PLACES ON THE COAST OF THE SETO INLAND SEA

KIBA AND BEACHES AND BOATING NEAR HIMEJI

The private Sanyo Dentetsu railway network connects Himeji station to the coastal areas, and acting as a bridge between Kobe and Himeji, offers many coastal lines. Most of the stations are within walking distance of the beach. Himeji Port, which is located in the southern part of the central area (Take a bus from the JR Himeji Station), has various ferries to the east end islands in the Seto Inland Sea, to Ieshima that floats on the Harima open sea and to Shodoshima, a very popular tourist spot. Therefore, you can say that this area is a main gate to all the sightseeing spots in the Seto Inland Sea to the guests who are staying around Osaka and Kyoto. [Source: JNTO]

The main places of interest are 1) Kiba (the southeast part of Himeji), the only natural coastline in this area, with beaches, a cliff, hiking course, yacht harbour, camping spots, golf courses and impressive festival, Kenka Matsuri, in the fall season; 2) Ieshima Islands, a convenient spot that takes you to the beach with beautiful water with reasonable fare from the Kansai area. 3) Shodoshima, the second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea. You can enjoy onsen (hot spring), hiking and kayaking as well as swimming in the ocean here .

They always have a fall festival in the areas along the Sanyo Dentetsu lines. Fall is the best season for entertainment. In particular the 'Nada festival',which is held on October 14 and 15, has gorgeous portable floats and also spectacular fights between portable shrines that are bumped into each other. This festival is based on the local sea culture and it's also one of the big entertainments next to the Himeji castle. About 200,000 people visit every year and this 2-day long festival has a very unique culture, so it enjoys a great reputation with foreign visitors too. The festival takes place around Shirahama no miya station Shirahama no miya on the Sanyo Dentetsu Railway, one stop before Yaka station.

Activities in Kiba: Kiba Yacht Harbour (closed on Tuesdays) is a base for various types of marine leisure: Boat experience (Marine picnic): Cruising by motorboat (30 metersin/1000yen/person) reservation needed. Rental: small-size dinghy 1000yen/hour; sea kayak 1000yen/h; pedal boat 1000yen/hour. Others: Showers and restrooms, Yacht harbour, clubhouse 2 F Salon. The red wall coast adjacent to the yacht harbour: this is a coast where steep and strangely shaped rocks located from altitude 50 meters to 60 meters run for about 900 meters. As it resembles the "Red wall" of the Yangtze River, in China, it is named "Small red wall". It's selected as one of the 100 beautiful sights in the Seto Inland Sea Area. There's also a hiking course and the observatory on the top has a great view of Harima open sea. When the cherry blossom season comes in mid April, this area becomes a great spot to enjoy watching the flowers. Recently we often see a lot of rock-climbers. An old tomb still remains here, which visitors are able to enter. If you follow the path over the top of the cliff further to the east, there is a beach and camping site, called Fukudomari Marine BeltFukudomari Marine Belt, so you can visit these places while you are hiking from the harbour.

Accommodation: There are a lot of relatively inexpensive business hotels in Himeji City. Food: There aren't many restaurants around the Kiba area, so prepare a picnic. Information: Kiba Yacht Harbour: here, you can receive information about the Kiba Area, and also about sailing in the Seto Inland Sea in general. Getting There: From JR Himeji station: change to Sanyo Dentetsu Railway Sanyo Dentetsu Railway; the station is across the street from the central exit of the JR station. Take a local train to Osaka, get off at Yaka Yaka (15min) . From there it's a 15-minute walk South along the river to Kiba Yacht Harbour Kiba Yacht Harbour. Most of the coast area between Osaka and Himeji has been reclaimed as an industrial area. Even though it lacks natural beaches, there are a lot of recreational spots around the city where families can enjoy their weekends-it's getting more and more popular. Kiba map: anchorage.jp/setouchi/map

