and so the German people and the Japanese locals were able to have a lot of cultural exchange and became friends. Some stayed in contact even after the German prisoners were released and went back home.
    The German House is in Bando, not too far from the #1 and #2 temples of the Shikoku Temple Pilgrimage! 😉

    Suggestions for next week:
    Nagasaki (which is one of my favorite places in Japan, not only the city, but also the prefecture)
    Naoshima (a small island in the Seto Inland Sea, famous for art)
    Nakatsu (a small city in Oita Prefectue with a nice castle)
    Natsume Soseki (a famous novelist)

    There’s so much more, but I’ll leave some for the others! 😉
    It’ll be tough to decide this time!! ^^

    Like

  2. Great to see a post on Shikoku which doesn’t get enough coverage in my book. A few suggestions for next week include:

    Natto (fermented soybeans)
    Naruto (a popular Japanese manga series)
    Nagano (known as the Roof of Japan)
    Nagahama (a castle town in Shiga Prefecture)
    Nara (Japan’s first permanent capital)

    Like

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