Posts Tagged ‘shikoku’

I had wanted to visit at least one Japanese island besides Honshu, and once I decided to include the Japan Alps on my itinerary, my first choice, Kyushu, was just too far. But Shikoku seemed reasonably close, and I could get there by ferry. However, the day I spent getting from Koya-san on Honshu to Tokushima on Shikoku would have been a bit of a marathon even without a bad ankle, as it involved five buses, two trains, one cable car, one ferry, and, finally, one taxi. The first two buses got me to and from the cemetery, and the third, after I retrieved my main pack from the temple, back to the cable car.


Permanent "ad" for the Naruto whirlpools


The first train took me down to Hashimoto, where I found the station undergoing renovation, and sadly short on escalators, elevators and options for lunch. But I made my next train, for Wakayama, with no difficulty. Even though it was Sunday, at one point I shared the otherwise all-male carriage with half a dozen school girls, in full uniform – plaid skirts, knee-high black socks, blue sweaters and bow ties.

When I had planned this day, I had somehow overlooked the fact that the Wakayama train station might not be next to the ferry dock! Fortunately, the efficient young woman in the Nippon Travel Agency in Kyoto had fixed this potential problem, arranging my trip so that I easily made the single mid-afternoon bus connecting the two.


Unexpected sight in downtown Tokushima


The ferry was unlike any I had ridden before. Up front, a small, enclosed section had airplane-type seats, but no view, and cost an extra 500 yen. In the main section, one area had regular seats facing a TV (showing golf when I checked), and the other two sections were just floor – plus an area for kids. Instead of staying on the breezy deck (where the view was, in any case, largely obstructed by both superstructure and haze),  I dropped my packs, took off my boots, lay down on the floor and gratefully closed my eyes.

After a final bus met the ferry and delivered me to Tokushima’s train station, I gave myself the luxury of a taxi the (very) short distance to my hotel, the unexpectedly posh Agnes. I also ate dinner in the hotel, where the “cafe” served a delicious, and elegant (if expensive) four-course western meal starring a perfectly cooked serving of wagyu beef.

Although there are some other sight-seeing option in Tokushima, my main objective was actually in Naruto – for the whirlpools. I skipped the Awa Odori museum showcasing the town’s dance festival, and its associated ropeway, deeming the kilometer round-trip too far for my ankle, but did visit the whirlpools, using the information I had collected from the office on the sixth floor of the station building the day before.


Looking towards the ropeway I didn't take


The bus from the station to the sightseeing boat took over an hour, as it followed a winding route that included a deserted airport. I arrived in good time for the second-best boat of the afternoon – the display is at its best near the full moon (just a few days earlier) and at high and low tides. High tide on September 27 was at 8:00 am, so I had settled for low tide, and I didn’t want to take a later boat since I would still need to catch a train to my next town afterwards.


Naruto whirlpool


While I’m glad I went, I have to say that I found the whirlpools, especially on a damp, overcast day, a little disappointing. Maybe closer to eddies than whirlpools – although I did see one perfect circle, which I unfortunately failed to get on camera. After all, just how ferocious could they be when my boat was able to sail right through? I suppose those given to motion sickness might feel a bit queasy, but no-one on my boat seemed bothered. In a row-boat or a small sail boat, of course, I would have felt differently!


Another sight-seeing boat



And another


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