Seto Inland Sea Coast of Kurashiki

Seto Inland sea coast of Kurashiki (near Okayama) is a charming area. Mt. Washu (Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture) offers great views of the magnificent seascapes of the Bisan-Seto dotted with numerous islands and islets of the Shiwaku Islands. The scenic beauty found here was decisive factor in designating the Seto Sea area as a national park. The Shimotsui area encompassing Mt. Washu prospered as a port of call for ships awaiting better wind and current conditions. Mt. Ojigatake (Kurashiki City and Tamano City, Okayama Prefecture) has a distinct appearance and is lined with gigantic granite rocks and oddly-shaped granite rocks. There are good views of the Bisan-Seto Strait from the summit. Shibukawa Beach situated at the base of the mountain is a beautiful stretch of sandy seashore dotted with pine trees and used as a bathing beach. [Source: Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan]

Kiyotaka Sato wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “Inspired to see the sea, I drove to Mt. Washu in southern Kurashiki, a scenic spot at the tip of the Kojima Peninsula from which visitors can look down on the Seto Inland Sea. When viewed from the northeast, the mountain looks like an eagle spreading its wings — a shape that gave Mt. Washu its name. After passing along a narrow and winding road, parking my car and climbing stone steps through pine trees, I found a stone observation deck. As I inhaled a subtle salty scent, I was finally greeted by a superb view of the calm sea with more than 50 large and small islands scattered around, and the Seto Ohashi bridge stretching over them. You can also see Shikoku on the opposite shore, with a snow-dusted mountain range. Smoke was rising from an industrial complex across the water in Sakaide, Kagawa Prefecture. [Source: Kiyotaka Sato, Yomiuri Shimbun, March 02, 2017]

“You can hike to the top of Mt. Washu along a trail. Halfway up the mountain is the Washuzan Visitor Center, another superb viewing spot. The center, which is currently run by a group of local residents, exhibits documents about constructing the Seto Ohashi bridge, among other items...While waiting for the sunset, I went down to the foot of the mountain for a walk at Shimotsui Port, which was once prosperous as an anchorage site for cargo ships on their way to Osaka from Hokkaido, as well as as a departure site for worshippers traveling to Kotohiragu shrine in Kagawa Prefecture by boat.

“In the port town, which has a nostalgic atmosphere, is a facility named Mukashi Shimotsui Kaisen Donya, a building that housed a shipping agent. The building, which shows how prosperous the port town was in the early years of the Meiji era (1868-1912), was purchased by the prefectural government to refurbish as a museum. Items on display include furniture and everyday items from those days, while on the shelves are dried octopuses, among other local specialties.

“Mt. Washu was visited by 3 million people in 1988, when the Seto Ohashi bridge opened, but the number has fallen to about 1.8 million in recent years. The community faced stagnation, but now sees hope in an anime movie titled “Hirunehime” (Napping princess)...The story is set in Shimotsui. The Washuzan Visitor Center (086-479-8660) is open year-round. Mukashi Shimotsui Kaisen Donya (086-479-7890) is closed on Tuesdays. Admission is free for both facilities. Getting There: To reach Mt. Washu by car, it takes about 10 minutes from Kojima Interchange of the Seto-Chuo Expressway. From nearby JR Kojima Station, it is a half-hour trip by bus or a 10-minute ride by taxi.

Inland Sea Between Okayama and Hiroshima

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Seto Ohashi Bridge (near Okayama) opened in 1988 and consists of six bridges that connect Kojima (Okayama Prefecture) on Honshu and Sakaide (Kagawa Prefecture) on Shikoku via five small island. The span connected to Honshu is a road and rail double level suspension bridge almost 4,375 feet long. It is regarded as the world's longest railroad bridge. There are good views of the bridge and the Inland Sea from Mashu-zan Hill. Website: Wikipedia Wikipedia ; Kojima Denm Town Site setouchitrip.com

Kotohira Shrine (on Shikoku 10 kilometers south of Seto Ohashi Bridge, accessible train) is dedicated to the deity of the sea and is famous for its serene forest at the top of 785 stairs. is a must for anybody who loves the sea-and the mountains. The town of Kotohira is nice enough. Don't give up on the stairs to the main hall- of the shrine, there is plenty to see on the way, and the view from the top is awesome. Also try to get a glimpse of the new shrine office to the left if you are facing the main hall-it was built partly underground to keep the impact on the landscape as small as possible. Large iron plates were used to symbolize a ship. If you have time for a longer stroll, keep on going to Okuno-in Okuno-in, the inner sanctuary. Map: anchorage.jp/setouchi/map Accommodation: there are about 20 ryokan in town, many of them with onsen facilities. Getting There: Take the Marine Liner train on the JR Seto Ohashi line (1 hour).. From Kotohira station, it is about 15 minute walk to the beginning of the long stairway that leads up to the main hall. Websites: Kotohira town Homepage: town.kotohira.kagawa

