Hiking on a nature’s wonder, The Earth Pillars of Awa

The earth pillars of Awa are often regarded as the synonymous with Awa city, Tokushima.
It’s a miraculously rare land formation of sandstone and gravel columns, created by dynamic tectonic deformation and erosion about a million years ago.
Let’s walk the hiking trails around the sand pillars to enjoy the view from the top.

The miracle landscape formed through the eternal flow of time

The miracle landscape formed through the eternal flow of time

There are some unique and rare landscapes in the world that are created only under certain meteorological and environmental conditions. You can see some of such nature’s miracles in Tokushima. One of the best-known is located in Awa, a north-western city in Tokushima.

Forty-five minutes drive from Tokushima station, the earth pillars of Awa are a truly rare land formation and undoubtedly the most popular tourism destination of the city.

Listed as one of the three rarest sand pillars in the world with the Rocky mountains in the US and Tyrol in Italy, Awa’s hoodoos have been designated as Japan’s natural monuments since 1934.

Millions of years ago, sand and gravel erosion from the Asan mountains (on the Tokushima-Kagawa border line) were deposited and upthrust by seismic activity. Parts of the upheaved land were eroded over the years and formed pillar-like shapes sticking up high from the ground.
The pillars standing closely each other look like layers of curtains, moving depending on the direction of the sunlights.
It’s an amazing art work from mother nature!

Of them all, the biggest pillar is called “Hatōgadake” (The mountain of billowing).

The most attractive and unique point of Awa’s earth pillars is the fact they are still changing their shape. Each time you come here, they are not the same.

Even within the same day, the pillars appearance constantly changes. In the afternoon, the sunlight from west adds more vivid contrast to the shadows and a dramatic atmosphere. Hatōgadake pillars look especially fantastic when they get special seasonal light-ups.

Explore the sand pillars from every directions with the circular walk

A short circular walking trail is maintained around the Hatōgadake pillars for visitors.
Starting mildly uphill, the trail goes though trees and wild plants while various birds sing to calm your mind. Some trees have name plates so that you can learn what they are.

Many national classic literature has admired these natural sculptures and you see some stone monuments with their words etched on along the trail today.

Observation decks and viewpoint rest huts are set along the route to give you different angles to see the pillars. Some say the view from west is the most beautiful but it is up to you to decide which is your favorite.

You should be able to reach the highest point of the route after walking for 20 minutes or so.
Here, you see the unlimited spread of the Yoshino plain under your feet and beyond to Mt. Kotsu, Tokushima city and Mt. Bizan. The Tsurugi mountain range cuts across the entire horizon.
The views are worth the effort.

 The View of Yoshinogawa plain
The View of Yoshinogawa plain

The highest observation point connects to the top of Hatōgadake.
Now you have an opportunity to look down at the pillars. Be cautious not to go too close to the edge.

 The high and beautiful triangular shape of Mt. Kotsu, often called “Awa-fuji (Mt. Fuji of Tokushima)”
The high and beautiful triangular shape of Mt. Kotsu, often called “Awa-fuji (Mt. Fuji of Tokushima)”

Guided tours available

If you would like to know more about the Awa earth pillars, how about walking with the experts?
The “Dochu volunteer guides team” is a group of local people who love and know the pillars and this area better than anyone else.
Over a dozen of its members are all local including a former teacher, a former city office staff, and owners of tourist hotels. One of them was geological science major at school.

Take Mr. Miki, for instance, he joined the volunteer guide team as he was so moved by the passion shared among the members to let visitors know how marvelous these big formations are in the world.
Each guide has his/her own guiding style and walking with them will give you various sights on the sand pillars.

● Booking the guided tour three days in advance is required.
● Three routes for the tour are available for you to pick.
● The guide fee is ¥500 to ¥1000 per group.
● For booking and any other inquiries, contact the volunteer guide team bureau inside the Awa city tourism association.

●The Earth Pillars of Awa
 540 Kitayama, Awacho, Awa, Tokushima

●The Dochu volunteer guides team
 Tel: 0883-35-4211

After-hike tea break at the cute and cozy “Spoon café”

South from the earth pillars of Awa, less than ten minutes drive to the area near the Yoshino river bank, Spoon Café is a cute little cottage in the middle of farmland.

A nicely tended small flower garden in their font yard greets guests.
The owners designed the café for guests to be able to feel at home and carefully picked the interior and exterior items to create the cozy atmosphere.

It is not only the building and items that look cute.
All the cakes and deserts at Spoon Café are instagram-worthy and of course taste so good. Their original “panffle” is a waffle baked with bread dough, making delicious harmony of fluffy, a bit sticky and moist.
Toppings change according to the season, trying to use locally-grown products, and never boring the guest whenever they come.

Aside from the desert menu, of course, they have various lunch dishes which will satisfy your hungry stomach.
Relaxing teatime with colorful looking deserts at this cozy cute café… a full recharge of your energy is guaranteed!

●Spoon Café
 342-9 Nakatsubo, Awacho, Awa, Tokushima Tel: 0883-35-7467