Since I started living and working in Kansai, I have made exploring the areas around my home in Nishinomiya and my English conversation school in Kawanishi a regular part of my life. Most of my travels have been along the Hankyu Takarazuka Main Line. The stations between Takarazuka and Kawanishi along this line are in a fascinating and interesting numbers of towns. There’s Kyoshi Kojin with its famous Seichou-ji Temple, Nakayama-dera in Nakayama, a beautiful holy waterfall in Yamamoto, and Manganji Temple in Hibarigaoka.
Last Sunday I decided to venture further and visit Iwaya on Awaji Island. I set out early with my wife, Megumi, in our little red car, to cross the wonderful Akashi Kaikyō Bridge to Awaji Island. It really is a spectacular drive, high above the ships plying the Akashi Strait. Pity I had to drive, so could’t fully appreciate the amazing view. Our first stop was the the busy service centre just the other side of the bridge. The Starbucks coffee was fine, but I found little else to interest me there. Funny that most day trippers from the mainland don’t seem to go any further; it really was crowded.
We soon headed down the circuitous route, through the carpark of the Awaji Highway Oasis, down to the lovely fishing town (formerly ferry port) of Iwaya. There were no other tourists there, and since the bridge was opened in 1998, replacing the ferry as the main means of transport to the island, there has been little development to spoil the old Japan feel of Iwaya. There are many traditional houses still standing (remeber how near we are to the epicentre of the Great Hanshin Earthquake), and many fishing boats in the busy harbour. From many parts of Iwaya there are great views of the bridge.
We broke our exploration of the town with a delicious meal of Akashiyaki and udon. Altogether a lovely day. A highly recommended destination for a day out. I also look forward to discussing my experience there with my students.
Smith’s School of English, Kawanishi