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Tokushima 徳島

Awa-odori dances, Tokushima (photo by Rosino - CC BY-SA 2.0)
Awa-odori dances, Tokushima

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Tokushima (pop. 268,000) is the capital of Tokushima prefecture, and the first major town coming from Osaka across Awajima-shima Island and the Naruto Channel. It is mostly famous for its traditional Awa-odori dances.

Tokushima is the traditional starting point for Kōbō Daishi's 88-temple circuit around Shikoku.

The city was laid in 1587 by local lord Hachisuka Iemasasa, and was set on the Yoshino river delta, between 280m Mt Bizan and the Kii-suidō Straight.

Although the town is relatively pleasant, with the Tokushima-Chuō-kōen Park where the castle once stood, the main attractions are pretty much limited to the famous local Awa Dances (阿波踊り) and Awa Puppet (阿波人形).

The Awa Dances can be seen during the local matsuri, held between 12 and 15 August each year, or at the Awa Odori Kaikan (阿波踊り会館) throughout the year. 400-year old puppet dramas are still performed at the Awa no Jurobei Yashiki (阿波の銃路米屋敷), while puppet displays can be seen at the Awa Deko Ningyo Kaikan (阿波でこ人形会館) next door.

Traditional crafts renowed in Tokushima are aizome (indigo-dyed cloth) washi (rice paper) and Otani-yaki pottery.

Awa Puppet, Tokushima
Tokushima, from Mount Bizan
Awa Dance, Tokushima

How to get there

No train cross from Kansai to Shikoku via Awaji-shima Island, but express buses from Osaka station (2h30min, ¥3,600) leave frequently.

Alternatively, the JR Limited Express Uzushio from Okayama takes 130 minutes to Tokushima (¥2,760), which is the best way for people coming from Kyushu or Chugoku, or people travelling on the Japan Rail Pass.

Tokushima airport is less than 30 minutes from the city centre by bus, but flights are limited to Tokyo Haneda and Fukuoka.

Courtesy pictures from the Awa Odori Kaikan

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