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Anime Aunties Visit Japan
Day 9: Trip to Awaji Island with Naruto, Godzilla, Dragon Quest & More!

by Jacki Jing,

Jacki: Awaji Island has a plethora of otaku attractions: NARUTO & BORUTO Shinobi-Zato, the Godzilla Museum, Crayon Shin-chan Adventure Park, Dragon Quest Island, and Hello Kitty Smile. Okay, sign me up!

I read some travel blogs about the island, but none explained how to tackle all of this fun at Nijigen no Mori in a day or how to get there clearly. Anime News Network to the rescue! I'll get to the semantics of how to get there and how much this all costs, but first, why should you go?

If you're a Naruto fan, NARUTO & BORUTO Shinobi-Zato will be electrifying. First, the island's scenery is very Konoha Village-esque: green hills covered with trees, and Showa Pond is a stone's throw away. Then you walk in, and life-size cut-outs of your favorite heroes greet you. It's surreal looking at the iconic shinobi eye to eye with big warm smiles on their faces.

I am already ecstatic. We get two tickets for roughly $15 dollars, I hurry around the ticket booth, and there it is, Hokage Rock. I make eye contact with Hashirama Senju, and then I glance over to Tsunade. I am covered in chills. I could honestly have gone home right then and been happy with the money spent. Fortunately, this was just the beginning.

Jacki at Hokage Rock
Photo by Jacki Jing

The General Admission gives you two scroll missions. First, you need to go through a maze/obstacle course and find 12 Shinobi inside and get a stamp of their hand seal on your scroll. This was a workout and insanely fun, a puzzle with physical endurance, putting your mental and physical acuity to the test. And I thought the Chūnin Exams seemed hard (hehe).

My partner and I had to crawl through small passages and doorways, skip from board to board to avoid falling on caltrops, climb ladders, traverse through wood and rope challenges, figure out sliding door puzzles, unlock passages using two hand seals — our hand seals were terrible. In one passage, we spent 15 minutes in front of the camera doing every hand motion imaginable. I thought it would be that difficult for everyone, but then two girls went in front of us and nailed it on one try. Regardless, we eventually got through and were greeted by a life-size statue of the 7th Hokage and a beautiful view of Showa Pond! Naruto had a pleasant message for us in Japanese, which we sadly didn't understand, but this obstacle course was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was an outdoor Naruto escape room. What can get better?

Now to the second scroll. You have to follow clues to get to the end, and each station had a riddle or puzzle you needed to solve. Real talk, my partner and I super struggled on this one. We don't speak Japanese and had a lot of trouble understanding what to do. We honestly just walked around and checked out the cool displays and the first station: The Akatsuki. I could not take my eyes off Itachi. His statue was just so handsome and impressive. This display alone easily made the admission worth it as well. Konan, Obito, Kisame — they were all there and looked sooooo badass. After that, it kind of went downhill. Again, we couldn't understand the signage, but there were rocks with cool images, a giant snake with Orochimaru glaring at you at the end, and a Kurama climbing wall. The big finale was a video presentation and incredibly cool statues of Naruto and Sasuke lit up in the darkness behind you and congratulate for finishing — OH! There's also a really cool surprise with the second scroll at the end — you'll have to see to find out!

If you're super into Naruto, I don't think you're going to be disappointed. If you're meh on it, it is kind of kiddie. My partner falls into the “meh” camp, but he told me he had a blast. He really enjoyed the physicality and mental gymnastics of the obstacle course. I am a huge Naruto fan, so… I thought it was DOPE.

Are you brave enough?
Photo by Jacki Jing

Do you know what else was dope? The Godzilla Museum. I wasn't thrilled about this one when we first walked in. Godzilla is cool and all, but it's not like I am obsessed. Well, this museum changed that! For 30 bucks, we ziplined into a giant, roaring Godzilla mouth, watched a thrilling Godzilla NIGOD video presentation, and got to see all these incredible Godzilla, Mecha Godzilla, and Mothra statues — the list of monsters featured doesn't end there. There were so many iterations of Godzilla to be seen, with figurines showing his evolution from 1954 to the present (he started to lose the derpy, googly eyes in the 90s). I was so impressed. The zipline was scary and such an adrenaline rush. I was 10 years old again, running around with a toy weapon, pretending to attack Godzilla. I am a huge Naruto fan and a mildly interested Godzilla fan, and the Godzilla experience was narrowly edged out by the Naruto amusement park. I really had a blast at both.

The Shin-chan Crayon Adventure Park also had a zipline, but this mid-30s heart couldn't do that twice in one day, so we just watched excited kiddos zip over Showa Pond while other kids shot at them with water cannons. While they did that, I posed with the different, adorable, and silly Shin-chan statues. I also went down a slide and climbed around the play set intended for ages 6-12. Admission to this park is free, and it's a nice addition. It's just calm and enjoyable.

Now that wraps up Nijigen no Mori for us. There's also Dragon Quest Island there, but we sadly ran out of time, and I could not miss the Hello Kitty Smile building on the other side of Awaji Island. A free shuttle goes all around Awaji Island, so we hopped on that, and in 20 minutes, we were ready to get our Hello Kitty on. My partner definitely was not a fan while I WAS IN HEAVEN!!!! Hello Kitty Otohime and Mermaid themed — I was tearing up the second we walked in. Hello Kitty plushies covered the walls in the Under The Sea room with a white convertible with a giant Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel inside. Then the Palace Theater showed a magical, colorful video presentation of Otohime Hello Kitty, me and a 5-year-old girl were so enraptured while her mom and my partner played on their phones. I nearly stuck my face right up to the glass displays featuring bedazzled Swarovski Hello Kitty figurines, shoes, guitars, and pianos. The gift store had expensive designer shoes and clothes with hefty price tags too. The best part, though, meeting Otohime Hello Kitty herself. She smiled and danced with me, the literal picture of kawaii. She even gave me a hug at the end.

So, basically, Awaji Island rocks. We were blessed with sunny weather, but it got stormy at the end, which was a little scary. The only downside to the adventure is that Awaji Island is way out there. My suggestions on getting out there and how to approach the day:

  1. You can take a JR Bus that's roughly an hour and a half from Osaka Station to the island; they run at 9 AM, 10 AM, and 2 PM. I would definitely catch the 9 AM.
  2. Go to Hello Kitty first (they open at 11 AM), eat lunch there, then head to Nijigen no Mori, and catch the bus back when you'd like.
  3. Take the JR Train to Maiko or Sannomiya Station and then take the bus to the island (use your Suica Card or pay with coins). It's a lot of travel. Depends on the person if it's worth it.

Phew, I am BEAT! Do I end every piece roughly saying this? Each day has been entertaining and tiring, lol. And we are not even close to done yet, people! Tomorrow, Universal Studios Japan! I sure wish Executive Editor Lynzee Loveridge was still here with us. Miss ya!

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