Complete Guide to Visiting Naruto: a Full Line-up of Must-See Spots!

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Written by Editorial department

Naruto is known for its world-class, oversized whirlpool currents, unforgettable tourism, and delicious eats. But with so much to do there are still plenty of visitors who aren’t sure what to see on their trip.
If that’s you, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find a full overview of Naruto’s best spots to help you build a travel plan that’s custom fit to you.

Contents

What is Naruto Like?

The city of Naruto is in the northeast area of Tokushima, a prefecture on the east end of Shikoku. It’s also considered one of the gateways into Shikoku when coming from Kobe in Hyogo Pref. over on the main Honshu island via the Kobe Awaji Naruto Expressway. Across the Naruto Strait you’ll find whirlpools as large as 20 meters in the diameter. Plus, there’s an art museum with one of the biggest exhibit spaces in all of Japan, tourist spots like the 200-year old, historic brewer of Naruto’s famous sake, “Narutotai” (Naruto Red Snapper), and a local food scene with a full array of flavors to sample.

Onaruto Bridge
Onaruto Bridge

When is the Best Season to Visit Naruto?

The best season to visit, especially if you’re looking for whirlpools, is late March through late April. That being said, you can visit on the day of the full moon or the day of spring tide of any month to see the large whirlpools. You can also visit one hour before or after both low and high tide to catch the currents at a time that works for you.

Naruto’s Year-Round Climate

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Average Temperature (℃) 8.9 8.4 11.3 13.8 20.4 24.1 25.7 29.9 25.1 18.7 14.9 8.6
Average Humidity (%) 67 63 67 58 70 77 84 73 75 71 70 61
Average Precipitation (mm) 29 12 26.5 40.5 33 71.5 59.5 19 86.5 118 25 4

(as of 2020 JMA)

Recommended Outfits per Season in Naruto

  • Spring (March-May): Light jacket or sweater
  • Summer (June-Aug.): Light clothing, short sleeves.
  • Fall (Sept. – Nov.): Light jacket and/or coat
  • Winter (Dec. – Feb.): Coat, wool overalls, thick sweater or jacket.

How to get to the Naruto area.

  1. [Access from Osaka (KIX Airport) to Naruto (BUS)] KIX Airport→Highway bus (approx. 2 hr 20 min) → Kosoku Naruto Bus Stop
  2. [Access from Tokyo Station to Naruto (TRAIN)] JR Tokyo Station→Bullet Train: appx 3 hrs 20 ins→ JR Okayama Station→Marine Liner: approx. 1 hr→JR Takamatsu Station→Tokyu Uzushio: approx. 1 hr→JR Ikenotani Station→Naruto Line→ approx. 20 min. → JR Naruto Station
  3. [Access from Tokyo Station to Naruto (BUS)] JR Tokyo Station→ Highway Bus: approx. 9 hrs→ Kosoku Naruto Bus Stop
  4. [Access from Kobe to Naruto (BUS)] Sannomiya → Expressway Bus→ approx. 1 hr 20 mins → Kosoku Naruto Bus Stop
  5. [Access from Awaji Island to Naruto (BUS)] Awaji Minami IC → Awaji Kotsu Awaji/Tokushima Line: approx. 6 mins → Naruto Kouenguchi Bus Stop
  6. [Access from Tokushima to Naruto (TRAIN)] JR Tokushima Station→Naruto Line: approx. 40 mins → JR Naruto Station

Main Ways to Get Around the Naruto Area

If you are visiting primarily for the whirlpools you’ll be able to get around local spots by foot. For anything we highly recommend using a train or bus to get around.

Top 6 Must-See Spots in Naruto

Tourists are happy to know that many of the local attractions are found in one place, across Oge Island. If you do have a bit of extra time, you’re trip will be even more memorable with a quick train or bus stop to spots like the 200-year-old, historic Honke Matsuura Sake Brewery.
Below are a few spots in Naruto you won’t want to miss.

