Awaji Island – Fun and Beautiful Scenery on Onion Island
Awaji Island, located just south of Kobe in Hyogo prefecture is worth putting on your itinerary if you visit Kansai. It’s connected to Honshu—Japan’s main island—by the nearly 4km long Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge. At this length, it makes it the longest suspension bridge in the world. Incidentally, there are tours to the top of the bridge, but spots are limited so they have to be booked in advance. From an elevation of roughly 300 meters, you can get a spectacular aerial view of the traffic below, Kobe, Awaji, and the endless sea beyond. But it’s not for the faint of heart, so if you have a fear of heights, be warned.
A recommended first stop after you cross the bridge is Matsuhoankareiji Park. It’s a nice rest area that offers a great view of Akashi-Kaikyo from below so you can get a feel for the magnitude of its construction. You can also see Kobe across the water while you enjoy a meal from one of the restaurants there. I recommend the sashimi donburi, it’s very delicious and in some ways helps to enhance the view.
Further down the highway is another service area—that’s one of the things to be loved about traveling around Japan, the service areas. As well as having the usual souvenir shops and restaurants, this one also has Awaji dai kanran-sha or The Awaji Ferris Wheel. It stands 65 meters high but the elevation of the island puts it at about 135 meters above sea level. Unlike your typical carnival attraction ride however, this wheel takes approximately 12 minutes to complete a full rotation. With its size and slow revolution, it provides another great vantage point to marvel at the harbor across the way, the island, and the expanding sea. But again, if heights make you squeamish, you can still enjoy a scenic view of the coastal highway and ocean from ground level.
There are of course beautiful sandy beaches on the island like Keino Matsubara Beach or Ohama Beach or if you prefer seaside parks like Okazaki or Tsukimigaoka Seaside Park. But in all honesty, there are many other peaceful and interesting places where you can sit and listen to the surf roll onto the rocks or sand.
Apart from the bridge, the Ferris wheel, and the beaches, Awaji is also famous for its onions. Yes…everyone in Kansai, and maybe even all of Japan know of the sweet onions that are grown there, and what better place to savor them than Awajishima Onion Kitchen. It’s a little far, being located near the opposite end of the island, but it’s highly recommended because it’s more than just a restaurant. There are enjoyable activities for both children and adults alike, for example you can browse the souvenir shop or spend a little educational time at the Uzushio Science Museum. From its lookout point, you can also get a fantastic view, of Onaruto Bridge and Shikoku. As you can see, it’s quite easy to spend a fun day exploring this island just south of Kobe.
Read More: For more fun things on Awaji Island