Boats are an indispensable aspect of life in the Setouchi region. Before bridges were built to connect some of the islands there were an even larger number of boats plying the inland sea and they were more deeply intertwined with islanders’ everyday lives. There are shrines that only exist as a result of the fact that locals live close to the water, and beautiful views that can be only admired from onboard a boat. Cruising the Seto Inland Sea in a boat brings you into contact with the true nature of this region.

Admire the constantly changing beauty of the island vistas.

The Seto Inland Sea, Japan’s only inland sea, is home to 700 different islands. The relative positions of the islands seem to shift as one travels among them by ship, providing a dramatically dynamic view. Your impression of such popular spots as Miyajima will further change when they are viewed from the sea. You can also stop by and enjoy sightseeing on the islands during cruises. Here we introduce several must-see destinations and recommended cruises that will allow you to enjoy the Seto Inland Sea in yet another way as you feel the ocean breeze.

A lemon-producing island with beautiful beaches.

Hiroshima Prefecture’s Ikuchi Island is famous for lemon production. Walking around the small port town you will see citrus fruit such as lemons and mandarins as well as souvenirs made from such fruit, such as lemon cakes. It is interesting that the culture and beliefs of the mainland are also so firmly rooted even on small islands like Ikuchi, as indicated by Kosanji Temple, which, thanks to its gorgeous ornamentation, is referred to as the “Nikko of the West”.

See the World Heritage torii gate up close from a cruise boat.

Miyajima is home to Itsukushima Shrine, designated as a World Heritage. The vermilion-lacquered torii gate that seems to float above the waters has long been loved by the Japanese people as one of Japan’s top three views. The ability to see that torii gate up close is one of the main thrills of taking a cruise. The island of Itsukushima is itself the shrine. Formerly, it was prohibited to live on the island, which was accessed by boat by passing through the torii gate. The ability to experience what it must have been like at the time is particularly valuable.Miyajima

A retro townscape that looks like a movie set.

The port town of Mitarai on the island of Osaki-Shimojima in Hiroshima Prefecture has a section that looks as if time has stopped. With its little barber shop and traditional Japanese houses the townscape resembles a movie set, and no matter where you point your camera you’re sure to get a good picture. The town prospered during the Edo Period because boats plying the Seto Inland Sea pulled into its port to wait for favorable tides and winds, and it has been designated by the government as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings.

An island where people still perform a dance now designated as an “important intangible cultural asset”

Shiraishi Island is part of the Kasaoka island group in Okayama Prefecture. It has a circumference of 10 km and is home to 750 residents. While the island has white sand beaches and many people visit it to enjoy marine sports, it is also famous for the historic “Shiraishi Odori” dance. The dance was created about 800 years ago and Shiraishi Island is the only place where it is still performed in its original form. The small but proud island has carefully protected its unique culture throughout the centuries.

A cat island that draws feline fans from far afield.

Kagawa Prefecture’s Ogijima Island is dotted with small fishing ports and villages on steeply inclined land. One of the joys of visiting this island is the cats that call it home. The island is famous for the stray cats that live in the port town and shrines. The cats living on Ogijima are friendly and visitors can enjoy petting and playing with them or they can just enjoy the relaxing sight of groups of cats basking in the sun by the sea.

Enjoy views of Kobe from the sea on a luxury cruise liner.

The Kobe Concerto is a restaurant cruise ship that travels with slow majesty from the Kobe port to the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. Enjoy the exquisite cuisine prepared by top chefs in the elegant atmosphere of the ship’s restaurant, while the sound of live piano and violin music flows through the party rooms and decks. You can also enjoy the nighttime lights of Kobe during evening cruises. Enjoy this luxurious tour to enjoy the charms of the port from the sea.Kobe Concerto

Encounter the incredible power of the currents with the world’s largest whirlpools!

The Seto Inland Sea is Japan’s only inland sea. Though the seas here give a peaceful first impression, the Naruto Strait at the eastern end is home to whirlpools that are among the top three in the world in size! Here, whirlpools occur which reach up to 30 meters across. Furthermore, the current in the Naruto Straight is the fastest in Japan. Sightseeing boats approach so close to the whirlpools that one would expect to get dragged in. These tours will show you the true dynamism of the Seto Inland Sea.Whirlpool sightseeing boats