1. Onaruto Bridge

Along with the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, there is a lot of demand for people looking travel directly between the Kansai and Shikoku areas. The Naruto Strait here is an especially popular way to do so as it is one of the world’s top three destinations for naturally occurring whirlpools. Near the bridge you can find important stops like the Uzu Hill Park Onaruto Bridge Memorial Hall or Michi-no-eki Uzushio, just check out the views or treat yourself to some Awaji Island delights.

Onaruto Bridge
Onaruto Bridge

2. Uzu no Michi (Whirlpool Road) Walkway

Uzu no Michi is a 450-meter walkway above the sea, directly beneath the highway deck of Onaruto Bridge. Peer down through 45-meter high glass floors for unmatched views of the whirlpools as they swirl across the Naruto Strait. The whirlpools appear at different times each day so be sure to check beforehand. For those looking to see the whirlpools specifically, make sure to the check the peak viewing schedule on the official website.

The whirlpool currents just waiting for you to view from atop Whirlpool Road
The whirlpool currents just waiting for you to view from atop Whirlpool Road

3. Eskahill Naruto (Naruto Mountain Lookout)

Another spot to catch swooping views of Naruto Strait and the Onaruto Bridge are from Eskahill Naruto. Here you’ll find a 68-meter long, 34-meter high, world class escalator with plenty of views on your way up to the top of Naruto Mountain. The lookout deck offers full, 360-degree panoramic views for you to look over the Naruto Strait.

Larger than life, 360-degree panoramic views await you at this 90-meter high, hilltop lookout deck.
Larger than life, 360-degree panoramic views await you at this 90-meter high, hilltop lookout deck.

4. Whirlpool Sightseeing Boat

The whirlpool sightseeing boat is a perfect option for travelers who want to see a view of the world-class, giant whirlpools up close. If you visit the Kameura Tourist Port inside of Naruto Park (Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture) you’ll find two boats on standby, the large-sized cruise ship, “Wonder Naruto” and the smaller leisure boat “Aqua Eddy”. The Aqua Eddy requires advanced reservation, giving you access to the lookout glass just 1 meter above the sea with views into the underwater whirlpools as well.

“Wonder Naruto” the large sized cruise boat available to ride without reservation.
“Wonder Naruto” the large sized cruise boat available to ride without reservation.

5. Otsuka Museum of Art

This expansive art museum boasts one of the largest exhibit spaces in Japan. It’s home to a number of porcelain tiles not often found at any location around the world and famous reproductions made with care. Inside you’ll find the Sistine Hall has all but recreated the surrounding landscape at its open environment exhibit, a definite must-see on your trip.

Outside collection: Claude Monet’s Water Lilies
Outside collection: Claude Monet’s Water Lilies

6. Honke Matsuura Sake Brewing Factory

Narutotai is the prized, pure sake made in the traditional way at this 200-year old sake brewery. If you visit the brewery you can enjoy a full tour that explains the making process (advanced reservation required). Many people like the tours here for a chance to test everything during a sake tasing at the end of the tour. Take this special chance to find with sake you like the best and buy it as a souvenir.

Tokushima Prefecture’s prized sake, “Narutotai” (Red Snapper) makes for a perfect souvenir or gift.
Tokushima Prefecture’s prized sake, “Narutotai” (Red Snapper) makes for a perfect souvenir or gift.

4 Top Things to Do and Try in Naruto

Naruto is surrounded by rich, breathtaking nature. If you make it here for a visit, there are a number of out-of-the-box activities that you have to try before going home. Below you’ll find a round up of 4 activities loved by travelers to Naruto.

1. Walk the Onaruto Bridge

This walking tour takes you across the Onaruto Bridge where you can peer down over the swirling whirlpools. On this limited access tour, you’ll take a backstage path not available to regular pedestrians to see the whirlpools from directly above. The tour also includes in depth stories of how the bridge came to be and tourist tips for the nearby area.

Look down across the whirlpool currents from atop the bridge.
Look down across the whirlpool currents from atop the bridge.

