To make my experience of Japan more complete, last week our manager Kuno-san took us on a wonderful trip to Awaji Island. According to a folklore, Awajishima is believed to be the birthplace of Japan, a beautiful hidden gem across the sea in Hyogo Prefecture.
We had to leave very early in the morning to reach Ashiya Station at 8:30 am, and then enjoyed the beautiful mountainous views in Kuno-san’s car on the way to Awajishima. We arrived at Awajishima 1 hour later, after crossing the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. Although it was raining, we could still see a breathtaking view of the sea from the bridge. I felt as if we were on our way to a different land as we drove through the endless foggy road.
Our first stop on the island was the Hokudan Earthquake Museum, where we could learn and see memories about the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 17th, 1995, just 3 days after the day I was born. The Nojima Fault is preserved within the building as a visual reminder of the earthquake disaster. In the Hokudan area, the damage was minimized thanks to close everyday communication among the local, which is a valuable lesson in disasters. As a disaster-prone country, it’s amazing how Japanese try to keep alive the memories from disasters happened in the past and convey the message for the future generations. This reminded me of the slogan at the fire station near the Gelateria in Kyoto “災害に強いまちづくり” ｰ Building a strong community against disasters.
We then had lunch at a washoku restaurant with shirasu fish and local lemon and rice beer, truly enjoyed Japanese cuisine with not only fresh tastes of seafood but also beautiful presentation of the dishes.After lunch we visited Izanagi Shrines, which is said to be the oldest shrine in the country. Having been to many shrines before but this was the first time I was taught by Komamizu-san how to wash my hands properly at the “temizuya” water pavilion.
Leaving the shrines, we went to buy some Takosenbei as omiyage for our trip, and then stopped at a cafe near the beach. We enjoyed desert and the beautiful view towards the sea.
The peaceful countryside, stunning coastal lane and the simple way of living here really made me reminiscent of my own hometown. Thank you for bringing me this experience to discover more about the beautiful nature, historic culture, and unique cuisine of Japan.