Shikoku: Places to Explore

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Tokushima

Tokushima literally means "virtuous island"—ironic, considering the local residents’ fondness for drinking, dancing, and hard partying. The city’s annual Awa Odori dance festival is Japan’s biggest, but there’s fun to be had year-round in the city and surrounding area. Most visitors stay near the city center or in Naruto, a nearby peninsula famous for giant whirlpools that churn and thunder in the rocky straights below the cliffs. Nearby, the ambitious Otsuka Museum attracts huge crowds for its bizarre and breathtaking archive of the world's art. In surrounding hamlets you can try your hand at local crafts like indigo-dyeing or papermaking as they've done it for centuries. Back in the city proper you'll learn to dance the Awa Odori, either in a special performance hall or with the million others dancing the streets every summer during the Awa Odori Festival. Tokushima's major sights can be covered in a well-planned day or two, giving you plenty of time in the mountains and gorges of Iya after moving on.

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