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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Naruto Strait 小鳴門海峡

Whirlpools!

Animated by some of the fastest moving currents in the world, the Naruto Strait is 1.3 kilometers wide and lies between the city of Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture and Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture.

When the waters of the Seto Inland Sea collide with the opposing Pacific Ocean currents in the Kii Channel at high and low tide, they create one of nature's most unique phenomena: the Naruto Whirlpools. Visitors to the Naruto Strait can watch these powerful, swirling eddies from the Onaruto Bridge, which spans the strait, or from one of the port's many sightseeing boats or viewing points.

Don't Miss

  • The glass-paneled Uzu-no-Michi Walkway, under the Onaruto Bridge
  • The Senjojiki Observatory, a great place to relax and hunt for souvenirs
  • Historic Ryozenji Temple, the first destination on a Buddhist pilgrimage
  • The nearby Otsuka Museum of Art, featuring full-scale reproductions of major art historical gems

How to Get There

From either Tokushima Station or Naruto Station, catch a local bus to Naruto Park. If you are traveling by plane from outside the region, there is a bus service available from Tokushima Awaodori Airport; the airport bus will take you to Naruto in approximately 40 minutes.

With major bridges connecting Honshu and Shikoku via Awaji Island, Naruto is accessible from the major cities in the Kansai region by bus. The bus ride from Kobe to Naruto is about 1 hour and 20 minutes; from Osaka, about 2 hours; and from Kyoto, about 2 and a half hours.

Quick Facts

The Naruto Strait has the fastest currents in Japan

The best time to see the whirlpools is low tide in spring and autumn

The whirlpools can reach up to 20 meters in diameter

The whirlpools have inspired a manga character (Naruto Uzumaki) and a style of ramen (Narutomaki)

Fast-moving flow

The Naruto Strait's narrow width and underwater topography cause the tides between the Seto Inland Sea and the Kii Channel to vary by up to 1.5 meters, as water rushes through the Strait at a speed of about 13–15 kilometers per hour. The tide is generally strongest in spring and autumn when water coursing through the strait at up to 20 km/h creates whirlpools nearly 20 meters in diameter.

Since high tide and low tide cycle about every 6 hours, the best time to see the Naruto Whirlpools will differ depending on the day and conditions, so check tide information, which is updated online, in advance.

Venture into the strait by boat

There are several ways to appreciate this incredible force of nature. One of the most popular is to board a sightseeing boat and set off to see the whirlpools from the deck, up close. Some boats even have glass panels in the hull below the water for a thrilling submariner's view of the whirlpools. The boats provide marvelous views of Naruto and the surrounding coastal scenery.

These sightseeing cruises are reasonably priced (around 2,000 yen for adults), do not require reservations and are scheduled regularly throughout the day.

View the eddies from above

Another popular option is to view the Naruto Whirlpools from overhead. Built on the lower deck of the Onaruto Bridge, which connects Tokushima to Awaji Island, the 450-meter-long Uzu-no-Michi Walkway has sturdy glass floor panels that allow you to watch the whirlpools form and spin. Suspended 45 meters above the sea, the spectacular bird's-eye view makes it easier to spot multiple whirlpools in a single glance.

Up, up and away for a panoramic view

After catching the view from above on the Onaruto Bridge, head over to the Senjojiki Observatory to admire the Bridge itself in full, as well as the magnificent natural scenery surrounding the Naruto Strait. Those so inclined can travel up the 68-meter (223 ft) escalator to the Eska Hill Naruto observation deck for a thrilling 360-degree panoramic view of the landscape.

Masterpieces for the ages at Japan's largest art museum

After taking in the untamed natural wonder of the Naruto Strait, why not make the short trip over to the Otsuka Museum of Art to appreciate some culture? With the largest exhibition space in Japan, the museum houses a vast and varied collection, including over 1,000 reproductions of historical masterpieces ranging from Michelangelo's sublime Sistine Chapel to Picasso's iconoclastic Guernica. Interestingly, these reproductions have been executed on ceramic board, so that they resist the wear and fade of time.

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