|Native name: æ·¡è·¯å³¶ Awaji-shima|
Map of Awaji Island
Awaji Island (Japan)
|Location||Seto Inland Sea|
|Area||592.17 square kilometres (228.64 sq mi)|
|Population||157,000 (as of 2005)|
|Density||265 /km2 (690 /sq mi)|
Awaji Island (æ·¡è·¯å³¶ Awaji-shima ) is an island in HyÅgo Prefecture, Japan, in the eastern part of the Seto Inland Sea between the islands of HonshÅ« and Shikoku. The island has an area of 592.17 kmÂ². As a transit between those two islands Awaji originally means "the road to Awa", the historic province bordering the Shikoku side of the Naruto Strait, now part of Tokushima Prefecture.
The island is separated from HonshÅ« by the Akashi Strait and from Shikoku by the Naruto Strait. Since April 5, 1998 it is connected to Kobe on HonshÅ« by the Akashi-KaikyÅ Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. Since its completion the Kobe Awaji Naruto Expressway across the island has been the main eastern land link between HonshÅ« and Shikoku. The Naruto whirlpools form in the strait between Naruto, Tokushima and Awaji.
The Nojima fault, responsible for the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake, cuts across the island. A section of the fault was protected and turned into the Nojima Fault Preservation Museum (éå³¶æå±¤ä¿åé¤¨) in the Hokudancho Earthquake Memorial Park (åæ·¡çºéç½è¨å¿µå ¬å) to show how the movement in the ground cut across roads, hedges and other installations. Outside of this protected area the fault zone is less visible. The Onaruto Bridge Memorial Museum (å¤§é³´éæ©è¨å¿µé¤¨ Onarutokyo Kinenkan ) and the Uzushio Science Museum (ããããç§å¦é¤¨ Uzushio Kagakukan ) are located near Fukura.
According to the creation myth of Shinto faith Awaji was the first of the Åyashima islands born from the two kami Izanagi and Izanami. Awaji constituted a province between the 7th and the 19th century, Awaji Province, and was a part of NankaidÅ. Today the island consists of three municipalities, Awaji, Sumoto and Minamiawaji.
The Awaji NingyÅ-JÅruri, an over 500-years-old form of traditional puppet theater or ningyÅ-jÅruri, daily performs several shows in the Awaji NingyÅ-JÅruri Hall (äººå½¢æµç çé¤¨) in Minamiawaji, HyÅgo in the southern part of the island and is designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Japan. The Awaji puppets perform popular traditional dramas but have their origins in religious rituals.
Awaji municipality on Awaji Island
Sumoto municipality on Awaji Island
Minamiawaji municipality on Awaji Island
Awaji Island (de1;def;cf6; Awajishima in Japanese) is a not-terribly-large island - about the same size as Singapore - that marks the eastern boundary of the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Thanks to a set of new bridges and a cross-island expressway, most visitors just zip through on their way from Honshu to Shikoku.
Awajishima has some claim to being the oldest settled area in Japan; the Kojiki mentions it under the name "Onokoroshima" and burial mounds (kofun) dating back thousands of years have been found on the island. The ningyo joruri puppet theater, which has evolved into bunraku, seems to originate from Awajishima.
Awajishima made a highly unusual but brief appearance on the world stage as the epicenter of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 that killed over 6000 people. However, Awajishima was (and remains) far less built up than the suburbs of Kobe across the bay, which took the brunt of the damage. It was also the island where the England soccer team stayed during the World Cup in 2002.
The southern tip lies a mere kilometer off the coast of Shikoku, and a bridge now straddles the Naruto Strait, famed for the whirlpools that form as the tide flows in and out. Some 50 kilometers away, the northern tip is not far from the port city of Kobe on Honshu, and the immense 3.5 km Akashi Kaikyo Bridge â the world's longest â now connects Awaji to the mainland. Oddly, despite its proximity to Shikoku, Awaji is politically a part of Honshu's Hyogo prefecture.
Highway buses connect Kobe Airport and Sumoto four times daily (two hours, Â¥2000).
A highspeed ferry used to run between Sumoto and Kansai International Airport but this service stopped in 2007.
The inter-island expressway will get you from Akashi to Naruto, but it isn't advised unless you're willing to part with Â¥5000 in tolls. Furthermore, signage is in Japanese and may be incomprehensible to a foreigner.
A more affordable option than private cars are highway buses, which charge around Â¥600 for crossing the bridge and Â¥1800 for a one-way trip from Kobe to Sumoto.
There are no direct train services to Awaji Island. Highway buses run directly from major train stations, such as Shin-Kobe on the shinkansen (Â¥1800 to Sumoto), and Osaka and Sannomiya stations on the regular JR line (Â¥2300 and Â¥1800 to Sumoto, respectively). From Shin-Osaka station you must either take a local train one stop to Osaka station, or remain on the shinkansen to Shin-Kobe, to transfer to the bus.
Buses to Awaji Island are not valid with the Japan Rail Pass. Tickets can be purchased from "Midori-no-Madoguchi" locations at each station.
Even cheaper and more scenic, but available for the northern crossing only, are ferries that cross from Akashi to Iwaya for a mere Â¥320 on the slow boat (all of 24 minutes) or Â¥500 for the fast boat (a zippy 13 minutes).
Public transport is limited to very occasional buses. Unusually for Japan, there are no trains on the island. If you don't have your own set of wheels, hitchhiking is a viable option.
Very little evidence of Awaji's history remains though, and today's Awajishima is a typically Japanese densely populated but still rural area, known primarily for its onions. The current total population hovers around 150,000, and (unlike most rural areas in Japan) is slowly on the rise due to the improved connections to the mainland, and these days Awaji's most impressive structures are its bridges.
Scattered here and there are a number of herb and biwa
(loquat) farms. The southern coast, however, is essentially one
long semi-urban sprawl filled with the
stink scent of
ripening onions; the only breaks in the monotony are a fairly
hideous (but huge) concrete statue of the Buddhist deity
Kannon and the inevitable Onokoro
Awaji has a scattering of ryokan and minshuku, concentrated in the hot spring areas. There are also a number of campsites, especially on the less populated western coast.
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