Fukuyama (80 kilometers east of Hiroshima and 60 kilometers west of Okayama) is for the most part an uninteresting industrial town of 470,000 but it does have a castle, an interesting history and a couple of sights and is convenient place to change for local trains and buses to the Kasaoka Islands, a chain of small, unspoilt islands offering beaches, hiking and old fishing villages; and Tomonoura, the only complete port ensemble from the Edo period. The beauty of the moon-shaped harbour and small islands has long inspired poetry. The Boat trip from Tomonoura to Onomichi is interesting. Many Shinkansen trains stop in Fukuyama but not all of them, so check that out.

Shinshoji Zen Museum and Gardens offers a tranquil environment to experience various practices of Zen Buddhism. Opened in September 2016, the vast grounds of the Shinsho Temple have much to offer: a reconstruction of the teahouse designed by master Sen no Rikyu, the temple office building by Terunobu Fujimori, and an art pavilion and installation work by Kohei Nawa. All this found found among a beautiful strolling gardens with The structures dating back as early as the Kamakura Period (1185 – 1333). Location: 91 Kamisanna, Numakuma-cho, Fukuyama-shi, Hiroshima 720-0401 +81-84-988-1111, Fukuyama , Hiroshima]

Tomonoura

Tomonoura (near Fukuyama) is the only complete port ensemble in Japan from the Edo period (1603 – 1868). The beauty of the moon-shaped harbour and small islands has long inspired poetry. Tomonoura is a harbour town with 6000 residents. It's a wonderful, natural harbour was used the Middle Ages and remains in use today. Explore covered alleys, an old lighthouse, a wharf and dockings, as well as other historical heritage sights.

When you walk through the old town, visiting temples, shops and cafes in historic houses, stop at a nostalgic shop with boat equipment (Sawamura boat shop Sawamura boat shop) and a rich merchants' house (Otake-jutaku Otake-jutaku).. Enjoy the view of the small island Benten-jima from Fukuzen-ji Temple. Korean ambassadors stopped here on their way to Edo in the 17th Century. Io-ji Temple has a fibe view of the port. Since 2002, a citizens group has been actively renovating old houses that had fallen empty and found new uses for them.

Tomonoura also has many traditional events. In March, traditionally decorated dolls for the girls festival (Hina matsuri) are displayed in many of the houses. In May, a festival centers around sea-bream fishing. In July, burning pine bundles are carried up the steep stairs to the Shrine at night, leaving many of the local guys with burns on their skin! (Otebi matsuri Otebi matsur)

It is possible to go out kayaking in Tomonoura if you make a reservation with Setouchi Seakayak Adventures. You can arrange half-day cruises in a boat from Tomonoura to some neighboring islands such as Manabe and Yuge. Prices start at around ¥10,000\ per person depending on the number of guests. Some plans include a specialty lunch made from fresh fish, sea food and other carefully prepared local ingredients. Plans can be modified for your interest and circumstances. Several-days charter cruise plans are also available. Setouchi Seakayak Adventures (near Fukuyama) is run by Murakami Suigun-Shokai. It is open all year and offers camping tours to experience the nature of the Seto Inland Sea as well as day trip. Tours and courses designed to your specifications, beginners courses offered as required, equipment rental available.. Tours are available in the Onomichi, Tomonoura and Shimanami Kaido areas. Location: Utsumicho, Fukuyama, Hiroshima 722-2641, Phone: 090-8718-4141, e-mail:m-yasu@qd5.so-net.ne.jp Website: suigunkayak.com;

Tomonoura Tourist Information Center: Address: 416-1 Tomocho, Fukuyama, Hiroshima 720-0201, Tel: 084-982-3200; Hours: 10:00am-5:00pm; fukuyama-kanko.com ; Accommodation: There are several large and comfortable Ryokan in Tomonoura. Map: anchorage.jp/setouchi ; Getting There: By bus from Fukuyama station. Cross the traffic light at the right side of the South (Central) Exit. Buses run every 15 minutes from the first busstop after the traffic light, in front of Starbucks (30 minutes). Boat trip Tomonoura-Onomichi: From May to November, boats run on weekends from the pier in Tomonoura to Onomichi 4 times a day, following the coast of the Numakama peninsula. The one-hour ride gives you a pleasant rest between visiting two port towns, Tomonoura and Onomichi.

