Awaji Island is located north east of Shikoku and serves as a transit area from the Honshu mainland. This sparsely populated island is known for its agriculture (onions especially), parklands, and also for being the epicenter of the great Kobe earthquake in 1995. On our Shikoku roadtrip we made a few stops on Awaji to visit its most popular attractions, including the Naruto Strait where you’ll find the fastest water currents in Japan.
Yumebutai and Hanasajiki Gardens
There are a number of public parks on Awaji, and the Yumebutai Garden is one of the most popular. Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, this modern hotel complex, conference center, and earthquake memorial is both serene and beautiful. The most striking feature is a set of 100 flower beds built into the side of the hill, with water cascading down a seemingly endless set of steps and terraces.
Close by, the Hanasajiki Gardens are bursting with colour and offer a great view of Osaka Bay.
The Naruto Strait
Located between Awaji Island and Shikoku, the Naruto Strait contains the fastest water currents in Japan, and ranks fourth worldwide. It connects the Japan Inland Sea with the Pacific Ocean, and vast amounts of tidal waters flow in and out through the narrow channel, four times a day. If you visit at the peak of the high and low tides, you can see one of the area’s most popular attractions: the Naruto whirlpools.
Special tourist boats carry you out to the fast moving waters for a close-up look, or you can take a specially-constructed pedestrian walkway suspended under the Onaruto Bridge for a birds-eye view. The whirlpools vary in size and only last a few seconds each.