Awaji Island (淡路島 Awaji-shima) is an island in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, in the eastern part of the Seto Inland Sea between the islands of Honshū and Shikoku. The island has an area of 592.17 square kilometres (228.64 square miles), and is the largest of the Inland Sea's islands.
|Native name: 淡路島 Awaji-shima|
Map of Awaji Island
Location in Japan
|Location||Seto Inland Sea|
|Area||592.17 km2 (228.64 sq mi)|
|Length||53 km (32.9 mi)|
|Width||28 km (17.4 mi)|
|Highest elevation||606 m (1,988 ft)|
|Pop. density||265 /km2 (686 /sq mi)|
The island is separated from Honshū by the Akashi Strait and from Shikoku by the Naruto Strait. Since April 5, 1998, it has been connected to Kobe on Honshū by the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. Since its completion the Kobe Awaji Naruto Expressway across the island has been the main eastern land link between Honshū and Shikoku. The Naruto whirlpools form in the strait between Naruto, Tokushima and Awaji.
The Nojima Fault, responsible for the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake, cuts across the island. A section of the fault was protected and turned into the Nojima Fault Preservation Museum in the Hokudancho Earthquake Memorial Park (北淡町震災記念公園) to show how the movement in the ground cut across roads, hedges and other installations. Outside of this protected area, the fault zone is less visible. The Onaruto Bridge Memorial Museum (大鳴門橋記念館 Ōnarutokyō Kinenkan) and the Uzushio Science Museum (うずしお科学館 Uzushio Kagakukan) are located near Fukura.
According to the creation myth in Shinto, Awaji was the first of the ōyashima islands born from the kami Izanagi and Izanami. Awaji constituted a province between the 7th and the 19th century, Awaji Province, and was a part of Nankaidō. Today the island consists of three municipalities: Awaji, Sumoto and Minamiawaji.
The Awaji Ningyō-Jōruri, a more-than-500-year-old form of traditional puppet theater, or ningyō-jōruri, daily performs several shows in the Awaji Ningyō-Jōruri Hall (人形浄瑠璃館) in Minamiawaji, Hyōgo in the southern part of the island and is designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Japan. The Awaji puppets perform popular traditional dramas but have their origins in religious rituals.
Starting in the 1830s, the local potter Minpei started producing what would be then known as Awaji ware, also known as Minpei ware.
In 1995, this island was the epicenter of the Kobe earthquake, which killed over 5,502 people.