The island we could see from our hotel was Tokushima and the Onaruto bridge connects Awaji to that island. The Onaruto bridge crosses the Naruto strait, which is one of the connections between the Pacific Ocean and the Inland Sea (in between Honshu island and Shikoku island). In the picture of the Onaruto bridge taken from Tokushima, you can see a big white building (if you look closely) in between the Awaji mountains. That was our hotel.
The tide moves large amounts of water into the Inland Sea twice per day, and also removes large amounts of water twice a day. Due to the narrow strait, the water rushes through the Naruto channel at a high speed creating whirlpools. The current in the strait is the fastest in Japan and the third fastest in the world. See a quick video (not shot by me) of a Naruto whirlpool right here:
The whirlpools can be observed from ships, or from the Onaruto bridge spanning the strait, which is what we tried. There is some kind of observation walkway built under the suspension bridge, starting on the Tokushima side of the bridge and stretches until about halfway the bridge. So you’re walking under the hundreds of cars speeding across the bridge above you, and about 45 meters above the high-speed current of the Naruto strait. You wonder how we were supposed to enjoy the view of the whirlpools? Well they put observation windows in the floor everywhere… which to me seemed more like dangerous holes in the floor of a shaky bridge.
I have an extreme fear of heights and anything that doesn’t seem sturdy, so it was quite a challenge for Yasu to get me to walk across one of those holes in the floor. I know it doesn’t look like much in the picture, but in real life it is and looks really high, I mean we were 45 meters above sea level, a violent sea I might add. So Yasu was the first to try casually walking over one of those holes. He didn’t feel as casual as he tried to convince himself, but he did it pretty quickly, and soon actually felt comfortable sitting on air. Me on the other hand still chose to walk in big circles around those awful holes.
It took him a long time to convince me to step on one of the glasses covering the scary holes, but eventually I ventured on one with fear running through all of the veins of my body. Of course, I survived my little trip across the glass!
In the end I was still very nervous about standing, sitting, or walking on one of those observation windows, but it was also fascinating to see the sea from that view and I will try about anything for a good picture.
Unfortunately, we didn’t actually see any whirlpools because apparently they were pretty mild that day and too far away from the observation walkway. It was disappointing at first, but all the holes-in-the-floor-fun really made up for that!