Travelling a little ways inland, one can find one of the most easily recognisable landmarks in Tokushima Prefecture – the natural earth pillars of Dochu. Much like the Naruto Whirlpools, these earth pillars are rated as a top world-wide natural feature. They rank alongside the sand pillars found in the Rockies in Wyoming, USA, and in the Tyrol region of Italy as one of the top earth pillars, and formed over 200 million years! While they make for a wonderful sight during the daytime, the evening light can shed a different light onto them, and during night they are illuminated from the bottom, making for a truly spectacular sight.
What to do There: The earth pillars are a good area for sightseeing, although not for much else, but there are a number of good ways to soak in the sights.
First of all – viewing. There are a number of ways to see the pillars themselves, including from a viewing platform at the bottom to climbing all the way to the top. Perhaps the easiest way is to go around to the front of them as in the picture above and follow the trails there. All trails are clearly marked, and you need only walk a short distance to reach a platform with a fine view of the formation. From here you not only have a good view of the pillars at day or at night, but you can also see out into the surrounding area.
Secondly, you can climb to the top of the pillars by several marked trails from the main parking area. While the track is fairly short, the climb is fairly steep, so if you are going out in hot weather it may be handy to have a bottle
of water with you.
At the top, however, the view of the surrounding area is excellent and well worth the climb. It also makes for a great photographic opportunity, but remember to be careful, however, as there are no supports or rails along
In addition to viewing the pillars there is also a large outdoors play area for children with jungle gyms and slides. You can also sample tarai udon, a regional speciality, in one of the many stores nearby, as well as making a trip to nearby hot springs and much more. All in all, it makes for a fun, inexpensive trip for the family.
How to Get There
By train, the Dochu are one hour’s trip from Tokushima City station to the Awa Yamakawa Station. Go out from the station, cross the river there and follow the road straight for around 30 minutes. If going by car, head off the Wakimachi IC, turn left and follow the road around across the river until they come into sight.