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Things To Do In Seto Inland Sea

June 17th, 2010 by

Seto Inland Sea is a strait passing through Japan that connects the Pacific Ocean and the Japanese Sea. Located between the main islands of Honshu and Shikoku and stretching 300 miles from Osaka to the resort town of Beppu, the Inland Sea is one of the most beautiful and tranquil parts of the country. The strait snakes through a multitude of islands, villages, beaches and natural sceneries.

Here are some things to do while in Seto Inland Sea:

Shimanami Kaido

Photo courtesy of kubotake:

Cycle throughout the Inland Sea. There is a dedicated bike path along the Shimanami Kaido, a 60-kilometer toll road which connects Honshu’s Onomichi City to the six islands of Mukaishima, Innoshima, Ikuchijima, Omishima, Hakatajima and Oshima before ending in Iwabari City in Shikoku. Experienced cyclists can enjoy the numerous islands dotting the route, and there are no big climbs to challenge them. A bicycle rental system is in place where visitors can rent any of several types of bicycles, then drop them off at twelve terminals along the path if they wish to continue on by bus, instead. There are even kid’s type and electrically-assisted models available.

Stroll through the historical remakes of Choseizan Kosanji Temple. Built by a businessman-turned-priest ove a 30-year period, this complex hosts a number of recreations of famous structures throughout the nation. The recreations include  Byodoin Temple outside Kyoto and Nikko’s Yomeimon Gate. Don’t miss out on the grotto cave besides Byodoin Temple, which depicts souls being tortured in Buddhist hell. The temple is a ten-minute walk from Setoda’s ferry pier.

Korakuen Gardens

Take pleasure in Korakuen Gardens. Korakuen means the “garden for taking pleasure later”, and is one of the three most beautiful landscaped gardens in Japan. Occupying 13.3 hectares, this stroll garden contains streams, groves, rice paddies and tea arbors, all designed to complement the surrounding hills and mountains. Korakuen is a 30 minute walk away from Okayama Station; trams and buses also pass the garden’s main gate.

Pay respects at the Itsukushima Shrine. Just outside of Hiroshima on the small island of Miyajima stands the famous red torii (shrine gates) of Itsukushima Shrine. Built above the waters of the island, the torii seem to float on them during high tide. You can read more about the shrine in this article.

Travel back to the past in Kurashiki. Meaning “warehouse village”, this town in Okayama has a historical canal area from the Edo Period, and many of its warehouses have been converted into museums, boutiques and cafes. The heritage site is a ten-minute walk from Kurashiki Station’s south exit.

Watch the Shiraishi Bon Dance. The Shiraishi Bon Dori is a 700-year old dance performed every August during the Festival of the Dead. This ritual is meant to comfort the souls of the Heiki warriors who perished in the renowned sea battle against the Genji in 1185. As the “Island of Mist and Trances”, Shiraishi is also known for its clear waters, beautiful beaches and simple living. Three different ferry services have routes to Shiraishi Island, although the Sanyo Kisen ferry offers the most number of trips with a port that is nearest to Kasaoka Station.

The best seasons to visit Seto Inland Sea are during spring and summer when the weather is great for a beach trip. There’s also a chance to spot humpback whales traveling in these waters from February to April. While there are adequate ferry services between the various islands, the system is confusing for foreigners. Traveling by bicycle or car is not only possible due to the number of bridges, it also lets visitors enjoy the lovely views of the islands and the surrounding waters.

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