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  • TOKYO
  • TOKUSHIMA

SCENIC BEAUTY

The Hama-rikyu Gardens are one of the most famous gardens in Tokyo, a quiet oasis surrounded by tower buildings. After enjoying beautiful landscaped garden, visit to the Kazurabashi Bridge of Iya in Tokushima prefecture, suspension bridge over a gorge used to for dairy services. The scenery of majestic nature you will see while you across this bridge is simply magnificent. This journey will allow you to thoroughly enjoy the pleasures of scenery beauty.

Official Tokyo Travel Guide
http://www.gotokyo.org/en/

Local government official website
https://discovertokushima.net/en

TRAVELER

  • Traveled : December 2017 Ian Livingston
    Reside in USA
  • Traveled : December 2017 Nicholas Rich
    Reside in Kanagawa
    Home country: USA

Los Angeles International Airport

ANA105 Examine the directions from your country

  • Ian Livingston

    The ANA's aircraft I flew aboard has comfortable and unusually wide seats. Entertainment options included various movies, and the food tasted really good. The flight was punctual and staffed by a large and memorably welcoming team.

Haneda Airportmore

The airport serves as an air gateway for Tokyo. The passenger terminal is filled with various commercial facilities, and visitors can command a panoramic view of Tokyo Bay from the rooftop observation deck, so that every one, even those who are not flying, can enjoy the terminal.

Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Day1

TOKYO

Hama-rikyu Gardensmore

RECOMMENDED DESTINATIONS

Featuring a tidal pond with water drawn from Tokyo Bay and a wild duck preserve, Hama-rikyu Gardens is the garden of the Tokugawa Shogunate family, and functioned as the branch castle of the Edo Castle during the Edo era. It's said that the garden's current form was completed during the reign of the 11th-generation Shogun, Ienari. After the Meiji Restoration, it became the detached palace of the imperial family, and was renamed Hama-rikyu.

  • Ian Livingston

    In the heart of the Tokyo Metropolis, yet you’ll find the beautiful natural world. The backdrop of tall office buildings and hotels stands as contrast to the otherwise insulating calm of these gardens, which beside Tokyo Bay shelter twisting pines, seasonally blooming brilliant flowers, and an over-water tea house.

  • Nicholas Rich

    The Hama-Rikyu Gardens give visitors a scenic glimpse of natural beauty in the middle of one of Tokyo's bustling neighborhoods. Whether its the colorful leaves of autumn, the blooming cherry blossoms of spring, peonies and more, there's a reason to visit each season.

Take the water bus
Hamarikyu-mae

Water Bus
(Tokyo Cruise Ship)
more

Enjoy a roughly 60-minute cruise along the Sumida River, taking in the sights and sounds. Listen to the audio along the way to learn and see how Tokyo's harbor has been transformed over the years.

  • Ian Livingston

    The water bus is both an activity in itself and an alternative to the sometimes-congested Tokyo metro system. Tickets were cheap and easy to obtain with the assistance of an on-hand staff member. At each stop, a different staff member did a round with the English details scratched on a sign. I found it a great way to establish early bearings in Tokyo.

  • Nicholas Rich

    The water bus has many routes along the Sumida river, but the route we took was getting to the heart of Asakusa. No matter which tour you take passengers can get a waterside view of the historic buildings in the area, such as the buildings of the Asahi Breweries headquarters, and Tokyo Sky Tree.

About 5 minutes on foot after getting off the water bus at Asakusa / Asakusa Station

  • Ian Livingston

    Aoi Marushin is 70-years old and an icon. The tempura (tendon) is served in just the right portions, and fried in just the right (light) sesame oil blend. The main (two shrimp, squid, a white fish, sweet potato, green pepper) was delicious, and served with a pile of salt and crushed wasabi in a bowl in the middle of the table. It’s walking distance from the wonders of the Asakusa temple complex.

    It's not too much to say that the most guidebooks list the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple—one of the Tokyo’s oldests—and its auxiliary grounds. The temple and adjacent five-story pagoda glow red and assuring against the cityscape, which made the approach—via matching red gates, giant lanterns and a runway of snack stalls and innumerable fortune slips tied to wires with people's wishes—a real trip. On the side streets that splinter off from the grounds are tiny shops slinging melon bread, stand-up sushi, menchi katsu, sweet potato ice cream…

  • Nicholas Rich

    The Aoi-Marushin's set menu offered an excellent selection of crispy, juicy tempura. The traditional décor, especially in the room where visitors can sit on the floor, is sure to give them an historic impression.

