Awaji Island is an outpost of the Kansai region, located in the middle of the so called inland sea, engulfed between Honshu (Japan’s biggest Island) and Shikoku (the fourth biggest one). According to the foundational myth of Japan, Awaji was the first island of the Japanese archipelago to be created by the gods and historically it has served as an intermediary point in the inter-islands transport routes. Traditionally a predominantly rural land of farmers and traders, Awaji has become a noticeable touristic destination since the 1990s thanks to the construction of regional infrastructure megaprojects.
The initial role of Awaji in that construction boom was to provide the land used to build several artificial islands in Osaka bay, the most remarkable of them being the one in which the Kansai international airport lays today. The removal of land left an apparent scrapped slope in the eastern coast of the island leaving the question to the local government of what to do with this huge scar in the landscape. In response, a touristic project was proposed to develop a hotel resort, convention center, and massive outdoor garden. The project received the name Yumebutai, which translates as “dream’s stage”, and its design was entrusted to the Japanese master architect Tadao Ando.
This is the 3D plan of the redeveloped area, which measures around 110,000 sq. meters.
The site’s ceremonial space, “Capella di Mare” or Marine Chapel, has a cross that is formed by the filtration of light through the rooftop. If you are planning a wedding there, or just want to take a look inside, the best time to do it is at noon so you can better appreciate this feature.
Just on top of the chapel you can appreciate the bell tower and the nice seashell pond.
And just behind, the one-hundred-steps garden (Hyakudan-En).
The complex is completed by a Westin Hotel and Convention Center. As an anecdotal fact, this Hotel served as the concentration center for the English national team during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Awaji Island is not served by the national railway network, so in order to get there you must take the bus service from Kobe. The buses for Yumebutai depart either from JR Shin-Kobe or JR Sannomiya stations. The fare is ¥930 and it takes about one hour to arrive.
While being in the area, there are two other plans I would recommend. Number one is to visit the onsen house Matsuho no Sato in the northern tip of Awaji, just 15 minutes away by bus or car from Yumebutai. There you can soak into the hot spring waters while looking at the world’s longest suspension bridge. You can also taste the delicacies from Awaji farms, such as the famous onion sweets or the wagyu (Japanese beef) burger.
This is the view from the onsen at night.
And the cute package boxes of the onion sweet delicacies.
If you are willing to go a little bit further, though still it’s just one hour away by car, the other recommended plan is to visit the Naruto whirlpools, which have already been featured on Taiken Japan! Take a look to our guide to the Naruto whirpools part 1 and part 2.
Enjoy the pictures, and hopefully your upcoming trip to Awaji Island!