Here’s another example of something awesome you can do on Awaji Island: the whirlpool tour!
Under the O-Naruto Bridge, which connects the islands of Awaji and Shikoku, the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet to cause gigantic recurring whirlpools called Naruto.
These whirlpools can be viewed from a cruise ship that departs from Awaji several times a day and sails directly below the bridge. It’s a little bit dizzying to look up and see the mast of the ship barely clearing the suspension bridge above.
Here’s the ship we took, the Kanrin Maru:
The ship is a complete replica of the original Kanrin Maru, the first screw-driven steam warship in Japan. It was built for Japan in the Netherlands. The Kanrin Maru carried the first official Japanese embassy to the US in 1860.
One other ship serves the whirlpool cruise: the Nippon Maru.
The Nippon Maru is a replica of the original Nippon Maru, which was built in 1930 in Kobe as a naval training ship by Kawasaki Shipbuilding at an incredible cost to the Japanese government at the time.
The cruise departs from Fukura Port on Awaji and takes you out on a circular route under the O-Naruto Bridge approaching the Shikoku side. The view from under the O-Naruto bridge is impressive:
Here the Seto Inland Sea meets the Pacific Ocean:
There’s lots to see inside the boat, too, including a video explaining the science behind the whirlpools and a reference room of historical photos.
They even let us onto the bridge and wear their hats! (Note: I can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to do this during your visit.)
If you’re excited by boats, bridges, and awesome natural phenomena, I recommend this tour for you. The cruise takes about an hour, and the whirlpool is at its magnificent best during the spring.
Hours: Six trips per day, 9:30 AM – 4:10 PM (varies according to weather, so be sure to inquire)
Address: Uzushio Dome Nanairo-Kan, Fukura Port, Minami-Awaji City, Hyogo, 656-0501
Website: http://http://www.uzu-shio.com/ (Japanese)
How To Get There
From Sannomiya: From the Shinki Bus Terminal (by the East Exit of JR Sannomiya Station), take the highway bus to “Fukura Bus Terminal” (90 minutes). The port is a two-minute walk from the bus terminal.