My name is Hironobu Matsuoka, and I have traveled across Japan in my camping car, the Solar King, visiting and photographing over 2000 tourist spots. My favorite scenes are those with stunning sunsets and majestic views. The Seto Inland Sea area has plenty of spots to catch the sunset. In this blog, you can follow me around Setouchi for great places to see the setting sun, and my hunt for the best timing among the ever-changing seasons and weather conditions. Exactly how many times does one see the setting sun in one’s lifetime? When pondering this question, I cannot help but turn into the Sunset Hunter.
Sanbyakuyama, in the southern part of Okayama Prefecture, is well-known to Seto Inland Sea Sunset Hunters!
As there’s nowhere to park at the trail entrance, I parked my car on the road shoulder about 5 minutes away. The sign at the entrance has a trail map that also shows where you can do a little seasonal birdwatching.
Off we go!
I visited in the middle of April. Sanbyakuyama is also famous for its azaleas, and both sides of the trail were covered in a red carpet of the beautiful flowers in full bloom.
The trail also has spots where you can enjoy the flowers together with views of the Great Seto Bridge. Alas, the bridge was somewhat shrouded in spring haze, but the trail offers a panoramic view of the bridge behind the blossoming flowers.
By the way, this is how the view looks in winter. As the air is clearer at that time of year, you can see even further.
Here you have the 12.3km long Great Seto Bridge in front of Sakaide, Shikoku. The bridge consists of several smaller bridges connecting the many islands between the mainland and Shikoku. Mt. Iino (also known as Sanukifuji) rises at the foot of the bridge.
The summit of Sanbyakuyama is only a short 5 minute walk from the lookout point I stopped by earlier. You can’t see the Great Seto Bridge from here, but you can enjoy the beautiful vista of the many islands of the Seto Inland Sea.
The ideal sunset spot is located close to the summit. This is the sunset during the azalea blooming season (mid-April).
Here’s a winter scene (early December). If you compare the two photos, you can clearly see the big difference in the sun’s setting position.
Sunset Hunter Trivia:
The sun’s setting position (direction) changes according to season. It’s almost precisely due west on the spring and autumn equinoxes, and moves towards the northwest after the spring equinox, and towards the southwest after the autumn equinox.
This photo was taken just before a winter sunset (early December). It sets close to Teshima island of the Shiwaku Islands, in southwest Okayama Prefecture.
This is the spring sunset (mid-April). The sun sets close to the islands of Kamimizushima and Shimomizushima and the Mizushima Industrial Complex. In the background, you can see the mountains of Honshu.
Sanbyakuyama’s sunset changes according to the weather and the season. The summit overlooks the numerous islands of Setouchi and is a place I want to return to again and again.
Why don’t you also try chasing the beautiful Setouchi setting sun as a Sunset Hunter?
Address: 2459-1 Shimotsui, Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture
Tel: 086-473-1115 (Kurashiki City Government Office Kojima Branch Office Industry Division)
Parking: Unavailable (you can park on the road shoulder a few minutes away from the trail entrance)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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