ワイルドな自然に遊ぶ――徳島

[From August Issue 2011]

Shikoku is one of Japan’s four main islands. Tokushima Prefecture is in the eastern part of this island. The population of the prefecture is approximately 800,000. Eighty percent of Tokushima is mountainous. Bordered by the ocean and rivers, it is rich in natural beauty. Because of its lush greenery and mild climate, a variety of different crops can be harvested there throughout the year. Among these crops, the sudachi (which is similar to lime) is a specialty of Tokushima. The prefecture’s charm lies in its delicious food and wild vegetation.

Tokushima also boasts Mount Tsurugi, which is known as a sacred mountain. Standing at 1,955 meters high, the mountain provides spectacular views of the sun rising through a sea of clouds. In the precincts of Ohtsurugi Shrine, near the summit, water gushes out from a natural spring. The spring is considered to be one of the top 100 water sources in Japan. Fascinated by its abundant nature, a number of foreign artists have visited Tokushima. Kamiyama, one of the largest production areas of plums in western Japan, actively encourages artists to visit and engages them in a variety of artistic activities.

A gorge cuts through the deep mountains. Driving along a highway past dizzying cliffs, you come to Iya Valley, one of Japan’s three most secluded regions. A number of poignant legends concerning the Genpei War (a battle between the Taira and Minamoto clans) are told about this beautiful village. The village is built on the steep slopes of the surrounding mountains. Terraced rice paddies appear differently in the morning and evening light. Suspension bridges called kazura-bashi made from wild vines have been designated as Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.

The Iya River, flows from its source at Mount Tsurugi, under unsteadily swaying vine bridges. Running into Oboke-kyo gorge, the Iya River connects with the Yoshino River. The Yoshino River, flows rapidly, throwing up spray and white water rafting along it is popular. After enjoying the sport to the limit, it may be a good idea to eat Iya soba noodles while gazing down at the gorge. In summer, you can eat outside while listening to the murmur of the river.

Oboke-kyo / Kazura-bashi

 

The Yoshino River is sometimes called Shikoku Saburo, which is a male nickname. The reason being, it used to be a violent waterway and often caused floods. Old jizo statues in this area are mounted on high plinths so that they do not get submerged if there’s a flood. This violent river doesn’t just bring floods, it also deposits a huge amount of nutrients in the soil.

Because of the fertile soil brought by the Yoshino River, Tokushima used to be a major producer of indigo plants. Since the dye from those plants acts as a pesticide and also as a disinfectant, samurai warriors are said to have worn indigo-dyed underwear beneath their suits of armor. In Wakimachi, aka “Udatsu Town,” the former residences of indigo-dye merchants remain to this day. Those merchants built their houses with expensive fire protection walls called udatsu and competed with their neighbors to erect the most splendid facades.

The famous Awa Odori (The Awa Dance Festival) began 400 years ago, a period in which Tokushima flourished thanks to its monopoly of the indigo and salt trade. Awa Odori events are held in all parts of the prefecture, kicking off with Naruto-City’s Awa Odori tournament, which takes place in early August. Tokushima-City’s Awa Odori is the most popular, attracting crowds of tourists every year. The way groups of more than ten performers (ren) dance is so dynamic that you cannot help being excited when you see it.

If you visit Tokushima during the festival, you’ll hear festival music in the distance. The scent of grilled squid and dishes from food stands wafts through the air. It’s not a bad idea to wander aimlessly around the town and check out the street stalls, but if you start from Tokushima Station for Aibahama Enbujo and then walk past the yatai (food stalls) toward Mizugiwa Park, you will be able to watch the Awa Odori performance. There is a tourist information center near the station, where you can receive advice on which route to take.

Awa Odori

 

While walking around the prefecture, you may come across people dressed in white wearing straw hats similar to those seen in period dramas. These are the “ohenro-san” pilgrims, who journey to visit 88 Buddhist temples located throughout Shikoku. In the past, those pilgrims must have been fiercely committed to undertaking the trip: It is said that if a pilgrim dies during the journey, their white garments serve as burial vestments and the cane, in which the spirit of Kobo-Daishi (a great teacher of Buddhism) dwells, can be used as their grave marker.