Sensuijima (accessible from Fukuyama City) is the island opposite Tomonoura, easily reached by the small ferry crossing regularly/ It has a nice beach, a campsite, hiking courses, cute Tanukis (Japanese racoon dogs) and accommodation. Sensuijima prospered in days of old as a port of call for ships awaiting better wind and current conditions. The area is famous for its natural its beauty said to be so great it is capable of holding mountain hermits spellbound. Visitors can gaze upon magnificent outcrops of five-color rocks (Goshiki-iwa Rock) where rhyolitic tuff that have been extensively eroded. Accommodation: A public lodge on Sensuijima has hot bath using salt water. Camping is available on Sensuijima: Website: sensuijima.com

Kure and the Yamato Battleship Museum

Kure (near Hiroshima) is a former World War II navy base turned into a commercial shipyard and the home to the Yamato Museum dedicated to a famous battleship that was sunk in the East China Sea in what was essentially a suicide mission. The museum contains a 26.3 meter-long. 1:10-scale model of the battleship, a Kairyu midget submarine, a Zero fighter, a Kaiten suicide torpedo, various other kinds of ordnance and artifacts that were salvaged after the wreck of the Yamoto was found in 1985.

There are videos of survivors telling their story and exhibits explain how Japan built one of the world’s greatest navies to protect Asia from European colonialism while admitting Japan’s own attempts at colonialism. The museum has welcomed hundreds of thousands of mostly Japanese visitors a year, far more than it creators had anticipated. Website: Setouchi Travel Guide.com setouchi-travelguide.com

The World-War-II-era Japanese battleships— the Yamato and Musashi — were the largest battleships ever commissioned. They each displaced 78,387 tons, were 863 feet long and were armed with 18-inch guns that fired 3,200 pound projectiles. The pride of the Japanese fleet, they were described as “the world’s greatest battleships” by Encyclopedia Britanica.

On the Musashi, Jon Henley wrote in The Guardian: “Designed to take on multiple enemy ships simultaneously, the Musashi was the second of the imperial Japanese navy’s colossal Yamato-class heavy battleships. Launched in November 1940, it measured 263 meters (863 feet) overall, weighed 73,000 tonnes fully laden, carried a crew of 2,500, and could travel at speeds of up to 27 knots (50 kph). [Source: Jon Henley, The Guardian, March 4, 2015 /+\]

“But what most alarmed the Allies was the warship’s terrifying armament, which included the largest-calibre guns ever fitted to a warship: nine 46cm (18.1in) cannon mounted in three triple turrets, each capable of firing up to two 1,460kg (3,220lb) armour-piercing shells a minute over a maximum range of 26 miles. She was an awe-inpiring sight. “I had never,” the World War II Database records gunner Russ Dustan of the American aircraft carrier USS Franklin as saying, “seen anything as big in my entire life … It was huge.” /+\

“But mighty as she was, the Musashi was not invulnerable – especially to aerial attack.” She sunk without trace in the Battle of Leyte (See Below). Despite numerous witness accounts of the sinking, the exact location of the Musashi’s wreck was never clearly established. The Yamato was ordered to attack the Allied amphibious force in Okinawa in what essentially was a suicide mission. The Yamato was ordered to beach itself and to act as an unsinkable gun emplacement and continue to fight until destroyed. and steer itself into the middle of an invading American armada and blow itself up. On April 7, 1945, en route to Okinawa, the Yamato was attacked by 280 aircraft and sunk in the South China Sea off Kyushu. Only 260 members of 2,800-member crew survived.” /+\

