Awaji Island is located between Hyogo and Tokushima Prefectures. You can visit Awaji Island from both Kobe and Osaka. Here’s a quick guide to Awaji Island to help you plan your trip to one of the biggest islands in Japan.
Keino Matsubara Beach
If you have spare time while visiting Kyoto and Osaka, then a trip to Awaji Island is the right place to find some fine beaches on both the east and west coasts. Awaji Island is one of the major resort islands in Japan, and is just a short drive from nearby Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka by crossing the Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi bridge.One of my favorite places was Keino Matsubara Beach with a 2.5 km length white sand beach located on the south western shoreline.
On the way to my barbecue place, we visited Galerie BNAYA which was the location of Kazuaki Maekawa’s studio. No one was to be seen in the gallery at first so I called before entering. Suddenly, three people wearing protective clothing against bees came out of nowhere. I was so frightened at first but was relieved to see their smiles under the covers and to find out they were the artist and his children. Kazuaki Maekawa renovated the cow shed and barn into a gallery to display his work made by mortar and paper. You can also see the furniture made by his son.
A good friend of mine who grew up in Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture suggested I visit SeaAiga Kaigetsu for a barbecue. Sometimes, ready-made barbeques consist of dried vegetables and thin strips of meat, but SeaAiga Kaigetsu served nice local beef and seafood.Awaji Island is a part of the Kansai area which was called “world of the kitchen” in Edo Period. Kansai is famous for delicious food and people have a strict sense of taste. It used to be said if restaurants serve awful foods, people would never revisit, especially in the Kansai area. When we enjoyed SeaAiga Kaigetsu barbecue, I could see the severe standard for foods in the Kansai area. After the barbeque, you can enjoy sea activities right in front of the restaurant. Well worth a try.
Powerful whirlpools in the Naruto Strait are a highlight on Awaji Island. Naruto Strait is located between Awaji Island and the northeastern most city of Tokushima Prefecture and connects the Pacific Ocean to the Inland Seto Sea. The Naruto whirlpools swirl twice a day caused by the difference in water levels and volumes of water moving. We joined a guided boat tour for 30 minutes to see the whirlpools closely. The size was not as large as I had seen on promotional website or in booklets, but it was exciting to get right up next to the whirlpools.
Where to Stay
Awaji Island is such a beautiful natural area, so when staying here I would highly recommend a Minshuku style inn or the hotels located in front of the sea, to really get the true experience of Awaji’s nature.
Kyukamura Hotel Minami Awaji
Kyukamura Hotel is one of Japan’s hotel chains that offers a good nature experience. Kyukamura Hotel Minami Awaji has an observatory for stargazing.
Keino Matsubara-so is located on Matsubara Beach which is a great location if you prefer to be on the quieter side of the island and within walking distance to the sea.
How to get there
Get on the Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to Shin-Kobe and head to Awaji Island by rent-a-car (40 minutes). There are also Express Bus services from JR Shin-Kobe Station to Sumoto Bus Center (2 hours). Recently, it has become popular for cyclists who choose to ride around the Awaji Island. Cycles can be rented from the Tourist Information at Sumoto Bus Center. Reservations are recommended.
How long to stay
Awaji Island has an area of 595 km² and a population of 130,000. It is the largest island in the Inland Seto Sea after Shikoku Island comprising Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime and Kochi Prefectures. A one day trip from Kobe, Kyoto or Osaka is possible but 2 nights stay is perfect to enjoy beautiful flowers, well known onion cultivation and white sand beaches.