Awaji Island’s specialty: Shirasu (whitebait)

Hyogo Prefecture is well-known for producing the best whitebait in Japan, with Awaji Island being a popular spot for whitebait fishing at Iwaya Port along the Akashi Strait. The small and shiny whitebait caught there is often called the “jewel of the sea” as it comes from the Seto Inland Sea.

Characteristics of Awaji Island’s whitebait

Awaji Island’s whitebait is mostly young anchovy with a little young pilchard mixed in. People can fish whitebait on Awaji Island from late April until the end of November. Fishing is not allowed from December through to March, so you can’t catch or eat (fresh) whitebait during that time, so it’s best to visit from April to May when Awaji Island whitebait is fully in season.

History of Awaji Island’s whitebait

The Awaji Island Iwaya Fisheries Cooperative wanted to make their excellent whitebait stand out, so they started a project to call it “raw whitebait from Awaji Island.” Locals never had raw whitebait because it lost freshness quickly. In order to keep it fresh, they use a special method: the whitebait is quickly frozen at -40 degrees Celsius. This way, fresh whitebait from Awaji Island can be enjoyed. Now, it’s recognized as a “Hyogo Prefecture Pride Fish,” as chosen by fishermen across the country.

Nutrition of Awaji Island’s whitebait

  • Calcium

Calcium plays a crucial role in maintaining strong bones and teeth, supporting nerve function, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.

  • Protein

Protein is essential for building and repairing tissue, supporting immune function, and serving as a source of energy in the body. Fish such as whitebait contain high-quality protein with a good balance of amino acids.

  • Vitamin D

Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, promoting bone health and playing a crucial role in maintaining a strong and healthy skeletal system.

  • Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis in the body.

  • Magnesium

Magnesium is vital for muscle and nerve function, supports bone health, and is involved in numerous biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production.

Our experience with whitebait fishing on Awaji Island

We accompanied Mr. Uchira, who runs a fishing business at Ikuha Fishing Port on Awaji Island, on a whitebait fishing trip. Whitebait fishing is carried out under clear skies, and there are many fishing boats in the area, making the fishing experience very busy and exciting.

On Awaji Island, they catch whitebait using the “boat seine” method, where two boats spread nets to catch the whitebait. On busy days, it is said that fishing takes place as many as five to six times a day.

The caught whitebait is washed skillfully with water using a pump, and the fresh whitebait looks different from what we’re used to – each one is log and firm. On Awaji Island, they don’t catch a lot at once; instead, they catch a small amount and quickly deliver it to the port to keep it fresh. That’s why Awaji Island is known for producing top-notch whitebait with a focus on freshness.

After catching fresh whitebait from Awaji Island, we took it back to Ikuha Port. The moment the ship arrived at the port, a crowd of people gathered around and at first it seemed strange what was going on.

The fishermen skillfully add more and more whitebait to the case, and the crowd watches closely, checking the freshness and the quality. The price is set based on these factors. Awaji Island’s whitebait is known for its freshness, making it more expensive and exquisite compared with others.

Finally, we enjoyed a bowl of fresh whitebait from that day’s catch. We added a little Sudachi (Japanese green citrus), some sweet soy sauce from Kagoshima Prefecture called Sensho, raw egg, green onion, and ginger for flavor. It was amazing. The whitebait from Awaji Island has a unique firm texture, and when mixed with the sweet soy sauce and raw egg, it is the best whitebait bowl you could ever try. It’s incredibly delicious, and this special taste can only be experienced on Awaji Island. Please give it a try!

List of Restaurants on Awaji Island to try whitebait & raw whitebait


Shirasu pizza from Awaji Island (all-you-can-eat shirasu from Awaji Island) / 1,950 yen (tax included)

One that has gained particular fame is the shirasu pizza (also known as whitebait pizza), which is a must-try for anyone visiting this restaurant. The staff will keep pouring whitebait onto your pizza until you signal to stop, allowing you to enjoy a generous serving of this delightful ingredient.

Awaji Island kettle-fried whitebait bowl / 1,300 yen (tax included)

If you want to enjoy kettle-fried whitebait from Awaji Island, this is the place to go! Eating shirasu bowl while looking out at the beautiful sea view will be a memorable experience.

Click here if you want to know more about miele!

Name miele
Adress 785-9 Nojimahikinoura, Awaji City, Hyogo Pref. 656-1721
Tel 0799-80-2600
Operation Hours Weekdays 11:00~19:00 (L.O.18:30)
Sat., Sun, & Public Holidays 9:30~19:30 (L.O.19:00)
Closed: Tuesdays
In Aug. and Sept. it will not be closed on Tuesdays
Website https://www.miele-da-scuola.com/

Click here for details of miele


Shirasu 3-color bowl (ponzu) / 1,480 yen (tax included)

Raw Shirasu Rice Bowl / 980 yen (tax included)

A rice bowl topped with plenty of extremely fresh raw shirasu. It has a refreshing taste with ponzu sauce for raw whitebait, grated ginger, and grated sweet potato. Raw shirasu has no odor and melts in your mouth. This is a simple yet luxurious bowl that can only be enjoyed from the raw shirasu region. And what a great price.
*For a limited time only, it will end as soon as it runs out.

Raw whitebait bruschetta / 980 yen (tax included)

Italian style raw whitebait from Awaji Island. This is a recommended dish for those who want to enjoy raw whitebait from Awaji Island in ways other than bowls. The crispy grilled baguette, garlic, and cheese flavors are the perfect match for raw whitebait. It goes perfectly with alcohol, so we recommend pairing it with wine. Drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!
*For a limited time only, it will end as soon as it runs out.

Click here if you want to know more about CRAFT CIRCUS!

Click here for reservations

Address 2-2 Nojima-Hirabayashi, Awaji City, Hyogo Pref. 656-1724
Access 15 minutes by car from Awaji IC on Awaji-Kobe-Naruto Expressway. 10 minutes by car from Iwaya Port (Jenova Line Ferry).
Parking 80 spaces
Business Hours Weekdays: 10:30-20:30 (last order 19:30)
Weekends/Holidays: 9:30-20:30 (last order 19:30)
Closed Thursdays (excluding national holidays)
Tel 0799-82-1855
Website https://awajicraftcircus.com/
Reservations https://www.tablecheck.com/en/shops/craftcircus/reserve

Click here for details of CRAFT CIRCUS