Finding the heart of beatiful people in TOKUSHIMA
Witness the excellence of true Japanese culture in the Kansai region, the reputed home of ironically Japanese traditions and essence. Take part in a custom-tailored tour to meet world-class artisans in exclusive spaces like never seen before.
Here in Tokushima, you will experience the great outdoors on a journey that takes in the sea, mountains, and rivers of Tokushima, including its powerful whirlpools and the graceful Iya Valley. You will also enjoy local cuisine using ingredients grown in Tokushima and experience the traditional culture that has been passed down over the generations.
Witness the impressive whirlpools around Naruto, known as some of the largest in the world, from the comfort of a cruise ship. The 90-minute cruise takes you out on an adventure on the seas of Uchino through the Horikoshi and Naruto straits which are the gateway from the Japanese mainland to Tokushima Prefecture and Awaji Island. Enjoy the beautiful views and tidal patterns unique to the region. The cruise ship is from one of the top manufacturers in the world, SeaRay, ensuring a safety, comfortable and elegant experience.
When speaking of famous sushi restaurants in Naruto, the long-established Sushi-ichi is without a doubt the first to come to find. Since opening half a century ago, the restaurant has made its name principally using fresh fish and shellfish caught locally in the sea near the city. To ensure the freshest dishes in tune with the season, the ingredients change throughout the year. Some restaurant favorites include sea bream, flounder, and flatfish, mackerel in the spring, and luxurious hamo, daggertooth pike conger, in the summer. For lunch, enjoy the chef’s platter of nigiri sushi. Take a seat at the counter where you can observe the delicate sushi crafted and served before your very eyes.
Hon Aizome Yano Factory
The indigo dyeing at this factory is all natural, using the traditional technique of fermenting naturally cultivated leaves without using any chemicals. Known as “Japan Blue,” this dyeing technique has been handed down by artists in Tokushima Prefecture since antiquity. On this tour, you will visit the Aizome factory and be guided by its master dyer, Ranshu Yano. Not only will you observe the dyeing process, but you will also hear directly from Yano about his personal artistic process and passion for indigo dyeing. After learning the intricacies of this timeless craft, you will also get to experience indigo dyeing for yourself. The item you dye can even be one you already own: handkerchiefs, scarves, wood, and leather products are all eligible. The one-of-a-kind work created under the guidance of the master artist will be a memorable souvenir to treasure.
Hotel Iya Onsen
Relax after an exciting day at your hotel, nestled in the magnificent Iya Valley where the beauty of the largely unexplored valley is sure to take your breath away. The rooms are designed with a refined modern-Japanese aesthetic and offer expansive views of the vast nature right outside the window. Enjoy the views that change with every season, the calming sound of the Tanigawa river, and the sounds of Mother Nature led by bird song from the valley’s inhabitants. Take the cable car to the bottom of the valley to experience the open-air bath where the hot spring water flows straight from the source. This alkaline spring is widely recognized for its skin care benefits, so don’t miss out. Dinner at the hotel is a local line-up using fresh seasonal produce sourced from the valley. Enjoy flavors of Tokushima such as red potatoes, thick shiitake mushrooms, edible wild plants, soba noodles, and Iya’s famous tofu.
After check-out, visit one of Japan’s Three Great Unexplored Regions, “Iya,” which is a valley surrounded by steep mountains rich with untouched nature. The symbol of the valley, Iya-no-kazura Bridge, often called “Vine Bridge”, is a suspension bridge 45 meters in length and only 2 meters wide. 14 meters far below the bridge runs a sparkling blue river. The bridge is made of a vine called Actinidia arguta – hardy kiwi - that is a perennial plant native to Japan. Crossing the bridge is possible for the brave, and the swaying structure makes for a thrilling walk between the two banks. The tour will also visit the meandering river from “Hinoji Valley”, the infamous Peeing Boy statue on top of a cliff, and finally, the National Heritage Area Ochiai Village Observatory. The traditional buildings in the village were built between the Mid-Edo and Meiji periods, and are preserved and protected under the Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings act. This is a sight not to be missed, as it is one of the few places in Japan where you can still see the traditional Japanese mountain village way of life.
Old Kita Family Manor
Have lunch at the Old Kita Family, the largest among all the samurai residences in the Iya area. Here, you will be served local homemade dishes carefully prepared by chef, Reiko Tsuzuki, who also runs soba making workshops. The meal consists of wild plants tempura, homemade soba, onigiri rice balls, deer and wild boar tempura, and lastly, the local favorite called dekomawashi. Dekomawashi is cooked on the hearth on a skewer and consists of potatoes, buckwheat dumplings, Iwa tofu, also known as rock tofu, and round konjac, all seasoned with a miso sauce. During the meal, stay warm near the hearth of the cozy home while Tsuzuki shares the story of the legend of Iya that is handed down generation to generation. She will also sing a local folk song, a great experience of unique local culture.
Traditional Performing Art Inukai Noson Butai Special Cultural Experience
“Ningyo Joruri” is a puppet show that began around the end of the 16th-century, and it is a traditional performing art where puppeteers move to a shamisen accompaniment, joined by a tayu, a high-ranking noh performer who acts as storyteller. Three puppeteers operate each large puppet, and are able to freely move not only the puppet’s limbs, but also their eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and many other body parts. This creates a unique experience where the audience is able to really feel the puppet’s emotions as the story progresses. Tokushima Prefecture is known as the most famous area in Japan for Ningyo Joruri, and there are still some rural outdoor stages in the area. For this experience, you will visit the “Inukai Noson Butai stage” for a private viewing of a special performance, exclusive to this tour. The performances will include a Shinto opening ritual, classic tales of Tokushima characters, and the astonishing “fusuma karakuri”, a stage technique used to change backdrops in an instant. After the performance, you are invited for a behind-the-scenes tour of the historical stage and to meet the puppets!
About this tour
This tour has been planned as part of our efforts to help achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) adopted by the United Nations in 2015. A portion of tour fees paid by all participants will be used to maintain and pass on the tangible and intangible cultural assets of Kansai, the origin of Japanese culture, to the next generation. This aims to create a positive cycle of cultural tourism; we look forward to your participation.