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Awaji Island: Top 15 Things to Do, Access Information, and Area Guide

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Awaji Island, located in the Seto Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku, is a hidden gem of Japan known for its scenic beauty, cultural sites, and delicious cuisine. We will introduce you to the top 15 places to visit on this wonderful island.

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Awaji Island: A Quick Escape Just 45 Minutes from Kobe and 90 Minutes from Osaka!

The Majestic Akashi Kaikyo Bridge<br>
The Majestic Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Getting to Awaji Island might seem difficult, but it's actually quite straightforward. Located just about an hour from Kobe and an hour and a half from Osaka, it's easily accessible from major cities. Most routes will take you to Sannomiya (Kobe) first, where you can catch direct transportation to Awaji Island.

No matter where you are from, there are 2 ways to reach Awaji Island.

1) One convenient and fast option is using the Kita-Awaji Nishi-Kaigan Line , which runs directly from Sannomiya to the island's popular facilities, such as Zenbo Seinei, the anime theme park Nijigen no Mori, the HELLO KITTY facilities, and more.

A Guide to Kita-Awaji Nishi Kaigan Bus

2) However, if the schedule does not fit your timetable, here's another option. From Sannomiya, you can transfer at Awaji Interchange (IC) , a popular transportation hub on Awaji Island, before reaching all the popular facilities on Awaji Island using a free Shuttle bus!

Access to Awaji Island (using the second option - transfer via Awaji Interchange (IC)<br>
Access to Awaji Island (using the second option - transfer via Awaji Interchange (IC)

We think that the 1) first option is faster and more convenient , but the 2) second option is also accessible, especially with the free shuttle buses . In case you are using the second option and transferring at Awaji IC, check the article below for more details.

Free Shuttle Bus on Awaji Island

If this seems a bit too confusing and you simply just want to know how to get to Awaji Island from where you are right now , don't worry! We'll guide you on how to reach Awaji Island from Osaka or even Tokyo.

From Osaka to Awaji Island (Namba, Umeda, Kansai International Airport)

JR Osaka Station<br>
JR Osaka Station

OsakaSannomiya (Kobe)Popular Facilities on Awaji Island

To reach Awaji Island from Osaka's Umeda or Namba areas, the journey involves first traveling to Sannomiya, the central transportation hub in Kobe. From Umeda, take the JR Rapid Tokaido Sanyo Line directly from JR Osaka Station to JR Sannomiya Station.

If you're starting from the Namba area, the easiest route is to use the Hanshin Namba Line departing from Osaka-Namba Station (platform 3) and travel to Kobe-Sannomiya Station.

It's likely that if you're arriving at KIX, you'll take the express bus to Sannomiya Station. A one-way ticket from KIX to Sannomiya costs 2,200 yen.

Once you've arrived at Sannomiya in Kobe, the next step is to journey to Awaji Island. We highly recommend taking the Awaji Resort Bus – Kita-Awaji Nishi-Kaigan Line.

This direct bus service covers Awaji Island's popular destinations along its stunning West Coast. You can visit attractions like the anime theme park Nijigen no Mori, Zenbo Seinei, HELLO KITTY facilities, and more.

From Tokyo to Awaji Island

Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Kobe<br>
Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Kobe

TokyoKobe AirportSannomiya (Kobe)Popular Facilities on Awaji Island

While Tokyo is a bit farther from Awaji Island, it remains highly accessible. One way is to fly to Kobe Airport. Upon arrival, take the 340-yen Portliner from Kobe Airport Station to Kobe-Sannomiya Station. From there, you can take the Awaji Resort Bus – Kita-Awaji Nishi-Kaigan Line directly to the popular facilities on Awaji Island.

TokyoShin-KobeAwaji ICPopular Facilities

One of the designs of the free shuttle bus from Awaji Interchange (IC)<br>
One of the designs of the free shuttle bus from Awaji Interchange (IC)

If traveling by Shinkansen, you'll arrive at Shin-Kobe Station. From there, you can catch a direct bus to Awaji IC. Once at Awaji IC, a free shuttle bus conveniently connects you to many of the island's popular attractions along the picturesque West coast.

