Naruto is located in the north-eastern tip of Tokushima Prefecture and famous for its great whirlpools. The Naruto Whirlpools can be seen in the Naruto Strait which lies between Shikoku and Awaji Island. It is one of the highlights in Tokushima.
At high tide, the seawater flows from the Pacific Ocean to the Seto Inland Sea, and at low tide, the seawater flows in reverse. Because the width of the strait is narrow, only about 1.3 km, at high and low tide the speed of the tidal current becomes 13 to 15 kilometers per hour. It is regarded as one of the three most rapid currents in the world together with Seymour Strait in Canada and Messina Strait in Italy.
It is the fastest current in Japan. The fast current and complicated shape of the seabed generate the whirlpools. The diameter of a whirlpool can become up to 30 meters at spring tidal currents.
Three ways to appreciate the whirlpools
1. From the Observation Tower
You can appreciate the Naruto Whirlpools in three ways. One is overlooking the whirlpools and beautiful scenery around it from the observation on the hill.
This facility is called Naruto Escahill (鳴門エスカヒル). To go up to the 90 meter-high observation, you need to take two escalators and one elevator. The first escalator is 68 meters long. It used to be the longest escalator in Japan when it was built in 1989. The escalator is covered with the glass windows, so you can go up to the observation without getting wet if it would be a rainy day.
At the entrance, there are a souvenir shop and a coffee shop. The coffee shop serves ice cream. Please try the Kintoki-imo ice cream which is an ice cream using real chunks of local sweet potato. It is truly delicious!
The entrance fee is 400 yen for adults and 100 yen for junior high school and elementary school students. They are open from 9:00 to 17:00 (8:00 to 17:00 in the summer).
2. From the passage under the bridge
Uzuno-michi (渦の道) is a walking passage built under the Ohnaruto Bridge. The Ohnaruto Bridge was constructed in 1985 between Shikoku and Awaji Island. The length of the bridge is 1,692 meters over the 1,300 meters Naruto Strait. Uzuno-michi was built under the main bridge in 2001 for the tourists to enjoy the whirlpool directly underneath.
The length of the passage is 450 meters. You can walk almost to the middle of the strait. There, you will find the glass windows in the floor. You can look down the whirlpool right underneath you through the glass windows. It is very thrilling to look down fro 45 meters above the water.
The entrance fee is 510 yen for adults, 410 yen for senior and junior high school students, and 260 yen for elementary school students. They are open from 9:00 to 17:00 (8:00 to 17:00 from March to September).
3. From the tourist boat
There are tourist boats from both the Naruto side and the Awaji Island side. The one from the Naruto side is called Naruto Kanchosen (鳴門観潮船). During the 30 minutes cruise, you can see the whirlpools from very close up.
Please check the time of the high tide and low tide before riding the boat.
The cruise fee is 1,800 to 2,400 yen (900 to 1,200 yen for elementary school students) depending on the type of the boat. They operate cruises between 9:00 to 16:20.
Access to Naruto Escahill and Uzuno-michi:
20 minutes ride on a local bus to Naruto Koen (鳴門公園) stop from Naruto Station (JR Line) or,
take a bus from Tokushima or Takamatsu (40-50 minutes)