Ohenro-san travel 1,200 to 1,400 kilometers, visiting the hallowed grounds of Shikoku Hachiju Hakkasho (88 temples in Shikoku), which were built around 1,200 years ago. The journey takes about 40 days on foot and roughly ten days by car. Temples (known as fuda-sho) number one to 23 and 66 are located in Tokushima. In modern times, not only Buddhists, but also those seeking solace often undertake the journey.

Ohenro-san

 

If you have made it to the first fuda-sho, Ryozenji Temple, in Naruto City, you might as well go to see the uzushio (whirlpools) while you are at it. Up to 20 meters in diameter, uzushio whirl vigorously at speeds of up to 20 kilometers per hour. A cruise in which you leisurely watch these currents from a boat is very popular. You can experience yet another side of Tokushima, by sailing along the rough Naruto Strait for 30 minutes, while deeply inhaling in the fresh ocean air.

Some restaurants in Naruto City serve fresh seafood that the owners themselves have caught by setting out early in the morning in fishing boats. Fish that have endured the rapid currents of the Naruto Strait are firm and tasty. Popular dishes include fresh fish eaten raw with sudachi juice, kamameshi (rice cooked in a small iron pot) with plenty of sea bream, and miso soup with locally grown wakame seaweed.

Uzushio

 

When you come to Tokushima, don’t forget to eat Tokushima ramen. Tokushima ramen is divided into three types according to the color of its broth: white, yellow and black. It’s the black broth ramen which is famous nationwide. Thinly sliced pork is placed on the noodles instead of char siu (Chinese-style barbecued pork). Quite a few customers visit the prefecture just to eat this unusual ramen topped with a raw egg.

The journey from Tokyo to Tokushima takes one hour by air and about ten hours by overnight bus. If you’re coming from the Tokai or Kinki region, it’s convenient to cross the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge by express bus. From Wakayama Prefecture or Kyushu, you can also use a ferry. To travel around the prefecture, it’s convenient to rent a car. August is peak season so you’ll need to book a hotel room well in advance. 

Photos courtesy of the Tokushima Prefectural International Exchange Association

Text: NARUTO Kouji

[2011年8月号掲載記事]

四国は日本の主要な島の一つ。徳島県はこの島の東部にあります。人口は約80万人。面積の約8割は山。海や川に囲まれた、自然豊かなところです。広がる緑と、温暖な気候のおかげで、年間を通じ様々な農作物が栽培されています。中でもスダチ(ライムに似た果物)は徳島の名産です。おいしい食べ物とワイルドな植物が魅力の県です。

また、徳島には霊山として有名な剣山があります。標高は1,955メートル。雲海の中を朝日が昇る様は壮観です。山頂近くの大剣神社では、名水百選に選ばれた湧き水もあります。この豊かな自然に魅せられ、徳島を訪れる海外の芸術家もたくさんいます。西日本最大級の梅の郷・神山は、そういった人々を積極的に受け入れ、様々な芸術活動を行っています。

深い山を切り込む渓谷。目が眩むばかりの断崖を眺めながら街道を走ると、日本三大秘境の一つ、祖谷に着きます。源平合戦にまつわる悲しい伝説が数多く残された、美しい村です。山の急斜面に張り付くように建つ集落。朝夕で表情を変える棚田。野生の植物を編んで作られた吊り橋は、かずら橋と呼ばれ、国の重要有形民俗文化財にも指定されています。

不安定に揺れるかずら橋の下を流れるのは、剣山を水源とする祖谷川です。祖谷川は、渓谷、大歩危峡に流れ込み吉野川につながっています。水しぶきを上げる吉野川では、激流に挑むラフティングが人気です。思う存分遊んだ後は、渓谷を見下ろして祖谷そばを食べるのも良いでしょう。夏には川のせせらぎを聞きながら外で食べることもできます。

大歩危峡/かずら橋

 

