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Wakimachi脇町

Tokushima徳島県

See a row of houses with 'udatsu,' which are rarely found. Vestiges of the Edo Period remain in the houses of prosperous merchants of that time.

Wakimachi is located in the midstream area of the Yoshino-gawa River, in the western part of Tokushima Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. It was a castle town known for 'udatsu,' and it still attracts many tourists with its charming scenery and tranquil environment.

There is no longer any sign of the castle that once existed. The one-time bustling castle town known as Waki-jo (Waki Castle) was at once the home of wealthy merchants and was the distribution center for 'Ai' (indigo) during the Edo Period. Merchants built lavish homes using structures called 'udatsu' to exhibit their wealth. 'Udatsu' refers to a wing plaster wall for two-story urban houses. These features were placed at both edges of the roof and were originally designed to prevent fire from spreading from or to adjacent houses. 'Udatsu' later became valued for their aesthetic appeal. People were eager to place eye-catching 'udatsu' on their houses, extending the height of walls or using magnificently decorated tiles. Many examples of 'udatsu' still exist in Wakimachi, which are rarely seen elsewhere in Japan. The street of 'udatsu' houses has therefore been designated a national preservation district of important traditional structures, and one of the best 100 roads in Japan.

The main street lined with 'udatsu' houses runs approximately 430 meters and includes fifty traditional urban homes. Strolling along the street gives one the sense of going back 200 years in time.
There are also many other important structures in terms of architecture and folklore. They include the Odeon-za (Wakimachi Theater) built about 75 years ago (currently not in use), and the former home of the Nagaoka Family with a thatched hip roof built about 270 years ago.

You should also visit the adjacent town of Teramachi (town of temples). As the name suggests, you can enjoy a historical journey through a "mini ancient city," home to several ancient Buddhist temples.

Directions

From Tokyo :
[Rail] 3h 20 min to Okayama Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 1h 56 min from Okayama to Tokushima Station by JR Seto-ohashi Takatoku Line. 40 min from Tokushima to Anabuki Station by JR Shikoku Tokushima Line "Tsurugisan" (limited express). A 10-minute ride by car.
From Osaka :
[Rail] 40 min from Shin-Osaka to Okayama by Shinkansen.
[Bus] 2h 30 min from Osaka Station to Tokushima Station by express bus.

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