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  • Glynn

Awaji Island

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

The first island of Japan

Making your way across the Akashi Kaikyo bridge, from the main island of Honshu, is certainly impressive while riding a motorcycle. Putting you and your tiny two-wheeled machine into context against the backdrop of a four kilometre bridge. The world’s longest!

It was around 07:00AM on a weekday when I crossed. But make sure if you ever travel this route to get up early and avoid weekends! On a previous visit, the traffic I encountered on one less flowing journey (Saturday morning at about ten o’clock) was backed up to over half a bridge length and all because most of the drivers were queuing for the services exit 1km just after the bridge. I stuck to the fast lane and avoided changing lanes as drivers were clearly prioritising their own journeys.

On this trip, once I was over the bridge, I headed to the same services to take advantage of the lack of other traffic and enjoy the views from the conveniently placed Starbucks. Now I normally try to avoid these types of coffee hostelries. But as the coffee giant had bagged another great location, I just had to take advantage of the veranda and a quiet breakfast bite.

My planned journey was first to head south inland, following the 157 towards the Awaji Hanasajiki. Not expecting it to be open, it was that I just wanted to catch a view of the gardens as I passed and continued on, following a route I had previously loaded into a GPS app called CaliMoto. Now, in fairness to the app, in the past, it has taken me on some really nice twisty roads and has helped me explore new locations I wouldn’t have thought of visiting. But as we all know, the geeks out there certainly over hype their abilities in the algorithm department. So on this trip, as I attempted to navigate my planned route, every so often, the app seemed to enjoy recalculating. This also happened in this same area of Awaji Island on several other occasions, leading me down some very narrow and not frequently used tracks. Now, I certainly had the right motorcycle to traverse said byways, but as my plan was to see more of Awaji, the tall undergrowth and mainly bamboo lined tracks were not providing the scenic vistas I had hoped to photograph. The navigation had sent me clear across the northern part of the island towards the west coast.

Time to take responsibility for my direction of travel! I used the sun and my own in built compass to head east and onwards towards Hachijoji Temple. Worshipping here is thought to bring career advancement, economic prosperity, domestic safety and prosperity of descendants.

Following a short 30 minute visit, I continued on south along the 28 and cut back inland on the 469 to enjoy some gently winding roads towards Sumoto and its castle remains. Luckily, the car parks were not overly busy, and fortunately I had found some shade under a tree as the temperature climbed over 30 degrees C, accompanied by a pretty stifling humidity. A short walk up towards the castle grounds led to some very picturesque views over Osaka Bay and the solitary tower which, along with some remaining walls, certainly demanded respect due to its location and must have been a daunting sight back in the Sengoku period.

Before you leave Sumoto try not to miss visiting Ohama Beach, one of the cleanest beaches in Japan (which says something, as nearly all of Japan’s beaches maintain a very high standard). Heading along the 76 and onto a windy section skirting the tip of Awaji, which is closest to Wakayama on the other side of the bay, I dropped down to the coast, where the road opens up to become a longer stretch of asphalt stretching south west and presenting views of Nu Island.

The scent of brine, seaweed and warm asphalt greeted the nose. What is it about the smell of the sea? Maybe childhood memories of good times at the beach and lots of ice cream. Reaching the most southern point of Awaji, I then turned west, past the Fukiagehama Camping Ground (very popular with motorcyclists) and on towards the port town of Fukura. If you’ve heard of the world famous Naruto Whirlpools, between Shikoku & Awaji, then this is the place to board a boat and see them firsthand. Also, Fukura is home to the Awaji Puppet Theatre, housed in a unique building right next to the port itself.

Continuing west, I just glimpse the Onaruto bridge, which crosses over to Shikoku Island and sits above the fore mentioned whirlpools and once around the headland, I am greeted by beaches and fishing harbours. This coastline of Awaji is famous for its pebble beaches and the famous sunset line road. If you follow the 31 north at just about any point on the road, you can see the sun setting over the Seto Inland Sea. Given the right time of day and that you were courteous enough to pull off the road to enjoy a relaxing moment of serenity. I have yet to experience that view but as I intend to visit Awaji again, then booking a campsite on the west coast and organising a few beers seems to be a plan.

Keino Matsubara Beach is famous for its variety in coloured pebbles and the long spacious coastline arching its way north from Matsubara towards Torikai Fishing Port.

As I’ve nearly completed my circular navigation of the island, I must not forget to mention some of the very popular attractions lining the northern end of the 31. Hello Kitty! Have you heard of her? Well, be prepared for a kitty fest at Hello Kitty Smile. Fine dining with a view at Ocean Terrace and the Scuola Cafe a very pet friendly stop over. I’ve still to experience some of the these watering holes but I have it on good authority that they are well worth a visit when I next cross the bridge (Hello Kitty I’ll leave to the more discerning tourist).

Awaji Island is well worth a visit and I haven't even had time to mention the famous onions! Oh well! Watch out for .... Awaji II

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Aug 18, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

WOW! Very nice!

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