Awaji Island

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.

Awaji Island

Awaji Island seen from northern Shikoku.

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.

Awaji Island

The Yumebutai terrace garden.

Awaji Island

Inside the Yumebutai complex. Maybe Tadao Ando is a Batman fan?

Awaji Island

Fishing at the Yumebutai pier.

Awaji Island

Although too sunny for some…


Blooms at Hanasajiki Gardens.

Awaji Island

Enjoying the view from the hillside. Kobe city in the distance.

Awaji Island

The ubiquitous selfie stick!

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.

Awaji Island

Tidal currents in the Naruto Strait.

Awaji Island

Naruto whirlpool.

Awaji Island

Fast moving water under Onaruto Bridge.

Awaji Island

Pedestrian walkway suspended under Onaruto Bridge.

Awaji Island

Checking out the whirlpools.

Awaji Island

One of the many tourist boats that bring you up close and personal to the currents. This is the one we went on.

Awaji Island

Full house at the observation deck and at peak tide.

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