The 88-temple pilgrimage first reaches Shikoku at NARUTO (鳴門), around 13km north of Tokushima. However, the town is more famous for the whirlpools that form as the tides change and water is forced through the narrow straits between Shikoku and Awaji-shima. This is one of Tokushima’s most heavily hyped attractions, but it’s not a consistently reliable phenomenon. The whirlpools are at their most dramatic on days of the full and new moon; to avoid a wasted journey, check first on the tidal schedule with tourist information in Tokushima. To see the whirlpools up close you can either hop on one of the tourist cruise boats, or traverse the Uzu-no-Michi (渦の道), a walkway under Naruto-Ōhashi bridge, which puts you 45m directly above the maelstrom. The cheaper alternative is a bird’s-eye view from Naruto-kōen, the park on Oge Island, just to the north of Naruto town.

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