For additional bus options and detailed access information to Awaji Island, please visit the link below.

Access Awaji Island

Awaji Island is Japan's Hidden Gem You Need to Explore

Yumebutai - A popular area on Awaji Island known for its architecture<br>
Yumebutai - A popular area on Awaji Island known for its architecture

Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are well-known and popular destinations, offering fantastic experiences. But what if you could have a similarly amazing experience without the crowds? Awaji Island is the answer. This hidden gem in Japan is beloved by locals but still remains relatively unknown among foreigners.

It has a unique blend of rural charm with stunning natural beauty, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. According to historical records, it's even considered Japan's first-ever island.

In contrast to its countryside charm, recent revitalization efforts have introduced modern and exciting tourist attractions. From an anime theme park and Hello Kitty facilities to serene Zen meditation spots and diverse dining experiences, Awaji Island caters to everyone!

15 Must-visit Places on Awaji Island

Get ready as we introduce you to the 15 must-do activities on Awaji Island based on different interests of pop-culture, history, nature, and food!

Awaji Island: The Getaway for Japan's Pop Culture Enthusiasts

Awaji Island stands as a hub for Japan's pop culture enthusiasts, offering a range of attractions from anime theme parks to Hello Kitty-themed restaurants and more. Let's explore more into some of these exciting destinations!

1) Nijigen no Mori - Visit Japan's Most Exciting Anime Theme Park

Godzilla Attraction at the anime theme park Nijigen no Mori<br>
Godzilla Attraction at the anime theme park Nijigen no Mori

If you're into anime, manga, or Japanese pop culture, Nijigen no Mori should definitely be on your must-visit list. As one of Japan's few anime parks theme, it offers immersive experiences with popular franchises like Naruto, Shin-chan, Godzilla, Dragon Quest, and more.

The Iconic Hokage Rock at Nijigen no Mori<br>
The Iconic Hokage Rock at Nijigen no Mori

Picture yourself training as a ninja, embarking on thrilling RPG adventures, or even entering Godzilla's mouth. These are the unique experiences you can only do at Nijigen no Mori on Awaji Island.

  ©岸本斉史 スコット/集英社・テレビ東京・ぴえろ
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2) HELLO KITTY SHOW BOX - Meet The Iconic Hello Kitty on Awaji Island

Hello Kitty Dance Performances<br>
Hello Kitty Dance Performances

At HELLO KITTY SHOW BOX on Awaji Island, you can uniquely meet the iconic character. This beloved attraction features a café show experience where you can enjoy adorable Hello Kitty-themed food alongside captivating jazz performances.

The live music and dance showcase includes Hello Kitty herself, making for a delightful show that appeals to both children and adults alike. Additionally, visitors can explore a shop offering Sanrio-limited merchandise you can only find on Awaji Island.


3) HELLO KITTY SMILE - Enter the Adorable World of Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty Theme Park on Awaji Island<br>
Hello Kitty Theme Park on Awaji Island

If HELLO KITTY SHOW BOX adopts the theater restaurant concept, then HELLO KITTY SMILE offers a charming theme park experience blending media art, delightful dining, and breathtaking sea views. The on-site restaurant presents a variety of culinary delights, ranging from authentic Chinese cuisine to flavorful one-pot courses.

A standout feature is the mesmerizing "Palace of the Dragon Princess" projection-mapping area, where you can go on an enchanting adventure inspired by a Japanese fairy tale, guided by Hello Kitty (though not in person).

© 2024 SANRIO CO., LTD. APPROVAL NO. L650085

HELLO KITTY SMILE Restaurant Reservation

Healing in the Beautiful Nature of Awaji Island

Feeling worn out after exploring the exciting Nijigen no Mori and Hello Kitty facilities? No worries! Let's discover some fantastic destinations amidst the beauty of Awaji Island where you can unwind and recharge.

