A complete guide to Awaji Island! From major and hidden tourist spots to gourmet foods and souvenirs
Awaji Island, a wonderful resort area where you can enjoy beautiful flowers, an endless ocean and fresh produce grown in the abundant nature. It is a popular tourist spot among visitors from both Japan and overseas with its easy access from the Kansai region. There are so many places to introduce on this island full of entertainment. Let's get started!
Table of Contents
What is Awaji Island like?
Awaji Island is the largest of the many islands in the Seto Inland Sea.The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge or the Onaruto Bridge will take you straight to the island from Honshu and Shikoku. The island is about 590 square kilometers and stretches long from north to south, and has a population of about 130,000. Since the island has always been blessed with rich nature and many delicious ingredients, it is said to have once been a "Miketsukuni (land of loyal provisions)" that offered numerous foodstuffs to the Imperial Court. Awaji Island, where nature and people coexist in harmony, is an island that has many different ways to enjoy every season.
The 6 must-see tourist spots of Awaji Island
Awaji Island is blessed with a mild climate. There are many viewpoints of seasonal flowers and plants or a panoramic view of the Akashi Strait. Another interesting side of Awaji Island is the modern theme parks where you can have completely new nature experiences. From here, we will introduce the 6 best tourist spots on Awaji Island that you cannot miss.
1. Awaji Hanasajiki
“Awaji Hanasajiki" is a flower park where you can look over gorgeous fields of rape blossoms, poppies, cleome, cosmos, stock, and more throughout the year. This park is the best place to enjoy a panoramic view of the Akashi Strait and Osaka Bay, along with the colorful fields of seasonal flowers. The view from the observation deck inside the park is exceptionally breathtaking. At the café/restaurant "Galleri" on the second floor, you can also take in the spectacular view from their large picture windows or terrace seating.
2. Awaji Island Akashi Kaikyo National Government Park
The Akashi Kaikyo National Government Park has two locations in Awaji Island and Kobe City, and the concept of the Awaji District location is "an amusement park by the ocean. "The park has three main zones: the observation zone on the green sloped land, the cultural exchange zone with beautiful flower fields and a playground, and the coastal zone by the ocean with an open atmosphere. The most popular attraction is the beautiful flower fields. Thanks to its mild climate, you can enjoy beautiful flowers and trees every season. You can go to the restaurant to have dishes made with ingredients from Awaji or use the barbecue facility.
3. Awaji Service Area (Highway Rest Stop)
Awaji Service Area is located at the foot of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. The area offers an observation terrace and various photo spots. The mascot character of the Honshu-Shikoku expressway, Wataru, gives you a hand to help you take a nice photo with the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge as a backdrop. A Ferris wheel is set up along the outbound lane area and offers spectacular views of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Kobe City, the Akashi Strait, and Osaka Bay.
4. Nijigen no Mori
Nijigen no Mori is located in the forest of Awajishima Prefectural Park on Awaji Island. They offer an entirely new theme park experience that immerses you in a vibrant world of anime, technology, and nature. During the daytime, you can get active at the elevated obstacle course and zipline over water set up in nature. Some of the attractions can be quite thrilling! After sunset, the dark forest comes alive using the latest technology. You can walk through a magical world of beautiful light and sound. Nijigen no Mori is a facility that is enjoyable for both adults and children.
5. Honpukuji Water Temple
This temple is of the Omuro school of the Shingon sect of Buddhism built in the latter half of the Heian period (794-1185). Located atop a small hill, visitors can look out over Osaka Bay from the temple's grounds. The main temple hall, the “Water Temple,” was designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando, and it has become quite a hot topic. Natural light cascades into the main hall located under the lotus pond, creating a mysteriously beautiful atmosphere.
6. Awaji Yumebutai
Awaji Yumebutai is a facility complex designed by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando, located in the northern part of Awaji Island. The complex’s vast site spans about 28 hectares and is dotted with facilities including hotels, botanical halls, international conference halls, shops, and restaurants, and it’s even located adjacent to the government-managed National Akashi Kaikyo Park. As a whole, the area is a stunning location filled with seasonal plants and flowers. The ”Kiseki no Hoshi Botanical Museum (Miracle Planet Botanical Museum)” is one of Japan’s largest greenhouses. It is full of soothing plants and is an excellent place to take photos.
The best places to have food in Awaji Island
Awaji Island has once been a "Miketsukuni (land of loyal provisions)" that offered numerous food items to the Imperial Court. Even today, the food self-sufficiency rate is over 100%, and the island has tons of great food. From fresh seafood to Awaji Island's specialties such as Awaji beef and onions, there are so many gourmet foods we would like you to try! From here, we will introduce a careful selection of Awaji Island’s gourmet food restaurants, from classic to trendy!
1. Awaji Gochiso-kan Miketsukuni
At Awaji Gochiso-kan Miketsukuni, you can enjoy various dishes that make the best use of ingredients from the sea and mountains. Their featured dish is the Awajishima Gyudon (beef rice-bowl). It is a special Gyudon made with the finest specially selected Awaji-gyu (Awaji beef cattle), Awaji onion, and Awaji rice.
“Awaji beef” steak is made with beef that is of the highest quality amongst Awaji-gyu, and the fresh seafood dishes are also popular.
2. Awaji Island Onion Kitchen
At Awaji Island Onion Kitchen, you can enjoy local burgers made with ingredients from Awaji Island. Their signature dishes are the "Awaji Island Onion Beef Burger," which won first place in the 2013 Local Burger Grand Prix, and the "Awaji Island Onion Gratin Burger," which won second place in 2014. You can enjoy your burger while appreciating the view of the Onaruto Bridge.