    Asakusa is one of the most historic areas of Tokyo, with an incredibly famous temple (Sensoji) heralded by its iconic Kaminarimon gate, that attracts thousands of visitors. The surrounding neighborhood has a lot of delicious-looking restuarants, as well as many venues for traditional Japanese performance arts. You could spend a whole day exploring and still find more to discover.

Toei Asakusa Line
Asakusa → Oshiage
About 4 minutes / 180 yen

TOKYO SKYTREEmore

TOKYO SKYTREE was listed in the Guinness World Records™ as the tallest tower in the world, standing at a height of 634 m. The Tembo Deck, at an elevation of 350 m, offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Kanto area, and even distant views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day. Tembo Galleria, a further 100 m up at an elevation of 450 m, offers even more expansive 360-degree panoramic views of the Kanto area. Moreover, the tower is lit up beautifully at night, alternating every day between "Iki," a soft blue light, and "Miyabi," a royal purple light. Special lights are also implemented for every season of the year. At the foot of the tower is Tokyo Solamachi®, a commercial facility packed with a wide selection of over 300 shops and restaurants, as well as a planetarium and an aquarium, offering a full day of enjoyment for visitors. The tower is a landmark that Tokyo boasts to the world.

  • Ian Livingston

    I loved SKYTREE. The dining options are near overwhelmingly good, and there’s a planetarium, an aquarium around and a two-part space/robot exhibit where you can operate a mini moon rover, and more. From SKYTREE observation floors did the full scale of the Tokyo metropolis come into view. Without this perspective, you’d be missing something.

    Of the many places to eat good food at SkyTree, Tamahide Ichino have the densest backstory. The original Tamahide Chino opened in 1760! I’m so happy to have the delicious oyakodon—chicken, egg and sliced scallions in a sweet soy sauce over rice—which as I understand it this place pioneered.

  • Nicholas Rich

    At a towering 634 meters (about 2080 feet), Tokyo Skytree is a symbol of Japanese architecture and ingenuity. The observation deck at 450 meters has an unparelled view of the city (and Mt. Fuji, on a clear day) that simply can't be matched. Plus, the night time illumination makes it a spectacle to behold even from afar.

    Tamahide-Ichino was a small restaurant in the Skytree Town complex, perfect for a dinner. The course menu offered a variety of delectable chicken dishes, the most popular of which was an enormous "Oyako" (chicken and egg) rice bowl, a fluffy omelette on top of rice with tender chicken mixed in. The thick, rich pudding for dessert was more like a cheesecake, and was absolutely delicious.

About 4 minutes

Richmond Hotel Premier Tokyo Oshiage

  • Ian Livingston

    The Richmond Hotel Premier Tokyo Oshiage offered me a surprisingly comfortable bed and lush comforter across the street from SkyTree. Close to SKYTREE were a metro stop (Oshiage) and a supermarket which was convenient.

  • Nicholas Rich

    The Richmond Hotel Premier Tokyo Oshiage is conveniently located right next to Tokyo Skytree. The décor is modern, and the rooms are spacious and comfy. I was really impressed by the amenities, which include not only the expected free wifi, but also a room-assigned smart phone to help visitors navigate the area and make the most of their trip. A large portion of the staff spoke English, and I saw answer the questions of several guests.

Day2

SHIKOKU(TOKUSHIMA)

Haneda Airport

ANA (ANA Expericence JAPAN Fare) Show details

  • Ian Livingston

    My domestic flight with ANA to Tokushima left right on time despite our boarding just 15 minutes before liftoff. This I found remarkable. Haneda’s domestic terminal was a breeze to travel through. The flight itself was comfortable.

  • Nicholas Rich

    There was a direct train to the Haneda airport via the Asakusa subway line at Oshiage station, and checking in was as simple as scanning my e-ticket. The ANA domestic flight was quite comfortable, with plenty of leg room and complimentary beverages. The view of Mt. Fuji from the plane was truly breathtaking. It was only about an hour and a half to Tokushima, and the flight was over before I knew it. The airport in Tokushima is small but well-staffed, which means it's easy to navigate even if you can't speak Japanese.

