Tokushima is a small prefecture southwest of Osaka on the corner of Japan’s smallest island, Shikoku. It’s most known for being the birthplace of Japan’s traditional Awa Odori dance, but there are also natural wonders such as the Whirlpools of Naruto and the unparalleled scenery of Iya Valley. You’re bound to have an appetite after seeing one amazing destination after another, so here are five famous foods you’ll find in Tokushima.
1. Awa no sanchiku (grilled meat)
Tokushima was once called the Awa Province. The region’s agriculture is highly regarded, especially its meat. Awa no sanchiku, or “Awa’s three livestock,” refers to the prefecture’s beef, pork, and chicken which is some of the very best in Japan.
Awa beef has a soft, sometimes chewy, texture and sweet flavor. The pork is savory and contains moderate fat. Tokushima chickens—or Awa Odori chickens because their movements resemble the Awa Odori dance—graze freely. This gives their meat a low-fat content and a lot of umami flavor.
2. Tokushima ramen
Tokushima ramen comes in three colors—brown, yellow, and white. Brown soup uses tonkotsu (pork bone broth) combined with heavy soy sauce and is usually topped with a raw egg. You’ll fall in love at first bite, trust us.
Yellow soup Tokushima ramen is made with chicken or vegetable broth and light soy sauce, while white soup ditches the extra broth and just uses soy sauce and tonkotsu for a lighter flavor.
The toppings are pretty much the same, but all three colors taste sweet and salty. If you’re near Tokyo and want to try Tokushima ramen, drop by Inotani at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.
3. Naruto kintoki (sweet potatoes)
Tokushima’s out of this world sweet potatoes have been cultivated in the region for centuries. The most famous variety, kintoki-imo (golden potato), comes from Naruto City and is named after the Japanese folk hero Kintaro the golden boy. These have a fluffy texture and high sugar content for extra sweetness.
In Tokushima, you’ll find these sweet potatoes fried, boiled, steamed, and even turned into pudding and ice cream.
4. Dekomawashi (grilled skewers)
This traditional Iya Valley dish comes from Tokushima’s Miyoshi City. The dish is simply skewered Iya potatoes, tofu, and konjac slathered in miso and roasted over an open flame. The name comes from the Japanese words for puppets (deko) and the action of turning something over (mawashi). The ingredients stacked on top of each other resemble the deko puppet. Often paired with river fish, dekomawashi is sweet and savory.
5. Kaizoku ryori (pirate food)
Kaizoku ryori (pirate food) originated in Tokushima with shell divers and fisherman grilling their hauls right on the beach. Today, you can find restaurants around Tokushima’s ports and beaches serving up grilled mollusks, lobsters, shrimp, and abalone.
One of the more popular kaizoku ryori restaurants is Shishikui in Tokushima City. It’s a bit pricey at around ¥8,000 per person, but if you find yourself craving high-quality seafood, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Wondering what else to eat around Japan? Check out more of our famous foods series for ideas!