Tokushima’s Cultural Landscapes

For my last full day in Shikoku, Masako was kind enough to drive me around Tokushima, starting at Kamodani (加茂谷) in Anan City (阿南市) between Kakurin-ji (鶴林寺 – 20) and Tairyūji (太竜寺 – 21). It was a damp morning and fog hung over the mountains, creating a surreal aura along the valley floor.

Nana River from Anan
Nana River from Anan

From the large steel bridge which crosses the Naka River, we first headed north to Katsuura Town and then west along the winding Sakamoto-gawa River, slowly rising into the mountains.

Katsuura Town
Kanjogataki waterfall (灌頂ヶ滝)
Kanjogataki waterfall (灌頂ヶ滝)

Our first stop was Kanjogataki waterfall which is more of a light mist than a cascading torrent. We climbed up for a better look and came across a ledge carved into the mountain where practitioners of Shugendō and Shingon Buddhism carry out fire and water rituals.

Probably not this vigorously.

Onbuchi waterfall (雄淵)
Onbuchi waterfall (雄淵)

A short distance below, obscured from the road by dense foliage, is Onbuchi waterfall. There was a large rock in the centre of the plunge pool which would make the perfect spot to meditate in better weather.

Kamikatsu Town

Continuing east to Kamikatsu we parked in a small village with houses dating back to the 17th Century and continued on foot up Mt. Yamainudake (山犬嶽).

Mt. Yamainudake (山犬嶽)

15 minutes into the walk we came across one of the most astonishing places I’d seen during the whole pilgrimage.

Moss mountain

Set among the mossy feet of the trees and rocks, a mini 88 temple pilgrimage had been created at some point in the distant past with a similar topographical layout to the real thing.

Foreign body

Small stone carvings had been erected to represent each temple and signs pointed out a circular path around them.

Mini Kotohira-gū Shrine

There was even a replica Kotohira-gu Shrine and a mini Mount Ishizuchi, complete with a chain ladder.

Mt. Yamainudake Panorama

Climbing a large rock afforded an astonishing view out over the valley, the swirling mist devouring the mountains beyond.

Foggy forest

Below the green canopy, the cedar trees stood tall and straight like telegraph poles in waiting.

Kashihara no Tanada (樫原の棚田)
Kashihara no Tanada (樫原の棚田)

Back in the car, a short distance south we paused to overlook the beautiful rice terraces at Kashihara no Tanada. The area is designated as an important Cultural Landscape (文化的景観) and protected from development.

Oogamanotaki waterfall (大釜の滝)
Oogamanotaki waterfall (大釜の滝)
Ōtodoronotaki waterfall (大轟の滝)
Ōtodoronotaki waterfall (大轟の滝)

45 minutes west, the largest waterfalls were found in Naka Town along the Sawadani-gawa River. Steep slippery steps allow you to reach the base of Oogamanotaki waterfall from where it becomes apparent how deeply the water has cut into the rock over time.

Lunch at Shikibidani Onsen (四季美谷温泉)

We ended the day with a late lunch at Shikibidani Onsen which specializes in deer and wild boar dishes.

Over misty mountains, along ancient trails and stormy shores, come rain or shine, the pilgrimage took me to places of unfettered beauty and introduced the most generous people I’ve ever met. I’m sure these images will stick in my mind for many years to come.

David avatar

11 responses

  1. Hunter avatar

    This is very haiku-like: Below the green canopy the cedar trees stood tall and straight like telegraph poles in waiting.

    1. Unintentionally poetic 😀

  2. MissLilly avatar

    wow this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, looks magical and inspiring

    1. It really is 🙂

  3. Michael avatar

    Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with us. Your blog has been a highlight of 2016 for me.

    1. Thanks Michael, very happy to hear that!

  4. Hi David ?

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience ?. I have a question, do you have any advice for logging long trips? Both in words and photos, like how you typically do in your travel.

    I think, the way you shared your experience in a vivid manner made your readers “experience” a fraction of it as well.

    Noting all the information down, taking the pictures, and learning the facts, is there a way to do those without getting “overwhelmed”? If you have any tips, can I request for a post on it ? ?

    1. Hey Sam – nice idea!

      I have a gear review post upcoming but definitely room for a “process” post. As you alluded to, it’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed and end up not enjoying the moment but I think I have a pretty good approach which I’d be more than happy to share. Watch this space!

      1. Yes! Looking forward to it!

  5. Francesco avatar

    I’ve made some research about the mini 88 temple pilgrimage. According to the Google Translate version of a Japanese blog, there’s a stone in that area with “1774” engraved on it. If what I’ve read is correct, the small scale reproduction dates back to that year. The Italian and English translations weren’t different, so both shall be correct. I hope this helps.
    I discovered your blog on day 46 of your Pilgrimage and finally I have time to start reading from day 1. Keep up the good work David.


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