Rabbit Island (Okunoshima)

Rabbit Island (15 minutes by ferry from Tadanômi Port) is a small island occupied by hundreds of tame but wild rabbits that roam the forests and fields, shadowing tourists for food. Rabbits have large families and are known for their high fertility rate. For these reasons, rabbits are often considered a symbol of safe childbirth and the blessings of many children in some places. Rabbits are mostly nocturnal, they are most active in the early morning and late in the evening. With overnight stays, you can observe them during the night, while fully enjoying the night sky away from artificial lights. In Japan, legend has it that at full moon you can see a figure of a rabbit pounding mochi rice cakes on the surface. In 2015, the rabbits were featured in a short television BBC series called “Pets - Wild at Heart”.

The real name of Rabbit Island (Usagi Shima in Japanese) is Okunoshima. Considered part of the city of Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture, it is a small island in the Inland Sea of Japan with a circumference of 4.3 kilometers and is home to several historical buildings including the former Geiyo military fortress and the ruins of an old poison gas factory. Today, Okunoshima is mainly an island where visitors can enjoy the natural environment of the Seto Inland Sea, and it also features a swimming beach and campground.

Okunoshima is accessible by ferry from Omishima as well as Tadanoumi.There are several walking trails along the coast and into the mountain. You can swim in the sea during summer seasons. There is only one restaurant operating on the island along with a coffee shop. Bringing your own food is advised during peak seasons. Plenty of snacks and drinks are sold at the hotel. The beach is a five-minute walk from the hotel. Shower rooms and snack booths are available during summer seasons. The summit of the hill on Rabbit Island known for its 360-degree of the Seto Inland Sea at its many islands. There is also a scenic ocean view from the lighthouse and a campsite by the sea. The 226-meter-high pylon on the island is the tallest in Japan. The island is connected to Takehara on the mainland by Chūshi Powerline Crossing, the tallest powerline in Japan.

Some rules and things to keep in mind in regard to the rabbits: 1) Do not hold rabbit in your arms or chase them. Rabbits are usually afraid of being held; they will struggle to escape. 2) Do not feed Rabbits on roads. Roads have bicycle traffic; while eating, rabbits are usually too focused and do not notice the bicycles or other vehicles. 3) Do not leave rabbit food leftovers Rabbits do not eat dampened pellets or spoiled vegetables. These attract crows which interfere with rabbits. 4) Do not feed rabbits with human food. Rabbits may become ill from such food such as bread or snacks; they cannot digest potatoes. Dogs and cats are not allowed on the island.

Okunoshima Island Visitor Center provides information about the fauna and flora of Okunoshima Island and the natural energy used by the center. Okunoshima, Tadanoumi Town, Takehara City, Hiroshima Prefecture, Tel: 0846-26-0100; Open: 9:00am-4:00pm; Closed Wednesdays (January - February: Wednesdays, Thursdays), end and beginning of year Getting There: Rabbit Island is a 15-minute ferry ride from Tadanômi Port with services leaving roughly every 30 - 45 minutes. The port is a 3-minute walk from Tadanoumi JR Station, which is a 25-minute train ride from Mihara Station on magnificent coastal JR Kure Line. This ride itself is worth the trip, with it views of the Inland Sea and its many islands. The best way to get the island from outside Hiroshima is to take the Sanyō Shinkansen train to Mihara Station (only the Kodama stops there). At Mihara, catch the Kure Line local train to Tadanoumi. All Kodama Shinkansen Super Express coming from both Hiroshima and Osaka stops at Mihara Station. It takes about 20 minutes from Hiroshima and less than 2 hours from Osaka to reach Mihara Station. The Kaguyahime Highway Bus Service is also available directly to Tadanoumi JR Station, which operates from Hiroshima Bus Center via Hiroshima Station. Accommodation: If you plan to stay overnight, advance hotel reservation is advised as accommodation is limited around the area. The hotel on the island is not always available for last-minute visitors, especially during high seasons. A free shuttle bus or a 15-minute walk will take you to the National Park Resort Hotel on the island, where there are many rabbits welcoming tourists. Of course, many rabbits can be seen on the way to the hotel, and the sidewalk along the shore is spectacular.

