The town of Kaiyo, situated in the southern part of Tokushima Prefecture, is blessed with both sea and sunshine—as its very name suggests (the Japanese character kai represents the sea, and yo, sunshine). Surrounded by emerald blue waters, you can enjoy a wide range of marine activities, explore the traditional craft of natural indigo dyeing, and hike to the spectacular Todoroki Falls, a real treasure of the mountains. Discover the true healing spirit of Tokushima, with its natural bounties and rich cultural legacy.
Reki Nagahara is a free surfer and producer who incorporates the traditional craft of indigo dyeing into his activities. Born in Kaiyo, Tokushima Prefecture, he won the Nippon Student Surfing Association Championship while attending university. After graduation, he studied surfing, music, and art while working in Tokyo, the U.S. and Australia. In 2010, he returned to his hometown in Tokushima. Combining tradition and innovation, he now spreads the message of the natural, cultural, and historical heritage of Japan and his hometown.
“After being active as a surfer in Japan and abroad, as well as working in the music industry in Tokyo, I happened to visit an organic event and found an Awa indigo booth, which led me to rediscover the charm of my hometown. I learned a lot about indigo, and was impressed by the fact that there is such an amazing traditional craft culture in Japan. I wanted to learn more about it, and when I looked closely at the business card I had received, I noticed it was a company from Kaiyo. And so, soon after this, I decided to return to my hometown to deepen my knowledge of and skill in indigo dyeing.”
After returning to Kaiyo, Mr. Nagahara has rediscovered the charms of his childhood home.
“The waves are great, the water is so clean, and it feels really good to be right where the mountains meet the sea. Also, I can feel the richness of the mountains through the natural culture of indigo dyeing, its origins in farming, in surfing; and the depth of culture that lives here between the sea and the mountains.”
In addition to being a world-famous surfing spot, Kaiyo is full of beautiful nature—including the Haha River, famous for twinkling fireflies, and the majestic Todoroki Falls. Mr. Nagahara is working hard to share the spirit of his hometown with the outside world through his surfing and indigo dyeing activities.
“In the beginning, Kaiyo prospered mainly through forestry and fishing—surfing and indigo dyeing were not known as a part of our culture. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to have both locals and outsiders learn and know more about charms of this town. The indigo dyeing experience at “in Between Blues”, which I run, is one part of that, and we are also currently working with the local government on a surfing school for local children who have never had the opportunity to surf before.”
One of the key words is “Surfonomics”, a town-planning concept that aims to keep a record of surfing’s economic contributions to local economies. It started and caught on in the Basque region of Spain and California, and is now also being conducted in Miyazaki Prefecture and the Shonan region of Japan.
“The blue of indigo and the blue of the sea—even the Shikoku Pilgrimage, associated with the famous monk Kukai (whose name is written with the Japanese characters for “sky” and “sea”) can also be connected to the color blue. And when surf culture is added to it, it becomes a place like nowhere else.”
In Kaiyo, where nature and culture have coexisted since ancient times, tradition is combining with new modern styles to create a fusion all its own.
Venture to the upper reaches of the crystal-clear Kaifu River to discover the majestic Todoroki Falls, named one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls. The largest waterfall in Shikoku, it is surrounded by numerous other waterfalls in the area that are known together as the 99 Todoroki Falls. The Japanese word todoroki means “to roar”, and the name befits the mighty, crashing waters. The waterfalls come in various sizes and shapes, with the most impressive among them being the main Todoroki Falls, with a breathtaking drop of 58 meters.
Just a 5-minute walk from here you’ll find Todoroki Shrine, where a lively and dynamic autumn festival has been held for more than 400 years. The ceremony features the unique custom of men who carry mikoshi, or portable shrines, which must be purified in the waterfall several times the night before the performance. On this auspicious day, the mikoshi is solemnly carried down stone stairs and into the waterfall, where the spectacular ritual is carried out. This festival is traditionally celebrated by the people of both the mountains and the sea, who would come together on occasion to express their gratitude for the blessing of water.
