Travels Thus Far: Awaji Island

In the beginning, the surface of the Earth was without form, covered in oceans. The gods stirred this void with a spear, and drops of seawater fell back and hardened into islands. The very first island ever formed was Awajishima, and soon the rest of Japan would follow. And since this very same Awaji Island is what lies across from my city’s most famous landmark, the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, naturally it was about time that I made the pilgrimage.

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Viewed from the mythical genesis of land on Earth, Awaji boasts some of the most beautiful views I’ve seen in Japan. It is also a quiet, tranquil place, without a single train (!!!) and everything seemingly shutting down at 5 PM. My short trip included:

Izanagi Shrine

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This shrine, purported to be the first in Japan, is dedicated to Izanagi and Izanami, the two gods who stirred the seas so long ago.

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There, you can also find the lucrative cure for baldness, in the form of some weird orb thing you can rub for good hair fortune. The idea comes from the fact that kami is both the word for hair and for god/spirit. Thanks to Rika for pointing that out, and translating the stone tablet!

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The shrine itself is good for students who need help with their studies, and for couples as well. There you have it– according to the gods that created the world, the three most important things for us mortals are: studying hard, harmonious love, and great hair.

Naruto Strait

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To get it out of the way now, yes, there is a city called Naruto in Japan, in the Tokushima Prefecture. Although there may be connection between the character and this city, the city itself is not dedicated to him the way “Conan Town” is, for example. Tokushima is a prefecture of Shikoku Island, the southwest neighbor of Awaji. It is known for the whirlpools that swirl under Naruto Bridge, formed from a unique combination of the tides or something.

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“Mine!”

You can take a short hour-cruise to get up close and personal with the whirlpools. When I was a kid, I always thought that whirlpools were the equivalent of oceanic black holes, sucking ships and smashing them to smithereens with great force. That is not the case at all; the ships can sail right next to them, and whirlpools aren’t even swirling fixtures of water, they just kind of coincidentally form for a few seconds and then dissipate. It was incredibly windy that day, so that may have affected the whirliness. Either way, besides that, I also had fun feeding the seagulls, who are so bold as to eat right out of your hand.

Uzushio Science Museum

Awaji Islanders seem like they can’t decide what to commemorate harder– the whirlpools, or Awaji onions, for which the island is even more famous. The Uzushio (Whirlpool) Science Museum area was dedicated to both. The actual museum had a miniature scale model of the oceans around Awaji, complete with a machine that simulates the tide patterns.

Then, in the actual center part, onions galore: a gift shop dedicated to all things onion– soups, chips, dressing, sauces, mixes, and just plain onions. There was even a claw machine where you could try a hand at winning your very own onion. You bet there was a line for it.

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If you manage to win one, you get to keep that and get a 1.5kg (3.3 lb) bag on top of it.

Outside, a large onion overlooks the eastern Pacific. There’s onion benches, and even onion wigs to pose on them with!

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In conclusion for the curious: Awaji onions are indeed sweet and fragrant, but admittedly they aren’t MINDBLOWING or anything. The scenery, however, was.

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4 thoughts on “Travels Thus Far: Awaji Island

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