The long, hot days are ideal for outdoor adventure.
Splashing in the rivers and sitting out under the stars in the evening brings welcome cool.
After several days of sightseeing in Tokyo, Brad and Andrea Mathis wanted to beat the August heat and experience some of the famed natural beauty of Shikoku. So they took the train down to Nishi-Awa in Tokushima to explore the region, combining optional tours with convenient taxi transport.
Brad knew that the Yoshino River has the best white water in Japan, and since he wanted to start his time in Shikoku with a bang, he booked to spend a day rafting. Their taxi took them from JR Oboke Station down to the south-eastern corner of Nishi-Awa, stopping often to take photos whenever Andrea saw a scene she liked. In the evening they picked up some groceries and headed to the rustic guest house booked for them by the rafting company.
- Rafting Guesthouse
Brad and Andrea were up early, excited to be going rafting. They headed to the rafting base for breakfast and a briefing about the day. Soon they were kitted up and floating down the river for their first encounter with wild white water. After some intense rafting, they enjoyed lunch on the riverbank, and were soon back on the river. Brad spent as much time in the water as in the boat. They spent another night in the guest house, where they slept well after their active day.
- Rafting Base
- Rafting Guesthouse
After a late start, the Mathis’ checked out of their guest house and headed to Oboke Gorge to take a pleasure boat down the calm stretch of the river. Andrea took many photos of the dramatic rocks and the fierce-looking cormorants perched on them. They ate lunch Obokekyo Mannaka where they were delighted to be welcomed by the manager dressed as a giant tanuki in keeping with the monster theme of the region. It put them in the mood for their next stop, the Yokai Mansion at the Roadside Station, where they were alternately intrigued and amused by the quirky monsters. They decided to check into their hotel, the Hotel Iya Onsen, early to make the most of the dramatic outdoor hot spring and luxurious dinner.
- Oboke Gorge
- Yokai Mansion
- Onsen Hotel
With a busy day planned, they checked out early. Their taxi took them to the beautiful double vine bridges and waterfall of Oku-Iya. The dark vines of the bridge contrasted with the brilliant green of the forest around. On the way back down the valley, they stopped at Nagoro, the Village of Dolls, where they were moved by the haunting atmosphere. Andrea photographed nearly every one of the dolls! Their next stop was at the remote Nakaue Scenic Overlook. Sitting on the grass, they took in the peaceful view of Ochiai Village arrayed on the dramatic hillside across the valley. Hungry after a full morning, they headed up another hill to a big, old samurai home with a thatched roof. Here they enjoyed a delicious meal of locally-grown, macrobiotic produce, and trout from the Yoshino River. After exploring the historic building, local grandmothers dressed Andrea in a traditional yukata. They were served green tea, and treated to a performance of koto music. That evening they stayed at a hotel overlooking the Yoshino River.
- Double Vine Bridges
- Scenic Overlook
- Samurai Residence
On their last day in Nishi-Awa, the Mathis’ rose early to catch the ‘sea of clouds’, a dramatic natural phenomenon where dense clouds fill the valley. Their taxi driver found the best spot looking down on the dramatic scene. Then, leaving the deep valleys of the Yoshino River’s headwaters, they got on the highway for their final destination, Wakimachi. At the Tourist Center, Brad and Andrea tried their hand at indigo dyeing. The staff showed them how to make the various patterns and then the Mathis’ made their own unique handkerchiefs. They were very pleased with the results! In the Tourist Center, the handmade umbrellas caught their eye. They weren’t cheap, but Andrea reckoned they would make the perfect memento of their trip. Using their new umbrellas as parasols, they explored the fascinating historic streets of Wakimachi.
- Sea of clouds
- Old Streets of Wakimachi