2. Snap your favorite shots on this photo-tour across Naruto city.

Naruto is dotted with countless spots that will have you pulling out your camera in no time. On this photo tour, shutter bugs can enjoy a tour of Naruto’s most picturesque escapes, as shown and coached by professional photographer Kenji Miyatake. Learn the inner secrets from a photo pro and learn how to capture all the unforgettable memories of your trip.

Learn some new tricks alongside a pro and capture your favorite spots at once.
Learn some new tricks alongside a pro and capture your favorite spots at once.

3. Raft Activities

Climb aboard a retired fish-farming raft to enjoy a raft bound time of fishing and BBQing over the sea. You can use a “sabiki” flasher rig so that even novice fishermen can get set and take to the water with ease. From April on you’ll find black sea bream, snapper and sea bass. From July you can find horse mackerel and Japanese halfbeak, while in September the local yellowtail come into season. Top off your fishing with a lip-smacking BBQ over the sea. In addition to the BBQ tools and set, you can reserve meat, vegetables, and rice balls as a set to complete your meal.

The hotel offers roundtrip shuttle service so you can enjoy fishing and/or BBQing while still packing light.
The hotel offers roundtrip shuttle service so you can enjoy fishing and/or BBQing while still packing light.

4. Cycling through the Lotuses

One exclusive escape you won’t even find in guidebooks is the “Lotus Cycling Tour”, where you hop on a local rent-a-cycle bike and travel the everyday roads. Tokushima Prefecture is known for producing lotus root for across Japan, and Naruto is no exception when it comes to finding the coveted lotus paddies. Take in the serene backdrop while enjoy a few notes from your guide about the lotus roots and nature along the way. At the end of your tour you’ll find yourself at Renmaru Café, a café and restaurant that has its own lotus paddies inside.

A leisurely adventure through the lotus fields that even the guidebooks don’t know.
A leisurely adventure through the lotus fields that even the guidebooks don’t know.

6 Top Eateries to try in Naruto

There’s more to Naruto then its whirlpools! With delicious, regional fare at countless restaurants there’s plenty of irresistible local dishes in Naruto to try.
Below is around up six top eateries to try across Naruto.

1. Fresh Seafood Restaurant, Binbi-ya

The “Binbi” in this restaurant’s name comes from a local Tokushima saying about the fish being so fresh they nearly jump into your bowl. Just like the namesake, you’ll jump at how fresh and delicious the fish is. There’s thick, succulent slices of yellowtail in the “Hamachi Sashimi Teishoku” set and a full range of dishes featuring Naruto’s regional fish. Don’t forget to try the miso-soup with wakame, feature an extra deep broth derived from local, sawedged perch.

Succulent and delightfully buttery yellowtail.
Succulent and delightfully buttery yellowtail.

2. Restaurant Arashi

This famous shop boasts a seasonal lineup of fresh fish like natural Naruto Snapper and other delights caught in the sea nearby. The selection is fresh, vibrant, delicious and even easy on your wallet. If you swing by for a taste, make sure to try the Tennen Naruto Tai-Zukushi Zen set. This full course will delight your senses with natural Naruto Snapper caught in the waves of the Naruto Strait, sashimi, potted dishes and a rich soup made with sawedged perch.

The colorful sashimi platter featuring a lush variety of fresh, seasonal fish.
The colorful sashimi platter featuring a lush variety of fresh, seasonal fish.

3. Eel Restaurant, Fujisakiya

This specialty shop is serving up eel in almost everyway imaginable, including thinly grilled filets and bamboo steamed bites. They have a special method for grilling their thin eel slices into fluffy perfection. If you’re looking for a perfect sake pairing, there’s even salt-boiled stomach and simmered liver to taste. From the fresh eel to rice, fruit and more, each ingredient is sourced domestically and painstakingly selected for the utmost in flavor.

The all-popular “Una-don” Set (Pictured: the “Tokujou” super set. ※fruit and pickles vary per season)
The all-popular “Una-don” Set (Pictured: the “Tokujou” super set. ※fruit and pickles vary per season)

4. Kamaage Udon Restaurant Issho

This kamaage udon shop is a hot spot in Naruto, drawings lines to the door before it even opens. Their fresh, chewy flour noodles are made with utmost care for you to enjoy every slurp. Come for a bowl udon simmered in a broth made with 3 types of bonito flakes, dried young sardines from Ibuki island, rishiri kelp and herbs.

