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Japan is the World’s no. 1 Destination says Condé Nast

Readers of the high end travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler have voted Japan as the ‘Best Country in the World’ and lists 24 reasons why this is true. Here we highlight how to enjoy the quintessential Japan experience right here on Awaji Island!

Japanese Food & Drink

Miketsukuni: ‘Land of Royal Provisions’

Awaji Island was once designated as Miketsukuni (one of 3 regions charged to supply high-quality produce and seafood to the imperial court) due to the island’s exceptional bounty of agricultural and marine products.

Many restaurants on Awaji celebrate this illustrious history and offer fresh, local ingredients on their menus. For example you can enjoy Awaji’s specialty fish, the ‘white bait’ (shirasu) on pizzas at miele, or savor steak even higher quality than Kobe beef at Ocean Terrace.

See the list of all the restaurants Awaji Island West Coast has to offer here!

Vintage Sake at Koshunoya

Awaji Island offers the unique experience of trying “vintage sake” and even a workshop to try making your very own. All of the rice-based liquors available have been aged more than 10 years, a process that imbues them with exquisite aroma and flavor.

Koshunoya is part of the SEIKAIHA restaurant complex on Awaji Island West Coast. The shop opens the door to a world of carefully chosen vintage sake, shochu, and plum wine sourced from over 100 carefully selected breweries and distilleries across Japan.

The café and bar on the 2nd floor, serves meals made with local ingredients paired with the perfect vintage sake recommended by the resident sommelier.

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Name SEIKAIHA – Koshunoya
Address 70 Nojima-okawa, Awaji City, Hyogo Pref. 656-1723
Tel 0799-70-9020
Website https://awaji-seikaiha.com/kosyunoya/
Reservations https://www.tablecheck.com/en/shops/awaji-seikaiha/reserve
Operation Hours 11:30~21:00 (L.O. 20:00)
Closed: Thursdays

Click here for details of SEIKAIHA – Koshunoya

Enjoy the Seasons in Peace

Sure, cherry blossoms in Kyoto are world famous, but it’s also very crowded and most parks and hanami locations offer little to no privacy. However, sakura trees can be enjoyed in a number of places, and Awaji Island is one of the most exceptional. Enjoy a private picnic here and revel in the freedom of nature away from the city crowds.

On top of a hill overlooking Osaka Bay is the vast flower field called Awaji Hanasajiki. This free outdoor flower garden is open all year around, a perfect place to snap some pictures amid a bed of blossoms.

History and Art

Birthplace of Japan

Awaji Island was the first island in Japan created by the gods Izanami and Izanagi according to the ancient Japanese text called Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. With a sacred spear, the gods stirred the turbulent world, causing drops to fall and solidify into an island. This legendary land was called Onokoro Island now known as Awaji. Numerous places on Awaji celebrate this ancient mythology.

Exceptional Architecture by Tadao Ando

One of the most remarkable architectural achievements of Tadao Ando is the awe-inspiring Yumebutai, nestled on Awaji Island’s east coast. A true testament to his vision, this complex seamlessly integrates a myriad of elements from shops and restaurants, to an international conference center, a luxury hotel, and an expansive fairytale-like greenhouse, all amidst a breathtaking natural scenery.

Awaji Yumebutai not only serves as a multi-functional complex but also stands as a poignant memorial to the victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. The heart of this space is the intricately woven network of 100 flower beds, named Hyakudanen or the “100-step garden”. Showcasing a diverse array of botanical blooms, this thoughtful garden was created “to calm the souls of those who lost their lives in the disaster”. As visitors climb these cascading garden terraces, they are rewarded with panoramic views that sweep over the mesmerizing Osaka Bay.

Yumebutai beautifully harmonizes with the surrounding landscape, and the design itself embodies a delicate balance human design and natural, a testament to Tadao Ando’s commitment to preserving and celebrating the harmony between architecture and nature.

Relaxation & Wellness

Zenbo Seinei

Zenbo Seinei from an aerial view

Zenbo Seinei is a tranquil wellness haven crafted by the renowned Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban. This wellness retreat embodies Ban’s innovative architectural vision, utilizing elements like Japanese Cedarwood to embrace the elegance of simplicity.

Zenbo Seinei features a stunning 100-meter deck offering panoramic 360° views, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the peaceful ambiance. Perfect for activities such as seated meditation (zazen), savoring the traditional Buddhist foods of Shojin Ryori cuisine, and various well-being practices, lose yourself in the natural embrace of Awaji Island’s landscape.

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Name Zenbo Seinei
Address 2594-5 Aza-Banaka, Kusumoto, Awaji City, Hyogo Pref. 656-2301
Tel 0799-70-9087
Website https://www.zenbo-seinei.com/en/
Program Reservations https://zenbo-seinei.urkt.in/direct/offices/587/courses
Hotel Reservation https://rsv.temanasi.jp/29/room/search
Operation Hours 11:00-16:00/14:30-19:30
Closed: Varies depending on a month. Please inquire.

Click here for details of ZEN Wellness SEINEI

Hot Springs

Picture from https://matsuho.com/

There are multiple hot springs (onsens) on Awaji Island to enjoy, but the most famous ones are the hilltop bath in Iwaya overlooking the famous Akashi Kaikyo Bridge – Matsuho-no-Sato and Shimahana onsen in Sumoto.

To learn good manners for a public Japanese bathhouse, check out our article on onsen etiquette.

Conclusion

Japan truly is a place of wonders and one can’t possibly see it all in one trip. However to enjoy some of the country’s highlights without the crowds, Awaji Island is a fantastic choice for those in the know. So if you’re one of the many travelers planning a trip to the land of the rising sun, be sure to keep Awaji Island at the top of your list.

For more info see our other articles on what to do on Awaji Island: