The city of Tokushima is known for being one of the main ways that people access the eastern part of the island of Shikoku as it also has its own (small) airport. This part of Shikoku therefore makes a great entry or exit point if you are visiting the island and you can also spend a few days here checking out the local scene at the same time.
Tokushima is known for its wide streets and leafy suburbs, and you can spend time here walking in parks as well as checking out sights like castles and museums. This is also part of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage which is famous on the island of Shikoku, and you can also enjoy some delicious food and drink here as part of your trip.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Tokushima…
1. Attend Awa Odori
Awa Odori is one of the main festivals in Tokushima that takes place every August.
This is the reason that many people come to Tokushima for a visit and it has been held here for more than 400 years.
The festival sees people take to the streets of Tokushima and there are parades and dancing shows which feature a dazzling array of different and complicated dance techniques.
One thing worth noting is that Tokushima is usually very busy at this time of year as the festival is a popular local attraction.
2. Explore the House of Indigo
The House of Indigo is a quirky attraction in the city which is part of an old home which would have been the former residence of an indigo merchant in the days of old.
You can now tour the home and learn the ancient art of indigo dyeing here by making your own piece and learning more about the traditional patterns used on indigo textiles in Shikoku.
3. Visit Awa Odori Kaikan
Awa Odori Kaikan is a museum that is known for its collection of exhibits that tell the story of the Awa Odori Festival.
You can learn more about this colorful dance festival that takes place in Tokushima and there are a range of other oddities thrown in such as a robot show that you can watch as part of your trip here.
There are also performances held throughout the day which feature the dances usually performed as part of the Awa Odori Festival, so this is a good place to visit if you will not be in town at the time of the actual festival itself.
4. Try the local food
On a visit to Tokushima make sure to try the local food, particularly the fruits for which this part of Japan is famous.
These include delicious local sweet strawberries as well as a fruit called sudachi which is similar to a kind of lime.
You can also try other local favorites such as narutokintoki which is a sweet potato grown in the region and used in a number of different dishes.
If you want to try a variety of local sushi then ask for the sugata sushi which is a small fish that has been stuffed with rice to make a kind of inverted sushi snack.
5. Visit Tokushima Modern Art Museum
Tokushima Modern Art Museum is a great place to visit if you love art and want to know more about the local art scene in this part of the country.
The museum has a number of galleries which are dedicated to the contemporary works of a number of local artists and there are also some exhibits by Western artists who are known on the arts scene in Japan.
This is often said to be one of the best small modern art museum in the region so it is well worth stopping by when you are in town.
6. Travel to Mount Bizan
If you want to take a day trip out of Tokushima then consider a visit to Mount Bizan which is on the outskirts of the city.
This mountain is known for its cherry trees which number over 1,500 and burst into bloom in the spring time.
To get to the top of the mountain you can take a ropeway which then affords you amazing views back over the city.
You can then walk back down the mountain to enjoy the scenery in Tokushima which is a relaxing hike that only takes around 20 minutes at most.
7. Visit Tokushima Castle
Tokushima Castle is located close to the wider Chuo Park and is made up of a museum and a large garden.
The castle museum is well worth a visit if you are in the area and you will be able to find out more about the history of the castle and see a range of antiques and exhibits that tell its story.
The garden is also a wonderful attraction in its own right and is said to have been created in the 16th century.
It is modeled on the traditional Japanese style which offers you a piece of calm in the otherwise busy city and you will find soothing streams and charming ponds here.
8. Stock up on handicrafts
If you want a souvenir of your trip to Tokushima then look no further than the range of handicrafts found all over the city.
This part of Shikoku is known for its indigo which is applied to textiles to make intricate patterns, and you will find shops selling items like clothes, cloth and home furnishings all dyed with indigo.
This part of Japan is also known for its otani-yaki pottery and you will find a whole host of shops selling ceramic pieces.
You can also buy handmade paper here which is another famous product made in Tokushima.
9. Watch a performance at Awa Jurobe Yashiki
Awa Jorbe Yashiki would have been the former home of Jurobe who was a famous samurai warrior in the days of old.
Now it has been turned into a puppet theater known as bunraku and is also a museum.
There are puppet performances held here throughout the week and this makes a great stop off if you are traveling with younger guests who will be enthralled by the colorful puppets.
10. Have a drink at Awa Shinmachigawa Brewery
Anyone wanting to try the local brew in Tokushima should head to the Awa Shinmachigawa Brewery which is a famous microbrewery in the region.
Here you will find a range of ales, stouts and bitters and you can learn how the beer is made where while also availing yourself of a few drinks.
They also serve food and have some quirky offers such as a beer tasting menu and some imaginative beer cocktails.
11. Visit the Tokushima Prefectural Museum
The Tokushima Prefectural Museum is one of the best places to come in the city if you want to know more about the history and geology of this part of Shikoku.
The museum will take you back in time and will fill you in on how Tokushima got its start and you can also try a variety of interactive exhibits here that younger visitors are sure to enjoy.
It is also located in the same spot as the Tokushima Modern Art Museum so you can visit both at the same time.
12. Tour Awa Deko Ningyo Kaikan
Awa Deko Ningyo Kaikan is a small museum in Tokushima which is known for its creative and colorful puppets.
These are made by one of the main puppeteers from the Awa Jurobe Yashiki Puppet Theater and this is a great place to come to learn more about how these puppets are made and used.
One thing to note, however, is that the talk given by the puppet master is only in Japanese, but this is still a worthwhile spot to visit even if you don’t speak the language – just to get a glimpse of these fantastic handmade crafts up close.
13. Visit the 88 Temple Pilgrimage
Shikoku is known for its 88 Temple Pilgrimage which, as the name suggests, is a series of eighty-eight temples which are dotted around the island and are a place of pilgrimage for people who visit the region every year.
There are a number of these temples that you can visit as part of a day trip from Tokushima.
These include Jorakuji, Kokubunji, Kan’oji and Idoji temples and you can also travel to neighboring Ryozenji which is the official starting point of the temple pilgrimage.
14. Enjoy the nightlife
It is fair to say that Tokushima is not particularly well known for its swinging nightlife scene but it does have some notable spots if you know where to look.
One of the most famous is called Ingrid’s International which is run by a Filipino expat living in Japan and is known for its delicious drinks and its karaoke nights, so if you fancy trying this local Japanese singing obsession then this makes a good choice.
They also have other themed nights throughout the week as well as live music shows.
15. Try the ‘Self Udon’
‘Self Udon’ is a popular phenomenon in Tokushima and consider of a kind of self service bar where you can try the local noodles.
The premise of ‘Self Udon’ is that you line up at the county and then choose your udon noodles which come in either hot or cold varieties.
You can then choose the kinds of toppings you want and the broth that the udon in served in and one of the most popular places to try these noodles is at Self Udom Yama.