A little-known town called Wakimachi, Japan

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"Why are you going there?" was the usual response when we told anyone we were spending a week in Wakimachi. It's not exactly on the tourist trail and most people we spoke to in Japan hadn't even heard of it.

But Wakimachi, a small town surrounded by mountains in Tokushima Prefecture, is full of historical buildings, traditional restaurants and friendly locals. It's a great base to explore the surrounding countryside and get a glimpse into life in small-town Japan.

We spent our days cycling around town, laughing with locals over yakitori and huddling next to kerosene heaters at night (we learnt the hard way just how cold traditional Japanese buildings can get in the winter).

There's not much information about Wakimachi online (or at least not in English), and so we relied on this cute hand-drawn map from our host for the week:

Map of Wakimachi

Nodokeya

Nodokeya is a guesthouse in a big traditional building, complete with a cafe, manga room and courtyard. It's right off the Udatsu Street (the nicest part of town) and the perfect spot to explore the area. Even if you don't stay here, the third floor cafe is a lively hangout for guests and locals, and a great way to get to know people in the area.

Nodokeya cafe

Udatsu Street

Wakimachi's main attraction is the Udatsu Street, which is lined with 200-year-old merchant houses from the Edo and Meji periods. The buildings are now little shops and restaurants (one of which serves up the delicious rice cake soup below), and some of the private homes are open to the public.

Me cycling along the Udatsu Street

Nice signs

Rice cake soup lunch

Old buildings

Wakimachi Theatre

The theatre in the middle of town puts on various shows and events. The week were visited there was a free traditional Japanese dance performance on that was a big hit with the seniors in town.

Wakimachi Theatre

Dance performance

Cycling

The best way to get around town, and beyond, is to hire a bike, which you can do for free at the tourist office on the Udatsu Street (English isn't spoken, but the process is easy enough).

Alice cycling around town

Yoshino River

The Yoshino river that runs along the edge of town is the perfect place to watch the sunset or go for a walk.

Yoshino river

Our favourite day in Wakimachi was spent cycling along the path next to the river through a few neighbouring towns. It goes on for miles and miles, through valleys and rural villages.

Our rental bikes

The cycle path

Colin eating lunch by the river

A neighbouring town

Where to eat

Tomato izakaya

For a small town, Wakimachi has a lot of restaurants, and it's a great place to try traditional Japanese dishes at cheaper prices than the big cities.

You can find the location of these spots on the map above.

There's not too much out there on Wakimachi, so do feel free to get in touch if you're headed to this area and would like any more info!