4) Zenbo Seinei – A Journey to Find Inner Peace and ZEN

Zenbo Seinei on Awaji Island is a ZEN meditation facility envisioned by the renowned architect Shigeru Ban. Showcasing his innovative use of Japanese Cedarwood and sustainable design principles, it features a remarkable 100-meter-long deck offering a 360° panoramic view of the natural beauty of Awaji Island.

At Zenbo Seinei, you can join in a variety of activities aimed at cultivating inner peace. Meditation sessions provide a space for mindfulness and tranquility, while the Zen tea ceremony offers a profound experience of Japanese culture. You can also engage in Zen calligraphy for self -expression and reflection, using brush and ink.

Additionally, Zenbo Cuisine allows you to savor healthy but delicious dishes crafted from Awaji Island's finest natural ingredients.

5) Naruto Whirlpool – Surreal Natural Phenomena Only on Awaji Island

The Naruto Whirlpools are awe-inspiring tidal phenomena, created by the interaction of ocean currents and lunar gravitational pull. These powerful whirlpools can reach up to 20 meters in diameter and speeds of 15 km/hour as tides shift large volumes of water through the strait .

While visible from the Uzushio Rest Area and Onaruto Bridge, the best views are experienced up close on a cruise from Awaji Island. This is highly recommended for nature enthusiasts and those seeking unique experiences.

Check Out Our Experience Visiting the Naruto Whirlpools!

6) Awaji Hanasajiki – A Beautiful Floral Paradise

Awaji Hanasajiki on Awaji Island is a hidden gem, captivating visitors with its stunning flower fields and serene atmosphere. This picturesque park features a diverse array of flowers such as tulips, roses, and sunflowers, meticulously arranged to create intricate patterns and designs.

In spring, the landscape bursts with golden canola flowers and vibrant Iceland poppies. Summer brings the delicate spider flowers swaying in the breeze and the iconic sunflowers adding cheerful energy. As fall sets in, scarlet sage and mealycup sage offer a tranquil backdrop with their rich hues.

Awaji Hanasajiki is a flower park that offers enjoyment throughout all four seasons in Japan.

More Details About Awaji Hanasajiki

7) Grand Chariot – A Luxurious Glamping Experience Under the Starry Skies

GRAND CHARIOT's Unique Cocoon Rooms<br>
GRAND CHARIOT's Unique Cocoon Rooms

Imagine a romantic camping getaway where you stay in a cozy, private room, enjoying the best of glamping amidst breathtaking surroundings. As night falls, you gaze at the twinkling stars, immersed in the serene stillness of the night.

GRAND CHARIOT, the perfect place to enjoy Awaji Island's nature while looking the views of Kobe and Osaka<br>
GRAND CHARIOT, the perfect place to enjoy Awaji Island's nature while looking the views of Kobe and Osaka

Grand Chariot on Awaji Island offers this captivating glamping experience, seamlessly blending local charm with 5-star luxury. The unique "Cocoon" rooms are perfect for glamping, featuring skylights over 5 meters high that create a natural planetarium, allowing guests to marvel at the starry skies at night.

Awaji Island: A Reflection of Japan's Rich Historical Heritage

Nature is indeed captivating, but have you considered exploring Japan's rich history? Awaji Island holds a unique distinction, it is believed to be the first-ever island to emerge in Japan's ancient mythology. According to legend, the gods Izanagi and Izanami stirred the turbulent sea ​​with a divine spear.

A drop of salty water from the tip of the spear dripped down, forming land—Awaji Island itself. This mythical origin imbues Awaji Island with profound historical significance, evident in its many revered historical sites waiting to be discovered. Let's explore some of them together !

8) Ningyo Jōruri - Awaji Island's Priceless Puppet Theater Experience

Awaji Island's Legacy, Ningyo Joruri<br>
Awaji Island's Legacy, Ningyo Joruri

Puppet performances offer a mesmerizing window into Japan's cultural heritage. Awaji Island Ningyo Jōruri brings ancient tales to life through the art of puppetry, showcasing a talented troupe that presents a diverse array of plays with new stories each month.

