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Photo By: iStock/ thanyarat07
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kobe
Population
5,550,742

Awaji Yumebutai

A free day of exploration and wonder where architecture meets nature, designed by the famous Japanese Architect Tadao Ando.

By Lilly Seiler

Towards the northern part of Awaji Island, there is a special place called Awaji Yumebutai that is a captivating mix of architecture and nature. It has a banquet hall, an open-air amphitheater and a botanical garden. In a park-like setting, there are also flower fields, eateries, stores, walkways and eye-catching architecture.

Plans for the Awaji Yumebutai

Photo by: WikiCommons/ 663highland The 100-step garden from shot above.

Japanese architect Tadao Ando was the creator of the multipurpose complex of buildings in Awaji Yumebutai. The location was built upon what was left of a hilltop that had been destroyed by ongoing dirt extraction for major landfill operations in Osaka Bay, including the construction of Kansai Airport.

Initial plans for the demolished area called for environmental restoration and park conversion led by Tadao Ando. Unfortunately, the project was affected by the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which struck the entire region in Kansai in 1995 and claimed over 6,000 lives. With Awaji Island as the center of the disaster, Tadao Ando decided to entirely rework the concept.

100-step garden

With mountains on one end and the coast on the other, the design is a sophisticated process of indoor and outside areas. One of the most popular spots is the “100-step garden,” a series of flower beds enclosed in hundreds of cement squares at the peak of a long staircase. The “100-step garden” is designed in a way that symbolizes peace for the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake.

Photo by: Lilly Seiler The most memorable one was an art installation of a giant yellow umbrella.

The green and lush surroundings are juxtaposed with gray cement and stone, enhancing the nature around them. The hallways and open spaces that link each structure have unique artistic and modern shapes. Stairs, slopes, and water features like pools, waterfalls, and fountains are all part of the various pathS. A walkway is never linear or equal in shape.

Sometimes, there are temporary art installations that make for an entertaining atmosphere. The most memorable one was an art installation of a giant yellow umbrella. It was suspended from invisible wiring to create an illusion of it floating above a pool of water in one of the center spaces of the complex.

Exploring Awaji Yumebutai

Photo by: WikiCommons/ Kanchi1979 Sit back and relax in the greenhouse.

While a large part of Awaji Yumebutai is the hotel, you do not need to be a hotel guest to explore the building and unique museum-like structures surrounding it. It is free to enter and tour the area unless you want admission into the greenhouse or the Akashi Kaikyo Park area. So set aside an afternoon and prepare to get lost in the captivating maze of nature and architecture by Tadao Ando. When you’re done, high-quality buffet restaurants and fancy cafes are located in the lobby to satisfy your appetite.

How To Get There

Address

By train

Take the train to JR Maiko station then wait at the Kosoku Maiko Bus Stop for the bus bound for the Higashiura Bus Terminal. Get off at  Yumebutai-mae bus stop

By bus

From Shin-Kobe and Sannomiya it takes about an hour on the express bus to Higashiura Bus Terminal. Get off at Yumebutai-mae bus stop.

By car

Awaji Yumebutai is about a 7-hour drive from Tokyo station.

Where To Stay

Grand Nikko Awaji (Awajishima)
  • 2 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, 656-2306 Japan
  • ¥26,700 - ¥250,700
  • 4.62/5 (1,591 reviews)
  • 0.3 km
Grand Chariot Hokuto Shichisei 135
  • 2425-2 Kusumoto, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, 656-2301 Japan
  • ¥68,970 - ¥156,090
  • 4.79/5 (151 reviews)
  • 1.5 km
Urban & Beach
  • 2838-1 Iwaya, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, 656-2401 Japan
  • ¥38,500 - ¥79,200
  • 2.2 km
Auberge French no Mori
  • 2593-8 Kusumoto, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, 656-2301 Japan
  • ¥31,900 - ¥145,200
  • 2.8 km
Seaside Hotel Maiko Villa Kobe
  • 18-11 Higashimaikocho, Kobe-shi Tarumi-ku, Hyogo, 655-0047 Japan
  • ¥8,075 - ¥32,775
  • 4.14/5 (4,798 reviews)
  • 8.2 km

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