A Whirlwind Trip to Naruto Whirlpools

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When I first heard that Tokushima Prefecture was famous for its Naruto whirlpools, I instantly thought of the popular manga Naruto. Like me, most tourists may not know that Naruto, a coastal city in Shikoku, is well known for its swirling whirlpools.

The whirlpools are a natural phenomenon occurring in the narrow strait between Naruto and Awaji Island. The strait, which connects the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean, has the fastest currents in Japan, and differences in the flow of currents create tidal whirlpools.

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There are two ways to view the whirlpools. One way is to board a sightseeing cruise and experience the power of the whirlpools up close. I chose the second, budget ­conscious method and viewed the whirlpools from Uzu no Michi observatory on Onaruto Bridge.

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I reached the observatory after a 20­-minute bus ride from JR Naruto station,. The whirlpools are best viewed when the tides are highest and lowest, and I was lucky to observe them in the morning.

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Towering 45 metres above the whirlpools, the ocean promenade with glass floors offers a thrilling viewing experience. For the best view of the whirlpools I had to brave strong wind and walk to the end of the promenade.

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I was so captivated by the dramatic scene of the whirlpools right beneath my feet. The sightseeing boats looked so helpless at the swirling vortex.
The observatory is located in Naruto Park and visitors can view the whirlpools from different vantage points. Nearby attractions include the Onaruto Bridge Museum Eddy, Otsuka Museum of Art, and Ryozenji Temple, the first temple of Shikoku’s 88 Temple pilgrimage.

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This article was published in ANA Experience Japan website 2016-2018.