Operating a single puppet involves synchronized expertise among three puppeteers: one for the head and right arm, another for the left arm, and a third for the legs and feet. The wooden puppets' movements and interactions with the audience create a striking illusion of living beings, making the experience truly enchanting.

With compelling storylines, remarkable puppetry skills, opportunities for audience participation, and insights into backstage operations, Ningyo Jōruri puppetry offers one of the most exceptional cultural experiences not only on Awaji Island but also in Japan.

9) Izanagi Shrine – One of the Oldest Shrines in Japan

Izanagi-jingu Shrine holds profound spiritual significance in Japanese mythology and Shinto beliefs. According to ancient texts like the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, Awaji Island is the first island to exist in Japan created by the Gods Izanagi and Izanami.

A ceremony at Izanagi-jingu Shrine, one of the oldest shrines in Japan.<br>
A ceremony at Izanagi-jingu Shrine, one of the oldest shrines in Japan.

Izanagi-jingu Shrine stands as a testament to this myth, revered as one of Japan's oldest Shinto shrines where Izanagi no Mikoto spent his final days after fulfilling his divine duties. Beyond its mythical roots, the shrine is a revered site of worship and reflection, cherished for centuries.

Its serene surroundings and traditional Shinto architecture offers visitors a peaceful atmosphere to connect with spirituality and experience the essence of Japanese heritage. Izanagi-jingu Shrine invites exploration into Japan's rich folklore and cultural traditions, serving as a cultural landmark that resonates with both history and spirituality on Awaji Island.

Izanagi Shrine

10) Nushima – The Story Behind the Birth of Japan

Let's learn more about the history of Japan and Awaji Island! As it was briefly mentioned above, one of Japan's enduring myths tells of the gods Izanagi and Izanami stirring the chaotic sea with a divine spear, causing the sea to coalesce into an island.

This island later expanded to become Japan. This mythical island, known as "Onokoro Island", is believed to be Nushima, a small island in the southern region of Awaji Island.

Shaped like the ancient crescent-shaped Japanese beads known as magatama, Nushima is home to legendary sites such as Onogoro Shrine and Kamitategami Iwa (Rising and Forming Sacred Creation Rock of Shinto).

For those interested in the mythological origins of Japan, a visit to Nushima offers a fascinating journey into the stories and sites that mark the birth of Japan.

Awaji Island, the "Land of Food"

Did you know that Awaji Island has long been celebrated as the "Land of Food"? Historically, it supplied essential food ingredients to the Imperial Court, underscoring its significance in Japan's culinary heritage.

With a self-sufficiency rate exceeding 100% in food production, Awaji Island takes immense pride in its agricultural prowess and abundant seafood resources.

11) Aman no Shoutaku – Try Awaji Island’s Unique “Pirate Cuisine”

Awaji Island's Famous Pirate Cuisine<br>
Awaji Island's Famous Pirate Cuisine

Aman no Shokutaku offers two floors of dining experience, and the first floor, Utage, is popular for its pirate cuisine, a culinary tradition deeply ingrained in Awaji Island's rich heritage. As the potential birthplace of Japan, Awaji Island holds a special significance, and pirate cuisine is celebrated as a true representation of authentic Japanese culinary traditions.

One standout dish at Aman no Shokutaku is the unique "Awaji Chicken Sanzokuyaki", featuring sansho pepper, soy sauce, and slow-grilled chicken to perfection with a special sauce. Another favorite is the "Awaji Island Whole Mackerel Kaizokuyaki", showcasing a whole mackerel prepared in the pirate style.

Unique sushi platter at Aman<br>
Unique sushi platter at Aman

Additionally, their sushi plates are also recommended, offering generous portions of fresh seafood in traditional pirate-themed presentations.

Aman Shokutaku Reservation

12) miele – Try Bizarre Food While Looking at the Stunning Views of the Ocean

Awaji Whitebait Bowl<br>
Awaji Whitebait Bowl

miele is a trendy café on Awaji Island known for its stunning ocean views, particularly popular during sunset, a highlight of Awaji Island's reputation as one of Japan's best sunset spots. However, it's the food that truly captures global attention here.

