The leaves start to turn and the valleys become a patchwork of colour.
Cooler nights stimulate an appetite for game hotpots and other warming food.
Mr. and Mrs. Lee wanted to experience the autumn colours of Japan in style, and after doing some research online, they concluded that Nishi-Awa in Tokushima was the best place to do it. They decided to use trains and taxis so they could enjoy some sake with their meals whenever they chose.
Mr. Lee had read about the history of the Heike warriors who fled to the remote valleys of Tokushima, and he wanted to see the vine bridges over the river gorges. When they arrived at JR Ōboke Station, Mr. Lee bought some sake for the evening at the liquour shop nearby. Then they took a taxi to see the first bridge. Mrs. Lee was a bit nervous on the swaying suspension bridge with only narrow wooden slats under foot, but her husband gallantly squired her across. On the other side, they bought a tasty, hot dekomawashi snack and went to see the Biwa Falls nearby. When they’d explored the area fully, they headed to Ochiai Village early to enjoy the evening in their kominka accommodation.
That evening, a local lady made a dinner of boar hotpot and other good things which they enjoyed with the sake.
- Vine Bridge
- Ochiai Village
The Lees woke up to a fantastic scene of mist blanketing the valley below them, with the morning sun slanting down the slopes.After a late start, they enjoyed a breakfast of venison sausages and other good things in another restored cottage a short walk from theirs.
After breakfast, they took a stroll around Ochiai Village, marvelling at the old stones walls and the thatched houses with their vegetable patches. With just a few words of Japanese they’d learned before they came, they managed to make friends with several villagers. When the time came, they were sorry to leave the village. But they got in a taxi and headed off for a soba lunch with cold beer.
Their next stop was Nagoro, the Village of Dolls. They spent nearly an hour wandering the village and ‘meeting’ all the inhabitants, who were busy engaged in their tasks. Then their taxi took them to the double vine bridges of Oku-Iya, where they were entranced by the view of the bridges and the waterfall among the autumn foliage.
Since they planned to take a long onsen bath at their hotel in Ōboke, they headed there early. As a special treat, they’d booked the private bath so they could enjoy the scenery by the river together, followed by an extraordinary dinner with more courses than they could count.
- Ochiai Village
- Village of Dolls
- Onsen Hotel
In the morning, Mr. and Mrs. Lee had another dip in the onsen before the day’s journey. A taxi took them to JR Ōboke Station where they got the train along the Yoshino River to Sadamitsu. They got another taxi to the mountain village of Sarukai. As they drove up the winding road, an amazing vista into the valley opened up, dotted with picturesque farmhouses. The Lees enjoyed the clear air as they strolled among the fields and buildings of the village.
Another village they wanted to see was Fuchina, located on a rounded spur on the valley side. Mr. and Mrs. Lee were impressed by the difference from the other villages they’d visited. As evening fell, the taxi took them to their hotel in Sadamitsu.
On their last day in Nishi-Awa, the Lees visited the street of old merchant’s houses in Wakimachi. Since it was their first time to see a whole street of traditional Japanese buildings, they went into every open building – the museums, shops and cafés. They were particularly charmed by the Odeon Theatre with its revolving stage and cinema memorabilia.
From Sadamitsu Station, a train took them back to Kansai for their departure.
- Old Streets of Wakimachi
- Old Streets of Sadamitsu