吉野川は、男性の名前でもある「四国三郎」とも呼ばれています。かつてよく洪水を起こす暴れ川だったからです。この地にある古い地蔵は、洪水にあっても水に沈まないよう高い台座にのっています。しかし、この暴れ川がもたらしたのは洪水だけではありません。豊富な栄養分もまた、この地に運んで来たのです。

吉野川がもたらした肥沃な大地を利用し、かつて徳島は藍の一大産地になりました。藍には防虫、殺菌の効果があり、武士は鎧の下に藍で染めた肌着を着て身を守ったといわれています。現代でも、うだつの町並みと呼ばれる藍商人達の屋敷が脇町に残されています。彼らは高価なうだつと呼ばれる防火壁のある屋敷を建て、豪勢さを競っていました。

有名な阿波踊りは400年前、藍や塩の専売で徳島が豊かになった頃に始まりました。8月初めに行なわれる鳴門市選抜阿波踊り大会を始めに、阿波踊りは県内各地で開催されます。最もにぎわうのは徳島市です。毎年たくさんの観光客が訪れます。数十人が連と呼ばれるグループになって踊るさまは、ダイナミックで見るものを興奮させずにはいられません。

祭りの期間中に徳島を訪れると、どこからともなくお囃子の音が聞こえてきます。風にのって、イカ焼や屋台の食べ物の匂いもします。露天をのぞきながらあてもなく町を散策するのもよいですが、徳島駅前から藍場浜演舞場へ行き、屋台を覗きながら水際公園へ行くと、効率よく阿波踊りを見ることが出来るでしょう。駅のそばには観光案内所があるのでルートを相談することもできます。

阿波踊り

 

県内を歩いていると、時代劇に出てくるような笠をかぶった、白い衣装の人々を見かけるかもしれません。彼らは四国中にある八十八の仏教寺院を巡って旅する巡礼者で、お遍路さんと呼ばれています。昔は並々ならぬ覚悟で旅をしていたのでしょう。白い衣装は死装束、弘法大師の宿る杖は、旅の途中で亡くなったときに墓の代わりになるといわれています。

お遍路さんは、約1200年前に創建された、四国八十八ヵ所霊場と呼ばれる四国にある寺院を巡り、1,200~1,400キロの旅をします。徒歩だと約40日。自動車でも10日程かかる旅程です。徳島にあるのは、この1番から23番までと66番の札所と呼ばれる寺院です。現代では仏教徒だけではなく、癒しを求め旅をする人も多いといわれています。

お遍路さん

 

鳴門市にある、一番札所の霊山寺まで来たら、足をのばして渦潮を見に行きましょう。大きなもので直径20メートルで、20キロの速度で豪快に渦を巻きます。その渦潮を観潮船に乗ってゆったりと見るクルーズが人気を集めています。潮の香りを胸いっぱいに吸い込みながら、30分かけて荒々しい鳴門海峡を巡ると、また違った徳島の一面を見ることができます。

鳴門にある料理屋の中には、早朝自ら漁船で漁に出掛け、採ってきた新鮮な魚介類を料理に出しているところもあります。鳴門海峡の速い潮でもまれた魚介類は、身が引き締まっていて絶品。その他、スダチをかけた新鮮な刺身、鯛をふんだんに使った釜飯、鳴門わかめのお味噌汁なども人気です。

渦潮

 

徳島に来たら、徳島ラーメンを食べるのを忘れてはいけません。「白系」「黄系」「黒系」に分けられる徳島ラーメンですが、全国的に知られているのは、濃厚な黒系のラーメンです。チャーシューの代わりに豚ばら肉がのっています。生卵を上に乗せる独特なラーメンを食べるためだけに、県外からお客が来るのも珍しくありません。

アクセスは東京からは飛行機で一時間。夜行バスだと約10時間かかります。東海や近畿地方からなら、高速バスで明石海峡大橋を渡るのが便利です。和歌山や九州から来るのなら、フェリーを使うことも出来ます。県内各地を巡るのであれば、レンタカーを借りた方が便利です。8月は最も混む時期なので、早めにホテルを予約する必要があります。

写真提供:徳島県観光協会

文:鳴兜柑子

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