Built on the delta of the Yoshino-gawa – Shikoku’s longest river – and bisected by the Shinmachi-gawa, TOKUSHIMA (徳島), the capital of Tokushima-ken, is known across Japan for its fantastic summer dance festival, the Awa Odori, which is attended every year by over one million people (see The dancing fools). If you’re not among them then don’t worry, as Tokushima does its best to provide a flavour of the Awa Odori experience year-round at the Awa Odori Kaikan, at the foot of Mount Bizan, a parkland area providing sweeping views of the city.
Home to the first temple of the Shikoku pilgrimage, Tokushima has a long history of welcoming visitors and you’ll find it a noticeably friendly and relaxed place, as well as a good base to explore the rest of the prefecture. North of the city are the whirlpools of Naruto, while heading south there’s the pretty coastal village of Hiwasa, where turtles lay their eggs on the beach each summer, popular surf beaches, and, across the border in Kōchi-ken, the jagged cape at Muroto. Inland, the best place to head is the spectacular Iya Valley, including the river gorge at Ōboke.