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A Day in Naruto City

Naruto. Surely, when one hears the word Naruto what comes to mind is the popular manga Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto’s name was derived from similar Japanese words: naruto which can mean a powerful whirlpool (maelstrom) or the narutomaki which is the white topping with spiral design on a ramen, and uzumaki(渦巻) which means spiral or the whirlpool itself. (That’s why Naruto is a very big fan of ramen and spiral patterns are a recurring theme in Naruto and in Uzumaki Naruto himself).  However, this post will not be about Uzumaki Naruto’s exploits. This will be about the places I visited when I went to Naruto City, which is known for its swirling whirlpools, in Tokushima Prefecture. It is located on the northeastern part of Shikoku Island. We went there during one of our company’s shain ryokou (company outing).

Onaruto Bridge

Onaruto Bridge

Uzunomichi

to the observation gallery

to the observation gallery

Our Visit at Naruto City

Uzu no michi, The Whirlpool Path

Our first stop was Uzu no Michi,  a promenade constructed below Onaruto Bridge along its beam space.   At the end of the promenade is the  observation gallery. It offers a 360-degree view of the  Naruto Strait and its surrounding area. Some parts of the floor are made up of tempered glass providing a stunning view of the whirlpools down below. Seeing that I was keeping myself a safe distance away from the glass floors, my colleagues urged me into walking over it to overcome my fear. Although I knew that it was safe  but still the sight of the whirlpools really made my knees shake and my stomach turn. I’m not really good with heights and to makes matters worse, the clear glass floors will make you feel that you will fall down and be sucked into the depths of the ocean.

braved the glass floor (don’t mind the light sort of emanating from the water, its just the flash. Sorry, noob photographer here)

Naruto Strait’s underwater geography along with tidal currents in the area creates these whirlpools that Naruto is famous for. We weren’t able to observe a nicely formed whirlpool that day because we missed the first ‘best viewing time’ and we can’t wait for the next one due to schedule constraints. According to their website, it is best to watch the whirlpools one hour before and after the neap tide (slow current) and two hours before and after the spring tide (swift current). Be sure to check their Tide Table posted on their website so you can plan your visit beforehand.

If you are feeling adventurous, you could opt for a boat tour that would take you near these whirlpools. It sounds pretty scary getting close to one but don’t fret, its nothing like Calypso’s massive maelstrom in the movie Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End. It is relatively safe judging from the number of companies offering such tours and the number of trips per day.

boat tours

Otsuka Museum of Art

After a hearty  lunch at Naruto Grand Hotel we went to our next and final stop, the Otsuka Museum of Art. It is the largest museum in Japan, spanning over five stories and  boasting over a thousand  reproductions of Western Art’s masterpieces. These includes not only paintings and murals but also replicas of famous structures such as the Sistine Chapel – a must-see.

Da Vinci’s The Last Supper . I don’t know why they provide stools in front of the artwork. In this particular case, maybe to better contemplate if it is John or Magdalene seated on the right side of Jesus (Da Vinci Code anyone?)

Using a special technique by the Otsuka Ohmi Ceramics Co, the paintings, were copied onto ceramic boards and were faithfully reproduced down to its original colour and size.

a replica of Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone

There are several Gallery Talks, sort of a guided tour,  conducted by museum volunteers throughout the day. For non Japanese speakers, audio guide players are also available for rent and  supports English, Chinese and Korean languages.  On B3F you could let “Mr. Art”, guide you through the Antiquity and Middle Ages exhibition. Mr. Art is a Gallery Talk robot whose skills includes speaking four languages yet he is so nervous that he is only capable of one-sided conversation.  Indeed!

We only got to see two places but nevertheless I enjoyed it. I even learned a thing or two.

References:

http://www.uzunomichi.jp/english/

http://www.o-museum.or.jp/english/

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