Less than 24 hours in Awaji Island

by - Thursday, June 28, 2018

It's been a long dream of mine to set foot in Japan. I was so close to visiting this beautiful country last 2017 with my officemates if it weren't for my denied visa application. While this situation broke my heart, the rose-colored in me fought for this and made it happen a year after.

Here I am now writing about the first island I've visited in the land of the rising sun. 🗾


Since this is technically my first solo trip abroad, my anxiety was at its peak. From dropping my luggage in the counter, boarding the plane, down to the immigration screening in Osaka, I can't help but overthink and let the worst situations overseas get into me.

As soon as I finished my business with the immigration officer, I hurriedly bought a ticket for the 12-noon bus trip by the vending machine just outside the airport. I knew I had to be on board at that time because the next schedule is two hours apart from this one.

Plane boarding ticket to KIX & bus receipt and baggage claim tag
Read more: First Japan winter experience: 11 travel essentials to not miss

After spending two hours on the bus, I alighted at the Sumoto Interchange where my sister picked me up. At this point, it sank into me that I am indeed in Japan already. I've immediately felt the static sensation to most of the things that I touched because of the cold weather. The quietness in the area is also deafening. The few things I hear in the background are the rare vehicles that pass by, the breeze of the air, and the birds chirping by the trees.


Because I bought some Pinoy stuff for my sister and her husband and my luggage weighs around 20 kg, we decided to take the taxi to their place. Here are the few things people should remember when riding their taxi:

1. Assume seating in the back seat of the car unless there's three of you riding; and
2. Do not touch the car handle because the backdoors will open automatically.


LUNCH TIME AT HAMAZUSHI


 
 

Hamazushi Address: 684 Kuwama, Sumoto, Hyōgo Prefecture 656-0014, Japan

I almost died because of the hunger after my five-hour travel from Manila to Awaji (plane + bus ride). After some lambing to my sister, she brought me to Hamazushi for late lunch. She recommended having our late lunch here because it is the best sushi place nearby (according to her). I'm glad to save my first sushi conveyer belt experience in this restaurant because their salmon sashimi is to die for! I now know the feeling of a fish melt in my mouth.

In case you are wondering, the touchscreen menu has an English translation for people who can't understand the name of the dishes in Japanese. Another thing that I love about this place is the friendly and accommodating staff of the resto.

Because this was a treat from my sister, I have no idea of the specific price range of their food. However,  I think they fall in the mid-range category.

BIKING AROUND SUMOTO

OHAMA BEACH


I felt like living the dream as I biked around the town. As the cold breeze of winter touched my face, I felt as if I've suddenly forgotten all about my problems. I was pedalling carefree, only concerned about the turns in each corner and the beautiful sceneries that unveil right before my eyes. 



Our first stop was at the Ohama Park. Seeing a beach for the first time in Japan reminded me of Atashinchi, a Japanese family-oriented cartoon series I used to watch every morning at GMA 7. My sister told me that families visit the Ohama beach mostly during the summer. Since it's winter when I visited, I only saw a handful of people playing catch near the woods, walking their Shiba-inu, and the others chilling by the shore. Hanging in this place also reminded me of my childhood where I just hang out in the afternoon with my friends, playing outdoors right before the sunset kicks in.

   

ASHIYU / JAPANESE PUBLIC FOOT BATH



After biking for around 30 minutes, we were lucky in discovering a public Japanese foot bath hundred meters away from the beach. This foot bath is also located at the base of the mountain where the Sumoto castle is located.


The experience was unique because we get to dip our feet in a 35-degree celsius spring water for free. We were dead tired already from the biking which is why this was a relaxing way to end our day. To our convenience, there is a shoe rack and a changing room just beside the foot bath itself. 


At first, the water is scorching hot to handle but all the foot paraffin's I've had before trained me for this kind of situation. lol I can still remember clearly how calming it felt to stay here in the afternoon after our long biking session. 



STROLLING AROUND TOWN


We had a few detours along the way before we headed for dinner. First, we saw a beautiful display of tulips in different colors in a park near a hospital in Sumoto. It was too colorful that we didn't hesitate in stopping by and taking snaps around them.

It was about spring time hence the blooming tulips 🌷
We also checked out Daiso and their local supermarket to get a few grocery items off the list. I suggest you also grab the chance to drop by their supermarkets and grab local items at affordable prices.

Isn't this the most satisfying thing ever? 
I've always wanted a Purikura that's why I convinced my sister and brother-in-law to do it with me. Another one ticked off of my to-do list in Japan! The photo capturing part was crazy fun but the decorating part was quite stressful because the instructions are in Japanese. We're still fortunate to produce this cute set of filtered photos in the end. Hahaha


I was also able to snag these goodies in the supermarket before we head to Osaka the next day. 😉

YAKINIKU EXPERIENCE


To my surprise, I found out that the famous Kobe beef actually came from Awaji Island. With this fact in mind, my sister and brother-in-law brought me to a great Yakiniku place called Tenzankaku to try their local beef. This buffet restaurant is located near the secondhand and convenience stores in the area.

Tenzankaku Address: 118-2 Osame Eita, Sumoto, Hyogo Prefecture 



At Tenzankaku, you are expected to remove your shoes in the receiving area and keep it in a locker with wooden keys. It was nice to be surrounded by mostly locals because you know it's their go-to place for their buffet-fix. However, people can also smoke in the receiving area which kind of a turn-off.


The customers need to choose the meat set that can be ordered endlessly within two hours. Because my companions have eaten here before, they knew what set to get best. It is also the first time I saw lots of drink variants available in a buffet. If I'm not mistaken, there are 20+ flavors to choose from. Also, who would also say no to an ice-cream-all-you-can?


VERDICT


If you're looking for a tranquil and laidback place to visit, Awaji Island is the perfect place for you. There is a lot of appreciation for nature in this place with less tourist in the prominent areas. Most of the places I've visited are for free, except for the restaurants and stores I've dropped by. The Yakiniku experience was also worth the buck! 😊


While there are still other things to do in Sumoto apart from the ones I've experienced, I think anyone can complete all the things to do here within three days max. I say make it a part of your itinerary if you wish to also visit Hyogo, Kyoto, or Osaka Prefecture in the near future.

I will write a blog about the Osaka and Kyoto leg of my trip next! Is there anything you want me to include in my next Japan blog? Let me know in the comment box below. 🙌



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