Tokushima Awaodori Airportmore

Tokushima Awaodori Airport is located about 20 minutes by car from central Tokushima City, and 11 return flights are operated daily between Tokushima and Haneda, and one return flight between Tokushima and Fukuoka. With Haneda Airport becoming an international airport, flying overseas from Tokushima via Haneda has become easy.

Limousine bus
Tokushima Awaodori Airport → JR Tokushima Station
about 30 minutes / 440 yen

  • Ian Livingston

    The puppet-based art form the area does so well comes with no English, but I found no problem with that. The visuals and rhythms were fascinating and helpful in an understanding of the story unfolding before me. In the museum beside the theater, there are demo puppets to try for yourself.

  • Nicholas Rich

    I had never heard of Awa Ningyo Joruri, a traditional puppet theater unique to Tokushima, before this visit so I wasn't sure what to expect. The theater where it was performed was gorgeous, and the incredible, hand-made details combined with the delicate movements of the puppeteers truly brought the puppets to life. I was also able to get a hands-on experience with the dolls at the adjoining museum, which was really fun.

JR Tokushima Station → JR Oboke Station
Super express fare, about 110 minutes / 3,800 yen

  • Ian Livingston

    At this truck stop on the freeway to Koboke and Oboke Gorges from Tokushima, there was delicious food. The soy-sugar beef sukiyaki I put down was one of the best things I ate in Japan.

Oboke and Koboke Gorges (Oboke Gorges excursion boat)more

“Oboke and Koboke” are the gorges running about eight kilometers, created by the torrents of the Yoshino River traversing the Shikoku mountainous land over 200 million years, and boast of the spectacular scenery as if marble sculpture is rising high.
Aboard the “Oboke Gorges excursion boat,” passengers get to see the beauty of the gorges up close, and enjoy the marvelous landscape spreading before their eyes while listening to the guidance by veteran boatmen.

  • Ian Livingston

    Between the steep crystalline schistose walls of the gorges, the rest of Japan felt far away. Many travelers have found their way to this place. I was touched by the hearty welcoming by the smiling team members here.

  • Nicholas Rich

    The Oboke and Koboke are gorges carved through the mountainous Shikoku landscape by the Yoshino river over 200 million (!!) years ago. They run for about 8 kilometers (almost 5 miles). The excursion boat tour is about a 25-minute round trip, guided by boatmen who are happy to share the area's rich history. I would love to go back and see what it's like each season, maybe aboard the train that runs alongside the river.

Bus stop Oboke Eki Mae → Bus stop Kazurabashi
About 35 minutes / 660 yen

Iya no Kazurabashimore

RECOMMENDED DESTINATIONS

“Iya no Kazurabashi,” known as one of Japan’s three largest strange bridges, is made by putting together five tons of vines, replaced every three years. The bridge is full of thrills, creaking and shaking with every step you take (the bridge, which is 45 meters long, two meters wide and 14 meters above the water, is designated as an important tangible folk cultural property by the state).

  • Ian Livingston

    The Iya Vine Bridge is straight out of myth, of fiction. Tightly bound vines are the skeleton and the skin of this over-water walkway, which hangs and creaks with every step. I found it a thrill. If you’re afraid of heights or of bridges, know that most people cross it at a snail’s pace. There’s also a pretty waterfall on the far bank.

  • Nicholas Rich

    The Iya Vine Bridge is one of those places that has to be seen to be believed. The bridge is one of many that used to span the Iya Valley, and no one is sure exactly why they were built. Today, the bridge is reinforced by metal cables, but is still composed of 5 tons of vines (!!) that are replaced every three years. I'm not afraid of heights, but the swaying of the bridge with each step I took was a bit harrowing at first, and the view between the planks definitely had my pulse racing. It was a thrilling experience made all the better by the gorgeous scenery of the valley itself.

