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kyonoki - 京のキー The virtuous island

kyonoki

京のキー The virtuous island

The virtuous island

Built on the delta of the Yoshino-gawa (Shikoku's longest river) and bisected by the Shinmachi-gawa, Tokushima is known across Japan for its summer dance festival (the Awa Odori) and as the -somewhat dubious- Venice of Japan. Named as 'the virtuous island' by Hachisuka Iemasa (a supporter of the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi), he built his castle here in 1586. His clan ruled until the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, when in 1868 it became a prefecture after the razing of the castle and the restoration of the Emperor. Now all that remains of Hachisuka's home are a few stone walls, part of the moat and the Shenshuku-teien (a beautiful, formal garden designated one of the best in Japan). So why Tokushima? I had vague recollections of journeying to the city after catching a glimpse of the whirlpools between Awaji Island and Shikoku, but couldn't remember much of the town itself. Although it is most famous for its bon dance, I have never been so foolhardy to think of visiting in August when the number of visitors swells to well over double the number of residents. Rhod showed an interest, so we booked a short trip with Erina, Dale, Kitty, Misako and Akko. 3 hours from Kyoto, you cannot help but to be awed by the coastal beauty of Shikoku, with its turtle crowded beaches* (arriving to lay their eggs) and spattering of islands and waterways. Shikoku at its heart is as yet untouched, though the cities are beginning to eat it away, and new bridges bring traffic and industry ploughing through. Kyoto this is not. The pace of life is that of any small Japanese city. Mount Bizan looms over the wide boulevards, the dozens of waterways and scores of bridges. While it is not for everyone, I really enjoyed the cheap hotel, relaxed pace and friendly looks (foreigners are few in number). What struck me most about Tokushima was that the city (while not gifted with funds or great numbers of attractions) makes a great effort to entertain. Over just one weekend we saw a free show of Japanese puppet theatre (a speciality of the area), a skateboarding show (points for effort, no points for competence), went to a milk festival (!), strolled along the riverside evening market, and took a relaxing boat trip. All for free. I really loved the laid back air of this backwater city, and while I wouldn't want to live there, I intend to visit again someday.
*Big exaggeration.
  
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Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.

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