The standout dish is the unlimited whitebait topping pizza, where staff continuously add whitebait until you signal to stop, ensuring a generous and delightful topping experience.

Fresh Cream Honey Pizza at Miele<br>
Fresh Cream Honey Pizza at Miele

Dessert pizzas are another hit, varying with the seasons. Imagine trying matcha pizza, mont blanc pizza, or strawberry pizza, unconventional yet surprisingly delicious creations.

13) Haru San San – Eco-friendly Restaurant Using Awaji Island's Local Ingredients

All the dishes use Awaji Island's local ingredients<br>
All the dishes use Awaji Island's local ingredients

Designed by the world-renowned architect Shigeru Ban, this restaurant epitomizes sustainability with its thatched roof supported by pillars made of paper tubes.

Haru San San interior, designed by Shigeru Ban<br>
Haru San San interior, designed by Shigeru Ban

Chef Nobuaki Fushiki, an expert in fermented cuisine, collaborates with Masayuki Okuda, one of the "World's Top 1000 Chefs," to create dishes that highlight the freshest vegetables from the surrounding farm, combined with the natural local ingredients of Awaji Island.

Haru San San Reservation

14) SEIKAIHA Aonoya – The Freshest Sushi of Awaji Island

Aonoya Gozen Set, full of classic Japanese dishes<br>
Aonoya Gozen Set, full of classic Japanese dishes

SEIKAIHA Aonoya is a renowned sushi restaurant celebrated for its fresh and simple approach to cuisine. Here, the finest seafood from Awaji Island is masterfully transformed into sushi and tempura delights, offering amazing flavors in simple dishes.

Seated on tiered counters, you'll enjoy an incredible ocean view stretching from floor to ceiling. After sunset, a projection-mapping art display presents a spectacular fireworks show against the nighttime ocean backdrop.

Aonoya Reservation

15) SEIKAIHA Koshunoya – Make Your Own Unique Blend of Sake

Vintage Sake Tasting Experience<br>
Vintage Sake Tasting Experience

Koshunoya, part of the SEIKAIHA restaurant complex, invites you to explore a world of carefully selected vintage sake, shochu, and plum wine from over 100 esteemed Japanese breweries.

Many vintage sake variations are gathered at Koshunoya on Awaji Island!<br>
Many vintage sake variations are gathered at Koshunoya on Awaji Island!

The café and bar on the second-floor offer meals made with local ingredients, perfectly paired with vintage sake chosen by a sommelier. Each sake has aged for over 10 years, providing an exquisite aroma and flavor for a truly unique dining experience. Here, you can also enjoy a unique experience of sake tasting and create your own blend of sake for a personalized touch.

Check Out Our Vintage Sake Making Experience!

Free Shuttle Bus Access Inside Awaji Island

Awaji Island's Free Shuttle Bus<br>
Awaji Island's Free Shuttle Bus

We have introduced you to access going to Awaji Island, and the most popular tourist spots. While getting to Awaji Island is relatively easy, you might wonder how to reach all the attractions mentioned above.

Another design of Awaji Island's Free Shuttle Bus<br>
Another design of Awaji Island's Free Shuttle Bus

Buses are the most common mode of transport, and fortunately, there is a free shuttle bus that travels around the West Coast of Awaji Island, stopping at many of the highlighted locations.

For more information about the free shuttle bus on Awaji Island, be sure to check the page below.

Free Shuttle Bus in Awaji Island

Written by

Awaji Island, located in the Seto Inland Sea in Hyogo Prefecture, is known for its rich history, delicious food, and beautiful nature. Just one hour from Osaka, it offers a perfect escape from the busy cities of the Kansai Region. We are here to introduce you to the beautiful spots on Awaji Island, including hotels, restaurants, events, theme parks, and much more. This account is operated mainly as a PR effort by Pasona Group.

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting. Some of our articles contain affiliate links. We kindly ask our readers to exercise careful judgement when making a purchase or booking a service online.

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