Poison Gas and the Dark History of Rabbit Island

Okunoshima (Rabbit Island) was the center of chemical weapons research and production during WWII. It was “erased” from maps and workers on the island were sworn to secrecy. A poison gas factory was located on the island and it produced most of the agents used in the chemical warfare that was carried out in China. Some say that rabbits were released onto the island after the war like canaries ro a coal mine to spot signs of poison gas leaks.

Okunoshima was mainly used for farming and fishing The island was a cultivated area until the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) when ten forts were built to protect it. At that time three fishing families lived on the island. In 1925, the Imperial Japanese Army Institute of Science and Technology initiated a secret program to develop chemical weapons, based on extensive research that showed that chemical weapons were being produced throughout the United States and Europe. A chemical munitions plant was built on the island between 1927 and 1929 and was home to a chemical weapons facility that would go on to produce over six kilotons of mustard gas and tear gas. [Source: Wikipedia]

Japan was a signatory of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which banned the use of chemical warfare but not the development and storage of chemical weapons. Nevertheless, Japan went to great lengths to keep the chemical munitions plant a secret, even going so far as to remove records of the island from some maps. The island was chosen for its isolation, security, and distance from Tokyo and other areas in case of disaster. Under the jurisdiction of the Japanese military, the local fish preservation processor was converted into a toxic gas reactor. Residents and potential employees were not told what the plant was manufacturing and everything was kept secret. Working conditions were harsh and many suffered from toxic-exposure related illnesses due to inadequate safety equipment.

When World War II ended, documents concerning the plant were burned and Allied Occupation Forces disposed of the gas either by dumping, burning, or burying it. People were told to be silent about the project, and several decades would pass before victims from the plant were given government aid for treatment.

Many of the rabbits on the island are descended from rabbits intentionally let loose when the island was developed as a park after World War II. During the war, rabbits were also used in the chemical munitions plant to test the effectiveness of the chemical weapons, but those rabbits were killed when the factory was demolished and are not related to the rabbits currently on the island. The ruins of the old forts and the gas manufacturing plant and the power station that supplied it are still stading, but entry is prohibited as deemed too dangerous. Since it is part of the Inland Sea National Park system of Japan, there is a resource center and a museum. Tadanômi Port was extraterritorial during the war, being the only departing port to reach the island. It is said that the thick historical wall besides the ticketing office at Tadanômi Port separated the port from the mainland during WWII.

Poison Gas Museum

Poison Gas Museum (on Okunoshima, Rabbit Island) contains materials from Japan’s secret chemical weapons and poison gas program. It opened in 1988 to educate people about the island's role in World War II. Its curator, Murakami Hatsuichi told the New York Times, the museum "was established in order to alert as many people as possible to the dreadful truths about poison gas. My hope is that people will see the museum in Hiroshima City and also this one, so they will learn that we were both victims and aggressors in the war. I hope people will realize both facets and recognize the importance of peace." [Source: New York Times, Wikipedia]

The small museum is only two rooms large and provides a basic overview of the construction of the chemical plant, working conditions, and the effects of poison gas on humans. Families of workers who suffered the aftereffects of the harsh working conditions donated numerous artifacts to help tell the story of the workers' plight. The second room shows how poison gas affects the human body through the lungs, eyes, skin, and heart. Images of victims from Iraq and Iran add to the message of the museum.

The museum also offers guides to the numerous remains of the forts from the Second Sino-Japanese War and the poison gas factory. Most of the buildings are run-down and condemned, but still recognizable. The museum is aimed primarily at Japanese tourists, but English translations are provided on the overall summary for each section.

Townscape of Mitarai and Osakishimojima Island

Townscape of Mitarai on Osakishimojima Island (accessible road from Kure and ferry Takehara about 20-50 kilometers southwest of Hiroshima) is an Edo-period port town that was thriving as a trade and entertainment port for ships until the 1940s. These days it is very quiet. Designated a historic conservation district of national importance, Mitarai was built in the Edo period and flourished as an ocean and domestic port used as a relay point for carrying rice, herring and seaweed grown along the Japan Sea coast to Osaka and Kyoto. The "Mitarai price" of rice is famous for having adjusted its supply and demand at this port with an eye to the average price of the rice in Osaka.

