The Exceptional Tidal Phenomenon
Naruto Whirlpools are a natural phenomenon triggered by the encounter of the Pacific Ocean and the Seto Inland Sea, in the Naruto Strait between Shikoku and Awaji islands, during tides. This scenery, unique in Japan and rare in the world, can be observed from Onaruto-kyo bridge or from one of the ships cruising close to the sea currents.
Naruto in Japan does not only refer to the famous ninja of the eponymous manga. It is also a small city in Tokushima prefecture, located on the north-eastern coast of Shikoku Island, whose touristic fame largely spreads beyond the local limits. The town is indeed the main access to the Naruto Strait where occurs a spectacular and natural marine phenomenon called "Naruto Whirlpools" or Naruto no Uzushio in Japanese.
An oceanic turmoil unique in the world
The whirlpools appear during the tides when large amounts of water are streaming between the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and due to the unique geology of the Naruto Strait. The natural phenomenon is therefore occurs about every 6 hours. Twice a day, at specific hours, usually in the morning and in the afternoon, the whirlpools form during about 1 to 2 hours.
The tides’ magnitude has an impact on the size of the whirlpools and how quickly they appear. Spring 🌸, with its high tides, is the best season to watch the natural show, and the vortex can expand up to 20 meters in diameter and rotate at a 20 km/h speed. Therefore, Naruto Whirlpools are among the largest and fastest water maelstroms in the world. Autumn 🍁’s high tides are also a good time to sight-see the Naruto Strait.
A show to enjoy from the bridge or a ship
Make sure to check the tides hours in advance, prior to going on site. From Naruto city on Shikoku’s side, the access is easy by car 🚙 to the foot of the large Onaruto-kyo bridge. From there, 2 options are available to watch the whirlpools:
- The suspended walkway Uzu no Michi that was arranged in the structure below Onaruto bridge. The water turmoil is visible through a glass floor hanging 45 meters high and just above the most spectacular vortex, or through large bay windows spanning between the metal beams on about 450 meters long.
- Tourist ships, such as the "Wonder Naruto" or the "Aqua Eddy", have an open-air deck to bathe in the sea spray and in the noise made by the whirlpools; some even have an underwater observatory room.
Visitors are thrilled by the unusual and invigorating experience, which is a perfect tourist attraction to truly feel the power of nature. In Japanese cuisine, the Narutomaki 🍥, which seems like an allusion to the whirlpools, is a kamaboko (white fish cake) decorated by a pink spiral and served as a topping for ramen 🍜 and other hot broth dishes.
For those who would like to continue exploring Naruto city, we recommend the Otsuka Museum of Art near Naruto Park, that exhibits real-size reproductions of western artworks, or the Ryozen-ji and Gokuraku-ji temples that are the first 2 to visit on the famous 88 temples Shikoku pilgrimage.