This post is a little bonus side-track from my JR-WEST Kansai Area Pass journey – for anime fans!
To recap here are the 3 posts for your reference:
First thing first, a brief introduction about Awaji.
Awaji is an island located in the Seto Inland Sea connecting mainland Japan to Shikoku. It’s also connected from Kobe via the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. If you have been to Shikoku before not by flight, chances are you have actually made your way through Awaji island to to access Shikoku but little did many travelers know that Awaji itself is full of surprises. So today I’m going to introduce one of the latest attractions in Awaji Island – Nijigen No Mori.
Nijigen No Mori
This facility is part of Awaji island’s prefectural park with a vast land, converted into an entertainment and leisure hub to attract more visitors from all over Japan and more importantly, anime fans from all around the world. I think it is a great idea! Anime is often the starting point for many Japan-loving converts, and it’s a smart move to gather more international footsteps to explore this otherwise rather hidden gem of the Kansai area.
There are 2 anime/manga themed attractions, a resort and restaurants. News has it that they are opening yet another new theme park this summer!
Naruto & Boruto – Shinobi-Zato
Yes, you heard it right – this park is based on the super popular manga/anime series Naruto! More precisely, Naruto and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.
How to get there?
Although you won’t be able to use your JR-WEST Kansai Area Pass for this attraction, you can take a themed bus from operated by JR West that brings you from Osaka Station or Kobe Station directly to the theme park’s entrance!
Here you are, getting dropped off right in front of Nijigen No Mori.
Naruto fans, here you are about to step into a world of anime fantasy, featuring your favorite Naruto characters and more.
To be honest, I have not read or watch the series before, but I totally could imagine how exciting it would be for Naruto fanatics spotting all their favorite life-size ninja!
How about a photo with the Nine Tailed Demon Fox?
If you are keen, there are also two types of challenges – a physical challenge where you will go through a maze collecting stamps to complete your goal.
Not just posing for photo. You actually have to use quite a bit of energy and brain to complete the maze! I actually failed the first time haha.
You will be given a scroll to collect stamps as you move on with the story.
Here’s the final goal!
There’s another challenge where you will walk around the park solving Naruto-related quizzes so make sure you already have basic knowledge of the manga. There’s English translation for the quizzes so rest-assured if you are worried about language!
Once you are done with the challenges, you will receive wristbands to certify that you are indeed, a true-blue Naruto fan. For me I had the help of other Naruto fans but it was a lot of fun for sure!
If you appreciate the stories, there’s no way you could go home without having a bowl of steaming hot “Ramen Ichiraku”, a Naruto favorite.
I was told that on the day of the theme park’s launch, they sold a thousand bowls of ramen to fans who were beyond excited to taste it. Guess what? The bowl is for sale too so you can always have a Ramen Ichiraku moment anytime at the comfort of your own home.
Drop by the souvenir shop for some shopping time to add to your Naruto & Boruto collection.
Crayon Shinchan Adventure Park
Although Naruto totally overshadows everything else in the park, do know that even if you are not familiar with Naruto or you are just here with your little ones looking for some physical fun, there’s the Crayon Shinchan Adventure Park.
Here’s an obstacle course in the area that totally doesn’t look like it’s for the faint-hearted. But don’t worry, there are actually a few courses where you can pick to suit your own limit, and the advanced course is for sure not an easy one.
For me I took on the zipline challenge!
As I have done a 500m high in Tokushima before, this 225m course over the pond was pretty much just a warm up haha.
There is though, a massive water canon aiming at you at the finishing line so you miiiiight just get a little wet (I luckily didn’t, though).
All dry and safe!
Mori No Terrace
Hungry? Head to Mori No Terrace for a feast!
There are quite a lot of choices on the menu, but make sure that you have someone to share with as the portions are pretty huge.
Grand Chariot Hokutoshichisei 135°
If you have the luxury to stay longer than a day trip, here’s the place you should absolutely check out – the Grand Chariot within the park itself to enjoy a really memorable “glamping” experience.
The resort’s name is rather unique itself, as Hokutoshichisei (北斗七星) means the Big Dipper of the constallation, and the number 135 comes from the resort itself falling on the 135th longitude line, which many believe has healing and restorative properties.
And, as hinted by its name, this resort is the perfect place for star-gazers.
While it’s nothing like what I expected, the cottage-style “glamping” site is so much more than just a glorified tent.
Firstly you will be glad to know this is the absolutely stunning view you can enjoy from the cottages up on the hill.
Secondly, even the rooms are themed! Well there are two charater themed rooms, the first one is Crayon Shinchan.
Release your inner Shinchan and go wild in this cozy wooden cabin.
There’s even a skylight in the room for star-gazing at night!
It fits 4 people so it also makes a perfect family getaway.
Prefer something more feminine instead? Here’s the “Hello Kitty Star’s Cocoon” – another themed cottage of the resort.
The layout is the same as the Shinchan room, except that you now have pink-bowed kitties as your companion.
This time you will be looking upon the starts through the skylight with Hello Kitty herself.
This is the shared area for the guest to chill out, although you will have your own yard from within the cottage itself.
Also, if you remember my Hello Kitty Takara No Fu video on Instagram, here’s where I bought it from ^^
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Hello Kitty Smile
Here’s more Hello Kitty for you. Located a short drive away from Nijigen No Mori, you can access this stylish kitty facility by a free shuttle bus from the former theme park.
Unlike Sanrio Puroland which is mainly made for little kids who go all crazy getting surrounded with fluffy mascots, Hello Kitty Smile on the other hand, is a stylish gallery + restaurant tastefully design to appeal to grown up kitty fans.
Of course, you can still get your dose of kawaii from the hundreds of plushies in one of its exhibition rooms.
But there are also lounges that spell class and a state-of-the-art projection mapping cinema.
Head up to the roof top and you will find a dome in the shape of Hello Kitty’s head.
Don’t forget to also explore the human-size kaleidoscope to admire all sorts of dazzling kitty-themed jewels and colors.
Heading Back to mainland
When you are done with the island, you can head to Iwaya Port and take a ferry that takes you back to Akashi Port at mainland.
Good bye Awaji!
As I have mentioned in my previous post, the Awaji Jenova Line is the most colorful boat I’ve been on and the ride itself is a mini adventure!
Check out my JR-WEST Osaka + Kobe post for the rest of the itinerary.
That’s all for this time. Till then, for more of Japan.