Bus Stop Kazurabashi → Bus Stop Oboke Eki Mae
About 35 minutes, 660 yen
Use the free hotel courtesy bus from Oboke Station

Hotel Mannaka

  • Ian Livingston

    I was told that a hotel in this part of Tokushima should have a good onsen above all. Hotel Obokekyo Mannnaka has a good onsen (also my first ever). My large room had the space to balance a big western bed and a separate corner of tatami mat. Meals, complemented by a menu of local sakes, were filling and led by amazing soup.

  • Nicholas Rich

    Hotel Obokekyo Mannaka is very close to Oboke-Koboke, which makes it the perfect place to stop when planning an excursion of the area. The room I stayed in was so spacious it must be meant for a family. The shower in the room was really lovely, but I opted enjoying a long soak in the outdoor hot spring. The food for both dinner and breakfast was incredible, comprised of small plates of artfully prepared Japanese dishes made from locally-sourced produce and proteins.

Day3

Hotel Mannaka

  • Nicholas Rich

    Before leaving the Hotel Obokekyo Mannaka, we went to one of the surrounding hills to see the unkai, literally a sea of clouds that descends from the mountains into the Oboke-Koboke gorge below. The vibrant trees surrounded by mist in the morning sun was lovely way to start the day.

JR Oboke Station → JR Tokushima Station
Super express fare, about 110 minutes / 3,800 yen

Bus stop Tokushima Station → Bus stop Naruto Koen
About 80 minutes / 710 yen

  • Ian Livingston

    Udatsu Street is in places hundreds of years old and still postcard-perfect. Here, the nostalgic townscape of the Japanese aesthetic pop as they would in a museum installation. The houses of the old indigo merchants that once lived and profited here now hold treasures like handmade bamboo umbrellas and master craftsmen, to be opened to the public as I found looking inside a few.

    An all-you-can-eat buffet of Japanese food set against the crashing waves of the Kiisuido Straight. I ate a lot of udon, seaweed and sushi, plus some memorable sweet potato ice cream (soft cream).

    I have to say that for the Otsuka Museum of Art has a lot to be proud of. Replicas of the world’s most famous works of Western art—about 1,000 from more than 190 museums—have been cut with precision into ceramic boards to great effect in their original dimension. The Last Supper―before and after the restoration―, the Mona Lisa, elusive Guernica…and you can experience up close and touch them all gently!

  • Nicholas Rich

    Udatsu Street, in Wakimachi, is one of the best preserved collections of traditional buildings in the country. The street is about 430-meters long, with 85 buildings, many of which are still used as residences today. It's open to visitors for a small fee, and offers a rare glimpse into the lifestyle of the Edo period. Another thing that makes the atmosphere of Udatsu Street so special is the lack of electrical poles or power lines, which are all wired under ground. Of course, my understanding of the intricate details that make Udatsu Street so special would not have been possible without the informative explanations provided by our volunteer guide, a lovely local woman who spoke excellent English.

    The Rennaisance Naruto Resort is a luxurious oceanside hotel. We stopped in for a buffet-style lunch, snapper sashimi was unbelievably fresh, with an unctuous flavor and meaty texture, and I went up for more than one helping. The pumpkin ice cream was also a light, flavorful way to end the meal.

    I was so surprised by the Otsuka Museum of Art. It's an expansive, five-floor museum built inside of the National Park, and contains more than 1,000 replicas of priceless masterpieces of Western art, from ancient murals to modern paintings. These masterpieces are reproduced to their original size using ceramic boards. Perhaps the best part is that, unlike the art from which the replicas were created, there are no barricades to restrict viewing so visitors can get quite close to the work as much as they'd like with no fear of compromising its integrity. I really enjoyed immersing myself in marvelous works throughout the ages. Be sure to stop by the gift shop before leaving! I recommend the cute badges they have available, as well as their English-language catalogue of 100 masterpieces on display.

Naruto Uzushio Whirlpools (Uzu-no-Michi)more

“Uzu no Michi” is an enclosed walkway built within the bridge girder (below the roadway) of the Onaruto Bridge over the Naruto Strait.
At the end of the 450-meter-long walkway is the circuit-style observatory that makes use of the space of the girders of the Onaruto Bridge.
When you peer through the glass floor 45 meters above the waters, you can really sense the whirlpools and the roaring tidal currents.

