A beautiful view of autumn leaves may be seen from late October to early November in Takanose Valley near Naga in Tokushima Prefecture.
This sight became famous in 1980, when it received the most votes in a poll for the 100 (Best) Tourist Spots in Tokushima. The poll was part of the commemoration of the prefecture’s 100th anniversary.
'Kouyou-no-nishiki' (a tapestry of autumn leaves) became the specialty of this region, along with the Kitou cedar and the Kitou yuzu.
The autumn leaves cover the sharply-sloping sides of the valley, which was formed by the headstreams of the Nakagawa River. This magnificent view stuns all those who see it. The turning maple leaves are especially beautiful, making the valley the best-loved scenic spot in Shikoku.
In other seasons, too, Takanose Valley is attractive for the tender green leaves of spring, the deep green leaves of summer, and the snow-covered landscapes of winter. This makes the area appealing to tourists all year round.
Tenguzuka is a mountain that is 1812m above sea level and is located in Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture. The mountain rises between the Ushinose and the Tengu mountain path (a.k.a. Izari path). It is counted as one of the 88 scenes of Tokushima, selected by the Tokushima Tourist Association and the Tokushima Shimbun Press.
On the slopes of the mountain can be seen panoramic views of azalea, broadleaf forests of 'dakekannba' trees, and coniferous forests of 'urajiromomi' trees, with no large trees blocking the view.
Other views include the mountain ridge called Ushinose, which is close to the top of the mountain and provides one of the best views. From here, a green carpet can be observed as far as the eye can see. Therefore, it is called the 'Japanese garden above the clouds'.
There is also a fine view from the top of the mountain. From here, you can see other 1500-m-high mountains of Shikoku, such as Mount Miune. When the weather is clear, it is possible to see Mount Ishizuchi, the highest mountain in Shikoku, and the Pacific Ocean beyond.
Tenguzuka is a mountain where you can observe many beautiful scenes.
Nishi-Iya Kazurabashi (Vine Bridge) is located at Zentoku, Nishi-Iya village, Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture. It is one of the three major 'strange' bridges in Japan. The bridge is a primitive suspension type using vines like 'shirakuchi' vines.
The origin of this bridge is uncertain: one story has it that the famous priest Kukai (Kobo Taishi) built it to help villagers cross the ravine; another story has it that an easygoing member of the Taira clan constructed the bridge with vines so that they could be cut immediately if an enemy was in pursuit.
The ravine of the Niya river is so deep that it was very difficult to cross between banks. The villagers most likely made this bridge after trying many ideas.
Now, Nishi-Iya Vine Bridge is 45m in length, 2m in width, and suspended 14m above the ravine. It has been designated an National Important Tangible Folkloric Property.
Crossing the bridge is a thrilling experience; even if a single person crosses the bridge, it shakes, while the crossing is simply made of rough logs. The ‘Iya Mill Song’ is a well-known song that describes the bridge.
Mt Washu is located in Shimotsuitanoura, Kurashiki district, Okayama Prefecture. More precisely, it lies at the southern tip of the Kojima peninsula.
It is called Mt 'Washu' because, from the northeast side, it resembles an eagle ('washi') spreading its wings. The mountain is famous for its view of islands and the Seto Ohashi Bridge in the Seto Inland Sea. Even Nanba Tendo, a haiku poet, claims: 'I want the whole mountain as a souvenir.'
At night the Seto Ohashi Bridge is illuminated making a fascinating sight. In clear weather the mountains of Shikoku, on the opposite shore, can be seen from the observatory tower. In 1934 Mt Washi was designated as the Setonaikai National Park and in 2004 it was selected as a special region within the park.
Mt Yataka (654m) is one of Okayama's 100 famous mountains. It is located in the central western part of Okayama Prefecture, near Kawakami and the border with Hiroshima Prefecture.
From Iya-Takai (meaning 'extremely high') at the top of the mountain, are 360°-panoramic views of other mountains on the Kibi Plateau as well as islands in the Seto Inland Sea, which can be enjoyed in each season. It is also possible to see as far as Shikoku.
It is fascinating that the various seasonal changes of nature can be enjoyed here at Mt Yataka: azalea stand out in the verdure of spring; hydrangea in summer; red leaves in autumn. At times, a sea of clouds can be observed from the top of the mountain on early mornings from autumn through winter.
Camping sites and bungalows are available for visitors. Mt Yataka is popular with all kinds of people and is good for beginner climbers.
Naoshima-onna-bunraku is a form of traditional puppetry that has been designated as an intangible cultural asset of Kagawa Prefecture.
It dates back to the Edo period from its beginnings on Naoshima island in Kagawa Prefecture. Naoshima island is in the Seto Inland Sea, near Shikoku, the smallest and least populated of Japan's four main islands. Naoshima is close to Okayama Prefecture on the mainland in Honshu.
During the Edo period, the fiefdom of the lord of Naoshima (of the Takahara clan) was confiscated, falling under direct government control. The new Edo government lifted prohibitions on entertainment for the public. Entertainments thrived, including Kabuki (traditional Japanese theater where performers wear elaborate make-up) and Noh (classical Japanese drama). The Naoshima-onna-bunraku originated from a form of puppetry, at this time, called Ningyo-jyoururi, in which dolls performed to shamisen music. However, during the Meiji period, bunraku puppetry on Naoshima lost popularity and eventually died out.
However, during the Showa period, the art of Bunraku here was revived and restored by three women, and since then only women have performed Bunraku.
While playing the shamisen, three women maneuver one doll or puppet and narrate a story. Bunraku is indeed a tradition of great substance in Japanese culture.
The Ookubo-ji is a temple located in Sanuki-shi, Kagawa Prefecture, and is the eighty-eighth temple of the eighty-eight pilgrimage sites scattered across Shikoku (smallest of the four main islands of Japan).
These eighty-eight pilgrimage sites were established by Kobo-Daishi Kukai (Japanese monk, scholar, poet and artist) as places of enlightenment and training, and also as holy places for people to get rid of their misfortunes and sorrows.
It is said that the number 'eighty-eight' represents the number of worldly desires humans have, and that by navigating the eighty-eight pilgrimage sites, a pilgrim can be liberated from these desires while his true ambitions and hopes can be granted.
The eighty-eighth temple, the Ookubo-ji, is considered to be the final destination of the religious process. At this temple, the deity of the Buddha of Healing (Yakushi-nyorai) is enshrined. Normally, the statue is holding a medicine vase in his right hand, but the statue at this temple is holding a triton. This is because the triton is supposed to strike away people's suffering and distress.
A gorgeous double Tahoutou pagoda stands behind the main temple. Even further behind the site, lies a cave in which Kukai reputedly trained. Pilgrims who cleanse themselves of the eighty-eight desires and finish the whole religious process at this temple, leave their canes here as a tribute and to show that they have safely finished the transformation. The number of canes left at the temple is innumerable.
Ootani ware is made near Ooasa in Naruto, Tokushima prefecture. It is the representative pottery of Shikoku.
Ootani ware was first made in 1780 by the artisan Monzaemon, who introduced the potter’s wheel to this valley as well as the craft of porcelain-making. He produced objects such as charcoal-extinguishers with this method. At that time, pottery was rare in the country of Awa. When the local clan lord came to hear of Monzaemon, he had a kiln constructed in Ootani. While dozens of kilns existed at one time, only eight remain today.
The most famous Ootani ware object is the large 'nerokuro', which is made by two people, one to form the shape and one to turn the pot. This vessel is believed to be the largest of its kind in Japan.
In 2003, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated Ootani ware as a traditional craft.