That afternoon we drove down from the mountains of Tokushima back into civilization – where we visited the old traditional streets of Mima, which I found to be absolutely lovely. In addition to beautifully preserved old Japanese buildings with cafes and shops built into them, there were several spots in which you could try your hand at some traditional crafts, one of them being making Wagasa, Japanese umbrellas.
Having photographed a few wagasa workshops around Japan, I was surprised to find that Tokushima prefecture also had a history of making them, as the main centers of production are typically said to be Gifu, Kyoto, Kanazawa and Yodoe. There is a small workshop in Mima that is keeping the tradition alive by a thread though, and it’s only here that you can get hands on with making paper umbrellas.
A short way down the street is a small indigo dyeing workshop where you can make your very own scarf or handkerchief dyed with all-natural indigo dye – said to be the most resilient color in nature and also great for keeping away bugs. It’s worth mentioning that in Shikoku, it is far cheaper to have these hands-on craft experiences unlike tourism hotspots like Tokyo and Kyoto.
All in all, I wish I had had more time to leisurely explore Mima to stroll around and photograph some of the architecture as well as relax at one of the beautiful cafes they have there – I love old townscapes like this and I’m definitely looking forward to going back soon!
In the next installment of The Shikoku Files, we take a long drive to the southern coast of Shikoku to explore Kochi prefecture, and there are plenty of shenanigans to be had there!