For more than a thousand years, traditional agriculture and farming culture has been passed down in Nishi-Awa, Shikoku, the historical site of such legends as Heike Ochudo.
The traditional food culture, which centers on long-standing products such as grains, soba (buckwheat) and potatoes, can still be felt in the lives of the people, who are known as the "people of the sky."
The mountain villages that spread out like a fan across the steep mountain range are so beautiful that they can rightly be called "paradise on earth."
A variety of grains are grown in the steep fields on the mountains of Nishi-Awa. "Soba-rice porridge" is a unique local dish that uses soba instead of rice and is said to have been made by nostalgic warriors who had escaped during wartime from the capital city (Kyoto) to this region where rice - a staple of the Japanese diet - could not be obtained.
Local dishes eaten at ancient homes (left); Dekomawashi (right)
Regional foods include dekomawashi, which is potato, konnyaku (devil's tongue), and rock-hard tofu skewered and roasted around a fireplace, and jibie wild game from the hills and fields. Your heart and body will be satisfied as you sit around the fireplace in the elegant and traditional ancient homes while having a friendly conversation with the villagers and eating local cuisine.
Stay at ancient homes
The unique mountain village scenery of Ochiai village, Sarukai village and Nishinosho village, for example, combines steep fields, ancient homes, and stone walls that spread out across the mountains that vary in altitude as much as 400 meters, which Asian cultural researcher Alex Kerr described as being "another world, like Shangri-La."
Sightseeing pleasure cruise
The attractions of Nishi-Awa include interacting with local people from the mountain villages who live in harmony with nature, staying at farm lodges and ancient homes where you will experience "life culture" and "food culture," trekking in the sacred mountains of Tsurugi, and experiencing the abundant "gifts of the mountains and rivers," including rafting and other river sports and pleasure cruises on the Yoshino River system.
Sacred Mount Tsurugi
Western nature environment tour (left); Blue dyeing experience (right)
Approximately one hour by car from Tokushima Airport, luxurious stores built in the 19th Century line the streets of Udatsu in Waki, which prospered as an area of blue dye production. Create unforgettable memories by spending a fulfilling time in agricultural experience at the sloped fields of Sarukai village, which is on a 40-degree slope, or by spending a relaxing time at the well-maintained ancient homes built hundreds of years ago.
Download the PDF version of the "Story Book" with tour itineraries filled with stories.[PDF/7MB]