If you’re travelling to Japan in 2024 and wish to see something beyond the normal tourist attractions, you should head to Awaji Island! The large but not yet well known island located near Kobe has many historical and modern day experiences to explore!
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1. Anime Theme Park Nijigen no Mori
The No. 1 tourist spot on Awaji Island is definitely Nijigen no Mori!
Inside the park, there are several different anime and pop culture attractions, all of which can be entered separately. As well as special seasonal events, there are permanent theme park attractions for Naruto, Godzilla, Dragon Quest and Crayon Shin-chan. This one-of-a-kind anime theme park has been a tourist hot spot since it opened in 2017.
Click here to read more about all the attractions inside the park and other information.
|NIJIGEN NO MORI
|2425-2 Kusumoto, Awaji City, Hyogo Pref. 656-2301
*Each attraction has a different last reception time and closing time.
2. World’s Second Longest Suspension Bridge
The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is something to behold. When it opened in 1998, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Today, it still comes in at number two, and has become a symbol of Awaji Island, not to mention a symbol of incredible Japanese engineering.
In the daytime, the magnificent white bridge set against the deep blues of sky and sea is a truly impressive sight. At night, the Bridge is lit up and shines captivatingly in various colors. It has become a very popular night view spot, and is also famous as a spot where many people stop by as the final point on their Awaji Island journey.
3. Izanagi Jingu & Birthplace of Japan Myth
A visit to the beautiful Izanagi Shrine is a must when you come to Awaji Island. This ancient shrine embodies the great deities, Izanagi-no-Mikoto and Izanami-no-Mikoto, who are said to have given birth to Japan. The establishment of Izanagi Shrine is recorded in the oldest Japanese texts, Kojiki and Nihon Shoki.
In Japanese mythology, Kuniumi (birth of the country) is an ancient and mythical story of the Japanese archipelago’s emergence and the creation of its islands. As depicted in Kojiki, the history of Japan started when the two divine beings, Izanagi and Izanami, first stood upon the ethereal floating bridge of heaven. With a sacred spear, they stirred the turbulent world, causing drops to fall and solidify into an island. This legendary land was called Onokoro Island (now Awaji) and became the origin of Japan itself.
4. Awaji Hanasajiki
Awaji Hanasajiki boasts an ever-changing display of flowers throughout the year, with varieties such as Verbenas in early June, Cleomes and sunflowers in July to early August, and Salvias in late August to October. Located on the top of a hill the views are spectacular and call for a romantic picnic on one of the many benches in the park.
Admission to the park is free, and convenient public bus stops and parking lots are available, ensuring accessibility for all. When coming by car, the car park fee is only yen 200 for the whole day. If you wish to know more, please check our article on Awaji Hanasajiki or visit the official website.
5. Awaji Yumebutai
A must-visit landmark on Awaji Island is the famous Awaji Yumebutai. Designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando, this architectural marvel is centered around the concept of “harmony between nature and humanity.”
Among the concrete halls, the “Hyakudanen” or “Garden of Hundred Steps” definitely steals the show. With the arrangement of 100 flowerbeds cascading down the mountainside in perfect squares, it is a must visit place for Instagram enthusiasts!
To read more on the history and places of Yumebutai click to see our full article on the subject.
6. Hello Kitty Land
There are two Hello Kitty-themed attractions on Awaji Island, quite close to each other on the west coast. HELLO KITTY SMILE and HELL KITTY SHOW BOX restaurants and shops both have unique Hello Kitty merchandising and foods associated with the beloved kitty character.
At HELLO KITTY SMILE, visitors can enjoy a projection mapping world inspired by the Palace of the Dragon Princess. The palace which appears in an old Japanese folk story. There are various photogenic spots where the entire wall is covered with Hello Kitty and another wall that reacts when touched.
|HELLO KITTY SMILE
|985-1 Nojimahikinoura, Awaji City, Hyogo Pref. 656-1721
|10 minutes by car from Awaji IC or Hokudan IC on Awaji-Kobe-Naruto Expressway.
|Free parking available
Sat., Sun, & Public Holidays 10:00~19:00
Please note that each restaurant/café has different operating hours.
The HELLO KITTY SHOW BOX is a fun place to enjoy shows, dining, and shopping. The restaurant’s food is all vegan and during the lunchtime show you can see the popular HELLO KITTY JAZZ BAND show with its cheerful performance and project mapping an a screen. The show changes with the season, so you can enjoy the show again and again.
|HELLO KITTY SHOW BOX
|177-5 Nojimahirabayashi, Awaji City, Hyogo Pref. 656-1724
|10 minutes by car from Awaji IC and 15 minutes from Hokudan Interchange on Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway.
|Free parking available
|12:10-13:30(Open at 11:00, Last In at 12:00)
|Café and Greetings by HELLO KITTY
|14:00-17:00 Greeting at 14:30-/16:00- Café Show and Greetings by HELLO KITTY: 14:30~ / 16:00~
7. Ningyo Joruri Traditional Puppeteering
The Awaji Puppet Theater has played a major role in the history of Japanese performing arts for five hundred years. The Awaji Ningyo Joruri is the performing art representative of Awaji Island, and it’s performed with 3-puppeteer puppets, gidayu (chanter), and a shamisen. In the golden era of ningyo joruri, the mid-Edo period, there were at least 40 troupes, and its appeal stretched to people all over Japan.
Minami Awaji City’s Awaji Puppet Theatre really does offer a window into the essence of Edo period culture!
8. Gossakai Toseki Ruins
On Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture are the remains of a hilltop village known as the Gossakai Toiseki Ruins where ironware manufacturing once flourished in the late Yayoi period roughly 1,800 to 1,900 years ago. Anyone can visit this historic site to see and touch a part of Japan’s ancient past surrounded by the island’s stunning scenery for a precious and unique experience.
Address: 1395-3 Kurodani, Awaji, Hyogo 656-1601
Phone Number: 0799-70-4217
9. Naruto Whirlpools
Occurring in the strait between the city of Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture and Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture, Naruto Whirlpools (鳴門の渦潮, Naruto no Uzushio) are one of the main tourist attractions in Awaji Island. The Naruto Whirlpools are large and powerful tidal whirlpools that are formed due to the gravitational pull of the moon and the strong ocean currents that meet in those waters.
Read our article on how to get to the cruise to see the whirlpools up close.
Awaji Island is dotted with beachside resorts, offering a plethora of attractions. Keinomatsubara Beach, known for its beautiful white sand, is one of the famous tourist spots. Another spot, Takanohama, on the west coast area of Awaji Island, selected as one of Japan’s Top 100 Sunset spots, offers a shallow and beautiful beach, making it a recommended place for swimming as well as for watching the sunset over the Seto Inland Sea. There are many other fantastic beaches to explore so if you wish to know more, click here !