The hidden haven of Nishi-Awa Step back into a land that time forgot
Historical records tell us that in the twelfth century Heike Clan soldiers fled here after losing the Genpei War, but for nearly thousand years since then, the way of life in Nishia-Awa has changed little. The local food culture maintains its traditional focus on potatoes, buckwheat, and less-common cereal grains in place of rice or wheat. Because the villages are spread out like fans on the steep mountain slopes, inhabitants are called the “people of the sky.” Nishi-Awa’s eternal beauty gives it the air of a land that time forgot.
Regional foods: Buckwheat zosui
Sometimes referred to as a porridge, zosui is a rice soup that is typically made with vegetables, meat and other ingredients. In Nishi-Awa, zosui is made with buckwheat seeds instead of rice. This innovation is said to have come from samurai defeated in the Genpei War who fled to Nishi-Awa and longed for Kyoto and the meals with rice they’d left behind.
A specialty of the area is dekomawashi, a skewer of potato, konnyaku, and hard-pressed tofu that is roasted in the fireplace. Foods made from wild game are also common. As part of your trip to Nishi-Awa, sit at the hearth of a charming traditional home and enjoy local foods over a friendly chat with locals, an experience nourishing for both the body and the mind.
Ochiai, Sarukai, and Nishinosho are among the Nishi-Awa villages that climb up the mountainsides. Filled with steeply sloping fields, traditional homes, and stone walls, these communities rise as much as 400 meters in altitude from one end to another. Renowned Japanologist Alex Kerr describes how this area was considered special, not unlike a Shangri-La, even hundreds of years ago.
Speak with local mountain villagers and learn how they live in harmony with nature. Stay in a farmhouse or other traditional home to experience local customs and foods firsthand. Take in the surrounding nature with a trek through sacred Mount Tsurugi, a rafting trip on the Yoshino River, or a tour on a sightseeing boat to see the beautiful scenery of a gorge. The blessings of the mountains and the rivers are the true attractions of Nishi-Awa.
About an hour by car from Tokushima Airport is the community of Waki. The area prospered in the nineteenth century from the growing demand for indigo-dyed textiles, and textile merchants built luxurious homes that lined the streets of the Udatsu neighborhood which remain to this day. Learn how to farm on the 40-degree slopes of Sarukai or spend a leisurely time at a traditional home built hundreds of years ago. Whatever you do, you will create memories for a lifetime.
|Name||Nishi-Awa Tourism Association Sora-no-sato|