Great Spectacle! – The World’s Largest Whirlpools in the Naruto Strait
One of the World’s Three Greatest Tidal Currents
The Naruto Strait is located between Naruto City, Tokushima, one of the prefectures on Shikoku Island, and Awaji Island and is counted as one of the world’s three greatest tidal currents along with those in the Messina Strait in Italy and the Seymour Narrows in North America. Outmatching the other two, the whirlpools generated in the Naruto Strait can be 20 meters in diameter at maximum and is said to be the world’s largest in size. The huge whirlpools appearing with a roaring sound is just spectacular! Check what times you can see strong tidal currents and experience the spectacle in Naruto! Photo: flickr.com
Access to the Naruto Strait
It is about an one hour and a half flight from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Tokushima Airport. Buses are convenient when moving from the airport and the downtown Tokushima City. Check the pamphlet by Tokushima Tourism Association(English) for more details.
Want to See a Huge Whirlpool! When’s the Best Time?
Whirlpools are generated when part of the sea surface is largely elevated by the gravity of the moon. That means you cannot see the world’s largest whirlpools every day. If you ever have a chance to visit Naruto, you sure want to see the whirlpools when they are largest in size, don’t you? Twice a month each at the times of the full moon and new moon, the gravity of the moon and that of the sun together create a multiplied effect and cause a large tidal gap, which results in rapid ocean currents.
In the Naruto Strait, the ocean currents in spring and autumn, at the time of the highest tide, can flow at the speed of 20 kilometers per hour and create large whirlpools. Especially, the period from late March to late April is said to be the best time of the year for viewing whirlpools. Make sure to check the tidal table before visiting. The table is written in Japanese but conveniently colored according to the current rapidness in order of “Fast,” “Middle” and “Slow” as follows.
– Times in Red: Fast
– Time in Blue: Middle
– Time in Black: Slow
The best viewing time lasts about 2 hours before and after each of the listed times of fast currents, 1.5 hours for middle currents and 1 hour for slow currents.
Where is the Best Point for Viewing Whirlpools?
1. Uzushio Sightseeing Ship
No other viewing points can be better than the Uzushio Sightseeing Ship, on which you can get very close to whirlpools. Whirlpools seen from the ship are just spectacular. Whirlpool observation ship service is offered by Naruto Kanko Kisen and Uzushio Kisen.
2. Uzu No Michi
Uzu No Michi is a promenade constructed under the roadway of Onaruto Bridge, which crosses over the Naruto Strait. As you walk along the promenade of about 450 meters while enjoying the ocean breeze, you will come across an observation room with a glassed floor. Looking at a huge whirlpool through the glass only 45 meters above sea level feels almost scary and overwhelming.
It’s Not Only About Whirlpools: Other Attractions in Naruto
What Naruto offers is not only whirlpools. If you ever happen to be in Naruto, there are good reasons to make a little side trip.
1. Otsuka Museum
Otsuka Museum is a very large museum exhibiting over one thousand works of art including worldly famous paintings along an exhibition space of about 4 kilometers. What makes this museum unique is that all the exhibited items are actually life-size replicas painted on ceramic boards. The Sistine Chapel in Italy is recreated perfectly in all its details here, which well showcases the amazing skills of ceramic making and painting.
2. Tai (Sea Bream) Sashimi
If you are in Naruto, you should never miss out on tai (sea bream) sashimi set meal. Not to mention shiny fresh sashimi, miso soup in the set is fabulous. Naruto is also known as a producing area of wakame seaweed, which makes an important ingredient for miso soup.
3. Naruto Onsen
You can enjoy the beautiful sunset from the window of the large public bath or the guest rooms of Naruto Onsen Hotel, which overlooks Onaruto Bridge. The exquisite view from here will blow away the fatigue from your day. It is also great to enjoy bathing in the hot spring in the morning while looking at the sunrise before the breakfast.
How do these all sound? Do you now feel like visiting Naruto, Tokushima, and looking at the world’s largest, roaring spectacle of the whirlpools from up close? Once you are in Naruto, you will surely be fascinated by the wonderful ocean scenery created by the gravity of the moon.
After enjoying the whirlpools, don’t forget to pay a visit to Otsuka Museum, where you can admire the works of art you cannot find anywhere else, delicious seafood of Naruto as well as bathing in a hot spring at the hotel overlooking Naruto Strait. Check when the best tidal time is and start off to enjoy the magnificent scenery in Naruto!