3. HELLO KITTY SMILE
“HELLO KITTY SMILE” is a media art and restaurant combination on the coast of Awaji Island, featuring an eye-catching giant Hello Kitty head. You can experience the mysterious underwater world of Hello Kitty at “Otohime Dragon Palace" and choose from multiple restaurant options to enjoy food at. Otohime Dragon Palace is based on an undersea palace (ryugujo) in Japanese mythology, owned by “Otohime,” a mermaid princess. At the Otohime Dragon Palace, you may be able to meet the Otohime version of Hello Kitty! (Hello Kitty makes appearances at certain times.)
Go here to buy Awaji Island souvenirs!
As mentioned before, Awaji Island has once been a "Miketsukuni (land of loyal provisions)" and is full of delicious ingredients up to this day. Not only that, but the island also has many specialty items like “osenko ( incense sticks)" that have the highest production rate in Japan. Here, we will introduce some of our favorite places to buy Awaji Island souvenirs.
1. Sanchoku Awaji-shima “Akaiyane”
“Akaiyane (Red Roof)” is a bussan (product) center offering a collection of various carefully selected food items from Awaji island. The best part is that you can purchase fresh produce for very reasonable prices. A wide variety of products are available, such as sweets, produce, seafood, incense sticks, incense, rice, and local handicrafts.
2. Michi-no-Eki Uzushio
Michi-no-Eki Uzushio is the Michi-no-Eki (roadside station) closest to the “Naruto whirlpools.”You can sometimes witness “Naruto whirlpools” through the telescope or from the observatory. It is a great place to choose Awaji Island souvenirs from a wide variety of locally produced items. You can also enjoy Awaji gourmet foods or take pictures with the stunning view of Onaruto Bridge in the background. Overall, Michi-no Eki Uzushio” is a great place to spend some relaxing leisure time.
The best places to spend your night in Awaji Island
Since Awaji Island is a popular tourist destination, there are many luxurious hotels where you can have high-quality leisure time. You may as well stay at the most excellent hotel with the best views and food to make the best out of your trip. Here, we will introduce some of the best hotels to stay at on Awaji Island.
2. Grand Nikko Awaji
Grand Nikko Awaji is the landmark of the “Awaji Yumebutai," a popular tourist spot where you can enjoy the island's beautiful nature. From your hotel room, you will see a fantastic view of the blue ocean and Awaji Island's abundant wildlife, setting the mood for a luxurious resort experience. There are also many restaurants inside the hotel where you can have dishes made with the best locally produced Awaji Island ingredients.
- 2 Yumebutai, Awaji City, Hyogo
- Official Website
- Official Website (English)
2. Hotel New Awaji
At Hotel New Awaji, thanks to its excellent location, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Awaji Island's ocean from every room.
You can have an exceptionally luxurious time in the Japanese-style suite called "Villa Rakuen," where every room has a private open-air hots spring. There are several other hot springs, including the private open-air hot spring on the hotel's top floor, where you can overlook the spectacular view of the ocean while you are bathing.
- Komoe Beach, 20 Orodani Sumoto-shi, Hyogo Prefecture
- Official Website
- Official Website (English)
The 3 must-buy souvenirs from Awaji Island
Products made with the delicious local ingredients of Awaji Island are perfect for souvenirs. Here, we will introduce the 3 best souvenirs we chose carefully to buy if you visit Awaji Island.
1. URA “Awaji Tamanegi (Onion) Soup”
This product is a soup base using onions from Awaji Island, popular for their sweetness, softness, and freshness. The sweetness of the onions, the saltiness of the consommé, and the savory fried onion topping create perfect harmony. You can enjoy a high-quality taste instantly by just mixing the base with hot water. Another reason for this product being suitable as a souvenir is its long shelf life of one year.
2. Kitasaka Tamago “Tamago Marugoto Purin (Whole Egg Pudding)”
“Tamago Marugoto Purin" is a unique dessert with an egg's appearance but has pudding inside. It is a dessert made 100% with a fresh egg from the Kitasaka Poultry Farm on Awaji Island. Its secret is stirring the contents without cracking them and heating them at a low temperature. With the special syrup, you can eat it like pudding. This strange but delicious dessert is worth trying.
3. Nagate Choei-do “Awaji Orange Stick”
The "Awaji Orange Stick" combines "Naruto Zuke" (candied Naruto oranges), a specialty of Sumoto, Awaji Island, and bitter Belgian chocolate. Artisans carefully make each orange stick, and you will be surprised by the perfect harmony of refreshing sourness and sweetness. It has a shelf life of one month, again suitable for a souvenir.
Recommended events to attend at Awaji Island
Awaji Yumebutai Pageant of Lights and Flowers
The "Pageant of Light and Flowers" is an illumination event held every winter at Awaji Yumebutai. The main venue is the” Kiseki no Hoshi Botanical Museum (Miracle Planet Botanical Museum).” It is a greenhouse filled with plants and will light up with a 10-meter high Christmas tree and many Christmas lights.
You can also enjoy an artistic view of the large facility complex designed by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando, shining with the lights.
In this article, we have introduced a collection of recommended sightseeing spots, gourmet food, and places to stay, as well as souvenirs you should buy when sightseeing on Awaji Island. The express bus from Kobe will take you straight to Awaji Island, and getting to different places on the island is a breeze on the local buses.
If you have extra time, we recommend that you go further afield to visit Kagawa (known as the prefecture of udon noodles), Takamatsu, and Tokushima.