To really experience Awaji, I recommend visiting Onokoro-jima Shrine, which is the fabled origin of the gods that created the Japanese archipelago: Izanagi and Izanami. It’s a rather diminutive shrine, except for the gigantic torii gate that forms its entrance.
It’s a complicated story, how the male Izanagi and the female Izanami gave birth to the archipelago, so I recommend reading a short summary before going in order to realize the significance. I thought the shrine itself was rather small, despite its significance in Japanese mythology. However, upon thinking about the complexity of Japanese mythology and its array of characters and other locations, I came to appreciate that national sites like Onokoro-jima Shrine are scattered all across Japan. In short, even the smallest, most average-looking shrine could contain national significance.
To grab a bite (and a whole lot of souvenirs), I headed out to Michi no Eki Uzushio (Whirlpool Road Station). The facility offers a stunning view of the Tokushima Prefecture and the Naruto Strait (famed for its giant whirlpools depending on the tide), and you can enjoy an Awaji burger or a reasonable priced Japanese-style set meal there.
I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t see the whirlpools from Michi no Eki Uzushio (they’re apparently best viewed from whirlpool cruises). That said, the view is expansive, with a plethora of small details ranging from boats to the hills of Tokushima Prefecture, to the white currents of the Naruto Strait.
After staring outward for a while, I recommend getting a Japanese-style meal or Awaji burger (500 yen), Japan’s top burger this year, beating out the Sasebo Burger from Nagasaki Prefecture. It tasted just as good or better than the burgers back in America, but also had a unique giant onion ring and sliced beef (rather than the traditional beef patty). The fried onion made a crunchy contrast to the tender beef, and I would definitely enjoy another opportunity to eat the Awaji burger.
Because of its location of the southern tip of Awaji Island, Michi no Eki Uzushio can take awhile to get to, but if you want to remember your time there, and if commercialism’s your thing, local pastries, onions, sauces, and more are available for purchase in the souvenir shop.