The surrounding forest has been also selected as one of Japan’s Top 100 Water Resource Forests. Take a peaceful stroll through the woods, look around, and feel the energy and healing powers of the trees and verdant nature.
Location: Aza Kareidani, Hirai, Kaiyo-cho, Kaifu-gun, Tokushima
As its name of Kaiyo suggests (in Japanese, kai refers to the sea and yo sunshine), the town is blessed with the beauty of the sea and the warmth of sunshine. Here, you can enjoy a wide range of marine sports and activities from swimming to surfing and sea kayaking. Enjoy the ocean to your heart’s content, in any and every way you like.
“There are other famous surf spots in Japan—Miyazaki, Shonan, and Chiba’s Kujukuri Beach, for example—but Kaiyo cannot be compared to anywhere else. The water here is so clean and welcoming; it’s a place that’s longed for by surfers everywhere.”
Shishikui Beach, with sands and waves that can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike, and the island of Takegashima—a favorite of intermediate and advanced surfers—are also famous for their unique topography and scenic beauty. They’re also great spots to enjoy the popular modern water sport of SUP, or stand-up paddle boarding.
There are near-limitless ways to enjoy the calm, emerald-blue waters of Kaiyo. For those looking to get close in touch with the sea, Pavilion Surf & Lodge at Shishikui Beach is an ideal destination. Here, you’ll find courses in surfing and SUP, as well as comfortable accommodation.
If you’re looking to try surfing or other marine sports during your stay in Kaiyo Town, Pavilion Surf & Lodge has you covered. With comfortable lodging facilities, refreshing showers, and more, it’s the perfect base for your ocean adventure. Choose from a variety of room types—including those for couples, families and surfing groups—depending on your purpose and the number of guests in your party. There are also special package plans that include accommodation, surfing lessons, and SUP cruising tours. Every day, two surfing classes are held—one in the morning and one in the afternoon—for all levels from beginner to advanced, and even lessons for professionals. If you’re looking to relax, why not try a serene excursion on a stand-up paddleboard through the beautiful waters of Muroto Anan Coast National Park? Three tours are offered per day. You’ll also find day spa facilities, a convenience store, and various free services within walking distance.
Gazing out at the splendor of the blue waters while enjoying your favorite marine activities is sure to make for a memorable stay in this idyllic ocean paradise.
Location: 215-1 Aza Matsubara, Shishikuiura, Kaiyo-cho, Kaifu-gun, Tokushima
Tokushima Prefecture is the largest producer of indigo in Japan. The deep and beautiful indigo color has fascinated the world since ancient time, and continues to do so today. “in Between Blues” is an indigo dyeing studio produced by Mr. Reki Nagahara, who practices traditional natural indigo dyeing culture while exploring new and modern approaches. Visit the studio and create a blue color all your own by adding natural raw materials as such lye and shell ash into the indigo dyeing process—all while looking out on the majestic blue of the Pacific Ocean under the beautiful sky (reservation required; participation fee from 3,500 yen). After trying your hand at indigo dyeing, treat yourself to refreshments at the cozy café space. The original indigo-based menu—including indigo seed tea (450 yen) and indigo seed scones (300 yen)—is not to be missed. Indigo originally came to Japan from China as a medicinal herb, but few people know that indigo seeds and leaves can be consumed—why not give it a try? You’ll also find original indigo baby clothes, masks, and other products handcrafted with loving care and in collaboration with nature on display and available for purchase at the ”in Between Blues” shop.
Immerse yourself in the rich culture of natural indigo, and the hues of sky and sea, and commune with Mother Nature in a world of blue.
Location: 216-3 Aza Matsubara, Shishikuiura, Kaiyo-cho, Kaifu-gun, Tokushima
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Airport: Tokushima Airport