Naruto whirlpool bridge

16-17 March 2010

From Wakayama we drove via Ōsaka and Kobe and 2 huge suspension bridges to Shikoku. We checked the ferry from Wakayama city to Tokushima, but they temporarily operated fewer boats and waiting for a boat that would match our schedule, taking the boat, and driving on Shikoku would take at least as much time as driving the detour via Ōsaka and Kobe.

Apart from that... we like huge bridges ;-)

This is the Akashi bridge, which connects Kobe (on the main island Honshū) with Awaji-shima, a small island inbetween Honshū and Shikoku.

At the Akashi service area we had a break, did some shopping, bought a coffee, and enjoyed the view of this marvel of engineering.
(Here we were visited by a bird of prey, heading for our food.)

Here you can see how enormous the bridge's cables are and how is is attached to the bridge. Each colored face contains about 130 small cables!

This is asia's longest escalator (34m high, total lenght 68m) and leads to an observatory deck. We decided to walk our way down through the park, rather than taking the escalator back.

From the observation deck, you can see the second bridge we crossed: The Big Naruto bridge. This bridge connects the island of Awaji-shima with Shikoku island.

This strait is famous for its whirlpools, which are formed as a result of the tidal flows around Awaji-shima. At specific times, the flow which came from the Pacific and went counter clockwise around Awaji-shima, rivals with the flow directly from the Pacific, resulting is the whirlpools. The strength of the whirlpools depends on the strength of the tide, and thus on the position of the moon etc.

There is a special whirlpool watching promenade (paid) on the bridge, below the highway. It is called the Uzu-no-michi 渦の道 . Alternatives are going to the observatory hill (top of the long escalator), or taking a sightseeing boat.

Whirlpool time schedule: direct link [JP] or go to the Uzu-no-Michi homepage [JP] and click the menu-button "潮見表". Times in red are strongest, blue is average, black is small whirlpools. An English pamphlet about the sightseeing spots (but not the time schedule) can be downloaded from the Uzu-no-michi website [English, PDF]

We entered the whirlpool watching promenade, but long we were not sure whether the things we saw were actually whirlpools or not... According to the time schedule, they would be strongest about 10min after closing time... Surely there was a lot going on. We saw flows in both directions simultaneously, "dead spots" without any waves, turbulent flows... But were there natural whirlpools, or just effects of the bridge's pillars? As nice as on the posters and tourist pamphlets it only gets at spring tide, so I guess we have to call this our whirlpool experience.

We had decided to stay close to the bridge, and found 2 hotels very close. One was the Naruto Eddying Hotel Shichisyuen 鳴門エディングホテル七洲園 which looked fancy, but only had very expenssive rooms left, and the neighboring Ryokan Kōen Mizuno 旅館公園水野 (I can't find an official site, but see here and here). Although this ryokan didn't look like much when entering compared too its neighbor, I think the rooms were nice, with toilet and bathroom, and there was a big shared bath. And best of all, the rooms (and bathrooms!) and the shared bath all had a great bridge-view!

<< Mie & Wakayama Shikoku >>