Your spot to try “Kamaage” udon, made to order and served piping hot.
Your spot to try “Kamaage” udon, made to order and served piping hot.

5. Renmaru Cafe

Naruto is one of Japan`s top producers of lotus root. The variety in Naruto is especially loved for its white color and crunchy texture. At Renmaru Café you can check out the lotus buzz for yourself with a full array of dishes. From “renkon udon”, featuring lotus root powder in the noodles to a bowl of curry rice topped with the crunchy goodness, there’s plenty of dishes to keep your mouth happy. Inside the café you’ll even find a small lotus pond with an extra-popular table over the water.

A café and restaurant built and around a lotus pond.
A café and restaurant built and around a lotus pond.

6. Terrace Café Ohge

This terrace café is located on the 1st floor of the seaside resort hotel, AoAwo Naruto Resort. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows you’ll enjoy a view over the ocean like none other. Everyday there’s the limited NEW! AoAwo Burger, bursting with chef-select local vegetables that’s only available to the first 10 customers. The dessert menu includes a number of sweets featuring Naruto Kintoki, perfect for a light bite or to satisfy your sweet tooth.

The perfect location for a view over the Naruto waters.
The perfect location for a view over the Naruto waters.

2 Top Shopping Picks to Visit in Naruto

Naruto is known for its regional specialties, wakame (seaweed) and lotus root. In addition, a few other popular regional souvenirs to look out for in Naruto include local sake and sweets made with Sudachi, a locally made citrus.
Below are a few recommended spot to find regional specialties and souvenirs from Naruto.

1. Naruto Bussan Kan

This building is home to an assortment of local Naruto specialities. You can even find Otani-yaki, the traditional ceramics from Naruto that make for a perfect souvenir. If you want more local tips of where to visit around Tokushima and Naruto there’s also a special pamphlet corner by the building entrance. Even for those driving by, many travelers like to stop in for the homemade gelato, with new seasonal flavors for each of the four seasons.

A local souvenir store on the first floor of Uzushio Kaikan.
A local souvenir store on the first floor of Uzushio Kaikan.

2. Daiku-no-Sato Rest stop and Souvenir Center

This michi-no-eki rest stop is located inside German Village Park, a historic site that is known for once holding the Bando POW camp during WWI. Inside of this historic building you’ll find sudachi citrus, a Tokushima regional specialty as well as other edible bites made with Naruto Kintoki. You can also shop regional processed goods and treats from famous confectioneries. If you`re feeling puckish, swing by the food corner for the snack menu featuring German beer, hot dogs made with German sausages and more.

Souvenir center found inside a building nationally registered as a tangible cultural property.
Souvenir center found inside a building nationally registered as a tangible cultural property.

Where to Stay in Naruto! 2 Hotels to Love

With all the gorgeous backdrops around Naruto, it’s no surprise that there are many resort hotels set inside the rich nature. Inside you’ll find cozy, luxe stays and delicious food celebrating the best of Naruto’s regional cuisine.
Below are two hotel stays to check out.

1. Resort Hotel Moana Coast

This exclusive, large-scale resort hotel, 10,000 square meter hotel features 16, completely private rooms. Tucked against mountain and sea you’ll lose yourself in a world of ultimate comfort. At hotel restaurant “Italian ristorante Fish born”, the menu focuses on locally grown goods, including fresh vegetables and fish sourced just steps away. Come here for Italian and French dishes with Japanese taste, paired with a delicious glass of wine.