  • Ian Livingston

    The local soccer team is named after these whirlpools. The winds were churning the waters with unusual intensity on the day of my visit. This made my whirlpool cruise more exciting than it might otherwise have been.

  • Nicholas Rich

    The Naruto Strait separates Shikoku from Japan's main island, Honshu, and is spanned by the Onaruto Bridge. Constructed in 1985, the Onaruto Bridge spans 876 meters, 1629 meters overall (about 2900 feet, 5300 feet overall!). The bridge has an enclosed pedestrian walkway beneath the roadway, the Uzu no Michi, with an observatory 45 meters above the water, the perfect place to view the Naruto Uzushio! Winter is when the currents are the strongest, and the whirlpools can get up to 20 meters across at their peak! The view was spectacular, and the strength of the wind combined with the speed of the current really showed off the power of nature.

Bus stop Naruto Koen → Bus stop Tokushima Station
About 80 minutes / 710 yen

  • Ian Livingston

    It was a short trip by funicular up to Tokushima City’s highest point, 290meters above sea level. A city from above, in this case shaped more than usual by waterways, is always worth seeing.

    A filling dinner taken on tatami mat in a private room. From the flurry of courses I most enjoyed the sea bream and some more great soup.

  • Nicholas Rich

    Mt. Bizan is in the heart of Tokushima city. While there is a hiking path, visitors can take a short ride on a ropeway tram to the top for a spectacular view of the city, and the Yoshino river. There's also an LED lighting fixture that is visible from the city below (especially at night), and regularly changes color. After enjoying the view, visitors can relax at the small cafe on Bizan's summit.

    Kappo Hamai was a short walk from the foot of Mt. Bizan, and serves up more of what I've come to understand as the regional cuisine; succulent hot pot of tender wagyu beef sukiyaki and others. Our server was exceptionally polite, and explained each dish of our meal with impressive thoroughness. The classic Japanese décor created an atmosphere of having a decadent dinner in the old family home of a friend.

Awa Odori Kaikanmore

The facility where visitors can enjoy “Awa Odori,” one of the best-known dance festivals in Japan with a history of 400 years, throughout the year. You can view the Awa Odori performance and also dance together.
At the Awa Odori Museum in the same building, you can enjoy and learn the history of Awa Odori.

  • Ian Livingston

    This is where the Tokushima local dance called Awaodori I kept hearing about came to life. I watched it take hold of both performers and crowd irrespective of age and home country.

  • Nicholas Rich

    Awa Odori is Tokushima's traditional dance, filled with exuberance and energy. At the Awa Odori Museum, it was great to get a closer look at the history of the dance, and to watch one of the local troupes perform. After the show, the troupe leader invited the audience to join in. It was really great to be part of them with so much cultural importance to the community, which made the experience even more memorable.

10 minutes by foot to the accommodation facility

Tokushima Station Area

  • Ian Livingston

    Awa Kanko Hotel is a very simple hotel with simple offerings. Its best attribute in my mind is its downtown setting, which includes immediately proximity to the great bowl of ramen I had around the corner.

  • Nicholas Rich

    The Awa Kanko Hotel is conveniently located in the center of Tokushima city. The room was incredibly spacious and had a great view of Mt. Bizan and the Awa Odori Museum at night. After a busy day, I took a nice hot bath, and I fell asleep on the comfy bed almost before I realized it. In the morning, I had breakfast at the restaurant on the top floor of the hotel. Like most places, it was buffet style, with traditional Japanese fare and some Western staples. My personal favorite was the curry - a thick, dark roux with meat and veggies, and just the right amount of spice.

Day4

Tokushima Station Area

  • Ian Livingston

    Indigo occupies an important place in the story of Tokushima and all Japan, so it was nice to meet the people and processes behind its production. Dying a hankerchief at Ai-no-Yakata served as a very illustrative visit. Photos of visits by the emperor-to-be hunged on the walls.

    Ryozenji Temple is the first of the 88 stops on Shikoku’s temple route. The precinct of a temple is serene and a perfect place for reflection.

    I walked into the Naruto German House and listened to the very musical story of German prisoners in Tokushima during WWI. The men’s legacy - two bridges were constructed by them extends to nearby Oasa Hiko Shrine, which in its autumn colors became my favorite place in the prefecture.

