Wakayama to Tokushima, Japan

Monday 27th May 2024
We got away about 10am this morning for a walk around the Wakayama Castle. The castle gardens were beautiful with amazing sculpted trees and lovely ponds. We walked through a bridge tunnel from the garden on beautifully polished floors. We then walked around the outer path passed the back entrance to a park outside the castle, it had an amazing little playground and beside that was a locomotive exhibition.

We then headed back in to the castle via the front gate and up the stairs to the main hall. Inside was a very good museum with armour, coats of arms, samurai swords, scrolls, roof tiles, paintings and a lot more historical information. We spent a good hour or so in the museum. We then went upstairs to the top level and looked out to what we thought was a small city, we were very wrong. It was quite a large city and spread for kilometres. We met a couple from Brisbane at the top, the lady had lived in Shikoku for a year a long time ago as an exchange student. She was very impressed with our attempts at the Japanese language. She expressed how important it was to the people for us to make the effort to try and say the basic things to them. We are succeeding with that even though we always get a few giggles.

We then rushed off to move on by 12pm. Next stop Shikoku, an island directly SW that we could have caught a ferry across the Wakayama Bay, but instead we took 5 hours to drive north back to Osaka, then west and then south again. It was an adventure, the traffic was heavier with more trucks today, the directions a little trickier, a couple of errors which took us around in squares and figure eights. All and all it was a little more challenging. We crossed from the Kobe to Awaji Island over the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge. This was a very impressive sight and an engineer’s delight.

We then drove along the coast road of Awaji Island about half of its length, enjoying the views of the Osaka Bay before heading south west again to cross from Awaji Island to Shikoku on the Ōnaruto Bridge. This bridge is a 1,629m long suspension bridge spanning the Naruto Strait between Awaji Island and Shikoku. The Naruto Strait has the fastest current in Japan, and the huge volume of seawater passing through it causes whirlpools to form. The largest of these has a diameter of 3 m, making it one of the biggest in the world. Unfortunately it was raining quite heavily now and all the carparks were closed here and we were unable to get out to see the bridge and vortex more closely.

We then continued on our way via the expressway to Tokushima for the night. We only drove 222km today but it took 5 hours. A long day of driving for David, it was a little too tricky for me to drive yet. We enjoyed another ramen dinner locally, David is doing really well finding a good little ramen house each night.

Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is one of the world’s longest suspension bridges in the world, located in Akashi Strait between Kobe and Awaji Island in Hyogo Pref. The total and central span lengths are 3,911m and 1991m respectively.

Awaji Island’s vortex is the largest in the world. Below the Onaruto Bridge that connects Awaji Island and Shikoku, is one of the world’s three greatest currents, the Naruto Strait, which is pushed against it like a waterfall. The speed of the current can go as fast as 10.6 knots (about 20 km/h), which makes it the third fastest in the world.
The currents that run through the Pacific Ocean and Seto Inland Sea collide with one another here at the Naruto Strait, creating a “vortex.” Due to the effect from the shapes of the costal lines and the sea floor, the diameter of the vortex becomes approximately 30 m, which is the largest in the entire world.
The vortex roars with energy and signifies the power of the natural world.
Currently, the “Naruto Vortex” is being promoted to be registered as a World Natural Heritage site.