The open air rotenburo bath, greeted with an open view of the Seto Inland Sea
The open air rotenburo bath, greeted with an open view of the Seto Inland Sea

2. Aoawo Naruto Resort

This beachfront resort sits inside of Setonaikai National Park. Both the guest rooms and hotel restaurant offer swooping views of the Naruto Strait, Pacific Ocean, endless horizon, sunrise and famous “Moon Road”, selected of 1 of 100 famous places to see the moon. You can even find a lineup of indoor and outdoor activities to try during your local stay in Naruto. Make sure to check the 5 restaurants serving the treasures of Tokushima’s mountain and sea.

A southern European style hotel resort located inside the Setonaikai National Park
A southern European style hotel resort located inside the Setonaikai National Park

2 Naruto Souvenirs to Make Anyone Smile

Tokushima is known as the biggest area for indigo dyes, known especially for its high quality “Awa Indigo”. Another regional product is Naruto Kintoki, a delicious variety of sweet potato that tastes as sweet as a fruit.
Below are a few Naruto special souvenirs that use these products.

1. STUDIO N2 “Naruto Azzurro” Japanese Tenugui Towel

These tenugui towels are handmade individually using a rich, Awa Indigo made in a propriety lye-based dye mix. The gorgeous colors will stand against your skin in luxe but easy-going hue. Indigo also has natural antibacterial and deodorizing effect, making it perfect for everyday use. At STUDIO N2 you’ll even find workshops to try on the weekends, holidays and summer holidays, allowing you a chance to get hands on with traditional indigo dyeing from Tokushima.

An authentic tenugui towel dyed with Awa Indigo.
An authentic tenugui towel dyed with Awa Indigo.

2. “Naruto Kintoki Potalette” by Tokushima Western Sweets Club IL ROSA.

Naruto Kintoki Potalette is a famous Tokushima confection featuring sweet potato and sweet sable in a single bite. Even the sable cracker itself is made with delicious Kintoki sweet potato that was bathed in the sun. Moist, rich and crunch on the end, this treat has an amazing contrasting mouthfeel that’s perfectly accented with the slightest dash of salt.

The all-time favorite “Naruto Kintoki Potalette”, available to purchase individually or in packs.
The all-time favorite “Naruto Kintoki Potalette”, available to purchase individually or in packs.

2 Events/Festivals in Naruto You Can’t Miss

No matter where you are in the prefecture, summertime in Tokushima means the “Awa Odori” dance. The headliner dance to kick them all off is a must-see, taking place in Naruto. Another event you won’t want to miss is the 200-year old historic festival celebrate Otani-yaki ceramics. Below are a few details about each event.

1. Naruto City Awa Odori & Fireworks Festival

Awa Odori, the 400-year-old, Tokushima summer tradition drawing eyes from Japan and across the world. Every summer this dance is held first in Naruto for 3 days between Aug. 9th and 11th, before being held everywhere in Tokushima Prefecture. To kick off the event, the prefecture’s largest annual fireworks display is held the night before at the the Muya Riverbed, drawing in large crowds.

The kick-off Naruto Awa Odori dance in Tokushima Prefecture.
Photos: Naruto City Uzushio Tourist Association
The kick-off Naruto Awa Odori dance in Tokushima Prefecture.
Photos: Naruto City Uzushio Tourist Association

2. Otani-yaki Pottery Fair

Many know Naruto for its heritage of “Otani-yaki” pottery. To celebrate the tradition, there’s a special event called the “Otani-yaki Pottery Fair” where you can buy Otani wares at a discount. There’s even kilns where you can try your hand at ceramics, making a tour around the local kilns a fun activity to try during festival season.

A tablespread of Otani ware ceramics featuring dishware, pots and pieces both large and small.
*Photo taken at Torinin Temple
A tablespread of Otani ware ceramics featuring dishware, pots and pieces both large and small.
*Photo taken at Torinin Temple

Overview

Above is just a sample of tips for the best tourist spots, food, souvenirs, hotels and stays. In addition to the whirlpools, Naruto is home to a famous museum, brewery and nature observation deck. To see all the unforgettable spots up close, you’ll have to come and see it for yourself.
For those of you with a little more time in your schedule, don’t miss a chance to check out Awaji Island or the city of Takamatsu in Kagawa Pref.
We hope this overview will help you narrow down your planning!