Mitarai also used to be the main port providing daily necessaries and a little food to the returning northerly trade ships, but it became a transit trade port which bought products from other provinces such as rice from the ships and resold them to other places. The port was also used as a resting point by feudal samurai lords, on their way to and from Edo, the old capital. This, along with the visits of Dutch traders and merchants, created a vibrant atmosphere, bringing together wealth and culture. Even after ships didn't rely on wind and tides any more, they would stop by in Mitarai to enjoy the entertainment quarters. Only after 1945 has the place declined in importance and become the quiet spot visitors enjoy. These days, more than two thirds of the island's population is over 65 years old.

Check out the old port town with the stone steps leading into the water. Climb History Hill to enjoy the view and see the graveyard of the courtesans who used to work in the town, sit at the harbour and look at the waves, cycle round the island or across some small bridges to the neigbouring island. If you understand Japanese, a tour with the volunteer guides adds a whole new dimension to the place. Some of the buildings are open to the public, for example Otome-za Otome-za, a former cinema, and Wakaebisu-ya Wakaebisu-ya, a former brothel. There are very few restaurants in Mitarai, and these few often close on Sundays, so you might want to buy a Bento,

Tourist Information Center: Address: 187-1 Yutakamachimitarai, Kure, Hiroshima 734-0302, Hours: 10:00am to 5:00pm. Tel: 0823-66-3533. The building of the information center, Shiomachikan was rented by a generous local landowner and the residents fixed the interior and the facilities by themselves. There are volunteer tour guides here. (Tel: 08466-7-2278). Osakishimojima Island Map: anchorage.jp Accommodation: Furusato Gakuen is a nice old school building were you can stay and cook for yourself for a very reasonable price of 1500\.Sea Station Yutakamachi (Umi no eki Yutakamachi, Tel. 08466-7-2250) is a little hotel close to the ferry Port of Ocho (with a short o, not to confuse with Ocho with a long o!) with an adjacent pleasure boat harbour for visiting boats, a small convenience store and a cafe with bakery. Getting There: Unfortunately, boat connections to Mitarai and Ocho, the nearest port, have been reduced rapidly, especially since the island has been connected to Honshu by the Akinada Tobishima Kaido, a set of four bridges. Access from Mihara: JR Kure Line to Takehara High-speed boat Takehara Port-Ocho (40 minutes., 6 boats per day, about ¥1200). Access from Hiroshima: by bus from Hiroshima Bus Center or Hiroshima Station (2 hours 20 minutes, 4 buses per day, about ¥2000). From Takehara on the Honshu mainland it is 20 minutes by JR Kure line to Mihara or 30 minutes by shuttle bus to Hiroshima Airport.

Osakikamijima and the Onsen at Hotel Seifukan

Osakikamijima (accessible by ferry Takehara) is home of the hot spring at the Hotel Seifukan, where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the islands while soaking in an outdoor bath. Below the hotel, there is also a small beach. The hotel is about 30 minutes walk from both ports; if you stay overnight or travel in a group, there is a pick-up service.

If you arrive at Tenman, you will soon notice a very colourful Chinese style building on the way to Seifukan. This is the local community hall. An elevator leads to the graveyard on the second floor; from there you can start to hike up Mt. Kamizaki Mt. Kamizaki, which offers a good view from its 452 meter height. From here, you can also take a boat to Takehara on the mainland, another charming town with a well preserved townscape.

Accommodation: Seifukan; Bath only 1000 \, Overnight stay including meals from about ¥15.000 per person. Website: hotel-seifukan.co.jp Osakikamijima Map: anchorage.jp Getting There: the same boat that goes to Mitarai and Ocho stops at four harbours on Osakikamijima on the way, the most important being Tenman Tenman in Kinoe Village Kinoe and Nakaura Nakaura.

Image Sources: 1) 5) 6) 7) 8) 10) Wikipedia 2) Okayama City 3) Reggie.net 4) Hiroshima Prefecture 9) Ehime Prefecture

Text Sources: JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization), Japan.org, Japan News, Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Ministry of the Environment, UNESCO, Japan Guide website, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020


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