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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native name: 淡路島 Awaji-shima
Map of Awaji Island
Awaji Island is located in Japan
Awaji Island (Japan)
Location Seto Inland Sea
Coordinates 34°23′N 134°50′E / 34.383°N 134.833°E / 34.383; 134.833Coordinates: 34°23′N 134°50′E / 34.383°N 134.833°E / 34.383; 134.833
Area 592.17 square kilometres (228.64 sq mi)
Prefecture Hyōgo Prefecture
Population 157,000 (as of 2005)
Density 265 /km2 (690 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Japanese
Sumoto Castle
Naruto whirlpool

Awaji Island (淡路島 Awaji-shima ?) is an island in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, in the eastern part of the Seto Inland Sea between the islands of Honshū and Shikoku. The island has an area of 592.17 km².[1] As a transit between those two islands Awaji originally means "the road to Awa",[2] the historic province bordering the Shikoku side of the Naruto Strait, now part of Tokushima Prefecture.



The island is separated from Honshū by the Akashi Strait and from Shikoku by the Naruto Strait. Since April 5, 1998 it is connected to Kobe on Honshū by the Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world.[3] Since its completion the Kobe Awaji Naruto Expressway across the island has been the main eastern land link between Honshū and Shikoku. The Naruto whirlpools form in the strait between Naruto, Tokushima and Awaji.[4]

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 (野島断層保存館 ?) in the Hokudancho Earthquake Memorial Park (北淡町震災記念公園 ?) 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.[5] The Onaruto Bridge Memorial Museum (大鳴門橋記念館 Onarutokyo Kinenkan ?) and the Uzushio Science Museum (うずしお科学館 Uzushio Kagakukan ?) are located near Fukura.[6]


According to the creation myth of Shinto faith Awaji was the first of the ōyashima islands born from the two kami Izanagi and Izanami.[7] Awaji constituted a province between the 7th and the 19th century, Awaji Province, and was a part of Nankaidō. Today the island consists of three municipalities, Awaji, Sumoto and Minamiawaji.

Westin Awaji Island Hotel

The Awaji Ningyō-Jōruri, an over 500-years-old form of traditional puppet theater or ningyō-jōruri, daily performs several shows in the Awaji Ningyō-Jōruri Hall (人形浄瑠璃館 ?) in Minamiawaji, Hyōgo 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.[8]

Tadao Ando designed several structures on the island, amidst them the Hompukuji water temple (本福寺 ?)[9][10] and the Awaji Yumebutai,[11][12] both located in Awaji, Hyōgo.


Akashi-Kaikyō National Government Park
Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge


  1. ^ 本州の島面積 (Honshū no Shima Menseki) (Retrieved on July 4, 2009)
  2. ^ Martin Bermudez. "Geophysical and Seismic Analysis: Of Two Architectural Wonders". Geolabs-Hawaii Hillside Design Laboratory at the University of Hawaii School of Architecture. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  3. ^ James D. Cooper (July/August 1998). "World's Longest Suspension Bridge Opens in Japan". U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  4. ^ Keene, Donald. "Afloat on Japan's Inland Sea," New York Times Magazine. October 6, 1985.
  5. ^ Chiu Yu-tzu (28 December 2000). "What has Japan done since the Kobe earthquake?". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2009-05-04.  
  6. ^ "Awaji Island and Shodo Island". Japan National Tourist Organization. 2001. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  7. ^ Genji Shibukawa. "Japanese Creation Myth". Tales from the Kojiki. Harcourt Brace Custom Publishing. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  8. ^ Hiroko Yamamoto. "Awaji Ningyo Joruri". Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  9. ^ Flores Zanchi (September 2002). "Tadao Ando, Water Temple, Hompuki, Japan, 1989-1991". Floornature. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  10. ^ "Water Temple". Via Travel Design. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  11. ^ Kari Silloway (2004). "Awaji Yumebutai, Hyōgo, Japan". Galinsky. Retrieved 2008-03-22.  
  12. ^ "About Yumebutai". Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center. 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : East Asia : Japan : Kansai : Hyogo : Awaji Island
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

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 — the world's longest — now connects Awaji to the mainland. Oddly, despite its proximity to Shikoku, Awaji is politically a part of Honshu's Hyogo prefecture.

Get in

By plane

Highway buses connect Kobe Airport and Sumoto four times daily (two hours, ¥2000).

A highspeed ferry used to run between Sumoto and Kansai International Airport but this service stopped in 2007.

By car

The inter-island expressway will get you from Akashi to Naruto, but it isn't advised unless you're willing to part with ¥5000 in tolls. Furthermore, signage is in Japanese and may be incomprehensible to a foreigner.

By bus

A more affordable option than private cars are highway buses, which charge around ¥600 for crossing the bridge and ¥1800 for a one-way trip from Kobe to Sumoto.

By train

There are no direct train services to Awaji Island. Highway buses run directly from major train stations, such as Shin-Kobe on the shinkansen (¥1800 to Sumoto), and Osaka and Sannomiya stations on the regular JR line (¥2300 and ¥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.

By ferry

Even cheaper and more scenic, but available for the northern crossing only, are ferries that cross from Akashi to Iwaya for a mere ¥320 on the slow boat (all of 24 minutes)[1] or ¥500 for the fast boat (a zippy 13 minutes).

Get around

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.

  • Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (明石海峡大橋), [2]. Completed in 1998, this majestic bridge dwarfs the village of Iwaya below. The bridge's total length is 3,991 meters, and the main span's length of 1,991m makes it the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge is attractively lit at night.
    • To get to the bridge, take JR Kobe line from Osaka and get off at Maiko station. Here you can walk under the bridge and enter the observation deck. From the next station, Asagiri, you can walk down to the water and get a nice view over the bridge.
  • To see the Naruto whirlpools, stop at the expressway rest area at the southernmost tip of the island near the Onaruto bridge. If you have money to spare, you can take a little boat cruise to see them up close; note that whirlpools only appear when the tide is coming in or out.
  • Aside from whirlpools and burial mounds and onions, Awajishima's main claim to fame are its beaches, especially on the more sparsely settled northern coast. They're nothing spectacular by international standards, but a popular nearby summer getaway for Kansai-ites just the same, and Awajishima has many campgrounds that cater to the budget traveller.
  • There are also a number of hot springs (onsen), the best known of which are Awaji's largest town Sumoto and the mildly radioactive(!) waters of Iwaya adjacent to the northern bridge.
  • There are two buildings designed by famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando on Awaji Shima: Water Temple and Yume no Butai.
  • A section of the Nojima Fault, responsible for the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake, preserved at Nojima Fault Preservation Museum.

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 Amusement Park.


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.

  • Hamabesō (浜辺荘) is a typical quiet minshuku, at the foot of the Akashi Kaikyo bridge some 20 min on foot from Iwaya port. ¥5500 with breakfast.
  • The Went is a nice hotel and resort on the east coast. Nice rooms. Pool, spa, fine dining and other necessities.
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