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A Touch of Refinement: The Delicate Sweetness of Japan’s “Wasanbon” Sugar

Wasanbon sugar grown in Shikoku is an essential ingredient in Japanese sweets. Its faint aroma and gentle sweetness help to give wagashi a distinctive taste. Visitors to Hattori Sugar Refinery in Tokushima Prefecture have the chance to make wasanbon sweets by hand.

Japanese Indigo, a Living Tradition

Aizome textiles, prized by the Sengoku samurai for their hygienic benefits as well as their beautiful "Japan blue" color, are the product of a complex and time-consuming process in which human know-how and natural phenomena play equally important roles. Our correspondent traveled to Tokushima, once a thriving center of indigo dyeing, for a hands-on lesson in this living tradition.

The Spiritual Pull of Shikoku’s “Henro” Pilgrimage

The henro pilgrimage route on the island of Shikoku is celebrating its 1,200-year anniversary in 2014. Today people from all over Japan and the rest of the world are walking the circuit of 88 temples that spans the island’s four prefectures. This article looks at the history and charms of the ancient route.

Discovering Shikoku, Japan’s Fourth Largest IslandRichard Medhurst

Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, is perhaps most famous for its 88 temples associated with the priest Kūkai, a key figure in Japanese Buddhism. A 1,200-kilometer pilgrimage route known as the henro taking in all of the temples is popular with both devotees and dedicated tourists. But is certainly not all Shikoku has to offer. And with only five mid-September days to travel, I ch…

Scarecrows Stand Watch over Village on Borrowed TimeHarano Jōji

At first glance, they look much like people, and the village seems to be full of residents going about their daily business. These particular locals are not people, though, but scarecrows. The mannequins outnumber the village’s 40 or so human residents by more than two to one, and on the surface—with their own distinctive personalities—do create a rather cheerful atmosphere. But in the context of …

Why Not Dance? The Awa Odori Festival (Video)

“Some fools dance, and some fools watch. You’re a fool either way, so why not dance?” are the words to the famous Awa Odori. This video presents the dance and a 2014 interpretation inspired by its Buddhist roots.

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