    If you feel like a break from Japanese cuisine (I didn’t), Ristorante Fishbone cooks up Italian plates powered by the fruits of the sea in front of the restaurant. They served a nice lunch of sweet potato soup, octopus, and mushroom-chicken risotto.

    I have never known sake well, and so I found the tour of Honke Matsuura Brewery truly enlightening. My assigned liaison was a generous and proud man who led me toward a better sake understanding through a tasting at the end.

  • Nicholas Rich

    The Aizumicho Historical Museum is dedicated to the history and cultivation of the Tokushima's famous Awa indigo, which I had heard so much about throughout the trip. The main building has a collection of beautiful indigo goods on display. Perhaps the most exciting part of the museum is that you can also get hands-on dyeing experience and make your own handkerchief. Thanks to the thorough (and patient) tutelage of the kind indigo workers, even I was able to create a beautiful design. It's really great to be able to share in the area's rich history, and to have a piece of it to take home with you.

    Located in Bando, Ryozenji Temple is the first stop on the historic 88 temple pilgrimage around Shikoku. While there are various tours that help visitors make the trek. As the first stop, Ryozenji sells the traditional gear worn during the pilgrimage - a walking stick, white robes, and woven hats. Upon completion, many pilgrims return to Ryozenji to offer thanks for their safe travels.

    The Naruto German House is another incredibly surprising piece of Tokushima's history. During World War I, the Japanese made an attack on a German military base in Tsingtao, China. About 1,300 of German soldiers were held in Bando, where they were given almost complete autonomy despite their status as prisoners of war, and the facility had many amenities. There was a large amount of cultural exchange amongst the soldiers and the locals, which planted roots for a long-lasting friendship that can still be felt to this day. The Naruto German House is the repurposed site of the camp, now a museum to wartime history.

    The Resort Hotel Moanna Coast is seaside hotel, and we stopped in for lunch at the adjoining restaurant, Fishbone. We sampled an incredible course menu of Italian-inspired dishes prepared with local ingredients, and each component was delicious.

    Honke Matsuura Brewery is actually quite famous in the U.S., where their flagship sake, Naruto-Tai, is sold at any Japanese restaurant that wants to be taken seriously. I was really excited to get to see the facility where it was made, and sample some of their wares. After a tasting, a staff took us on an extensive tour of the breweries facilities. For fans of sake, the Honke Matsuura Brewery is a must-see while exploring Tokushima.

Limousine bus
JR Tokushima Station → Tokushima Awaodori Airport
about 30 minutes, 440 yen

Tokushima Awaodori Airport

ANA Show details

Haneda Airport

  • Ian Livingston

    Tokushima's onsens, crystalline schistose gorges and easy calm provide an amazing contrast to the urban ambience of Tokyo. The easy connection to Tokushima opened up another side of Japan and a more complete trip.

  • Nicholas Rich

    One of my greatest pleasures is traveling throughout the country, getting in touch with local culture, and coming to understand even a little of what makes each place so special. Through this trip, I feel like I really connected with the warm-hearted people of Tokushima, and the gorgeous locales they call home. It's obvious how proud everyone is of their cultural heritage and their traditions, and their desire to share it with visitors both domestic and abroad.

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM TRAVELERS

Tokyo is relentlessly, bottomlessly exciting. Tokushima's natural scenery such as onsens and high crystalline schistose gorges provide an amazing contrast. I will be back to Japan many times, and always with great memories of this trip.

Ian Livingston
Editor
Reside in USA
  • Hobby

    Food, basketball, nature documentary

  • Number of visits to Japan

    Once

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM TRAVELERS

Asakusa has a rich history, some beautiful parks scattered throughout the area, that great modern Tokyo feel thanks to buildings like the Sky Tree, restaurants, shopping, and more. From there, a visit to Tokushima is an incredible way to see a different side of the country and there are so many different ways to enjoy nature. Unlike the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, traveling throughout Tokushima Prefecture offers visitors the chance to really soak in the local culture.

Nicholas Rich
Editor/Writer
Reside in Kanagawa
Home country: USA
  • Hobby

    Travel, Food, Pop Culture, History

  • Length of stay in Tokyo

    3 years

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