During the Edo period (1603~1867) Shimotsui was a popular and important hub for the shipping of goods and the movement of people, and kitamaebune freight ships passed through regularly. However, after the closing of the Shimotsui Dentetsu railroad, the location became more difficult for travelers to reach, which may be why it has retained so much of its charming atmosphere.
This article introduces three great things to enjoy while in Shimotsui.
The Traditional Shipping Agents
As soon as I arrived in Shimotsui, I went for a walk around the town. The townscape still shows many signs of its former prosperity. As trade flourished and the area become wealthier, structures were added to existing buildings time and time again, which made them long and narrow.
The Shimotsui Shipping Agent Museum is located on the corner of one such city street. The interior is large, with both tatami mat floors and dirt floors stretching to the back.
The perfect base for a day in the town, visitors can learn much about the history of commerce in Shimotsui, enjoy a nice cup of tea on the tatami, and have something to eat.
On the outskirts of town, a torii gate beckons travelers toward a shrine located up a hill that overlooks the area. The climb warmed me up, so the cool sea breeze felt really pleasant. It made me zone out for a little while and forget the recent hustle and bustle… I felt as though I could easily have stayed and gazed at the Seto Inland Sea forever.
Searching For Little-Known Wells
The following information is for those with a particular kind of interest. Although most people probably aren’t aware of the fact, it is well-known among enthusiasts that Shimotsui has a delightful collection of public wells that have been given cultural heritage status. There are many lovely wells with auspicious names such as Kameido (Turtle Well) and Tsuruido (Crane Well) here.
After walking around for a little while, I was surprised to find that every well had a tiny altar next to it. As the wells have clearly played a central part in people’s lives, and it’s easy to see why they are highly valued. It seems the more you look around, the more depth there is to Shimotsui, and to the wells, too!
A cat next to a well? Now, this surely must be a coincidence, right?
After spending time here in the harbor area, taking it easy and relaxing, I felt very refreshed.
Sharing Setouchi Seafood
Finally, it was time to go and buy some souvenirs and return home.
Octopus, wakame seaweed, fish… Shimotsui Harbor still has plenty of seafood on offer. There were lots of fishing boats moored, so I decided to go for a stroll.
I came across one of Shimotsui’s famous foods. Freshly caught octopus stretched out and hung over bamboo poles, a common sight here in winter. Dried octopus is sold both at the store and online. Octopus bowl, sashimi, or grilled… I get hungry just thinking about it!
They also have various kinds of seaweed such as konbu and wakame. The waters around Shimotsui are shallow, and the current is faster than the surrounding areas, so the seaweed growing here is really delicious. Every time I come to Shimotsui, I buy seaweed as souvenirs for my family. My personal recommendation is wakame shabu shabu.
Shimotsui is a simple place that really offers a pleasurable experience. Come for a relaxing walk, soak up the atmosphere, and look for the lovely wells.
Address: Shimotsui, Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture
Nearest Station: JR Kojima Station
Shimotsui Shipping Agent Museum
Address: 1-7-23 Shimotsui, Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture
Business Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 (last entrance 16:30)
Closed: Tuesdays (open on public holidays), the day after a public holiday, end-of-year (12/29 – 1/3)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Shinji Otokura / hiroe
■The Sanin, Setouchi & Shikoku Road Map
Our sightseeing information roadmap of the Sanin, Setouchi, and Shikoku regions is now complete. The map provides easily accessible sightseeing info like never before, and with this, your road-trip is sure to be even more enjoyable. The map contains info on rent-a-car services, tourist information centers, roadside service areas, and is completely free-of-charge, so please have a look!
■Times Car Rental Tourist Information Campaign
The car rental company Times Mobility Networks Co., Ltd. is now offering a voice translation app and tourist information services for foreign travelers via tablets at several Times Car Rental stores throughout the Setouchi region. Renting a car at one of these stores means you can get more sightseeing info about specific areas, and therefore enjoy your trip even more!
Osaka: Kansai Airport
Hyogo: Sannomiya Station, Shinkobe Station, Himeji Station
Okayama: Okayama Airport, Okayama Station, Kurashiki Station
Hiroshima: Hiroshima Airport, Hiroshima Station South Exit (BIGFRONT Hiroshima), Hiroshima Otemachi
Yamaguchi: Iwakunikintaikyo Airport, Iwakuni Station, Ube Airport
Tokushima: Tokushima Airport, Tokushima Chuo
Kagawa: Takamatsu Station, Takamatsu Airport
Ehime: Matsuyama Station, Matsuyama Airport, Matsuyama Sanbancho
Fukuoka: Fukuoka Airport International Terminal
Nov. 20, 2017 – Feb. 19, 2018
※ Hiroshima stores only: Oct. 20, 2017 – Jan. 19, 2018.
Shinji Otokura / Hiroe
Shinji Otokura Though I’m currently living on an island in Hiroshima prefecture, I previously lived in Okayama for 18 years and in Yamaguchi for 6 years. I work in architecture and design. I will be spending my days traveling around and sharing the places and things I discover with all you wonderful people. Hiroe After working as an environmental analyst in Fukuoka, I went to study in London, England. Since returning to Japan, I have been living among the beautiful nature of Osakikamijima, an island in the Seto Inland Sea. I’m going to walk the Setouchi islands wherever my feet take me, and write about the distinctive lifestyles, culture and scenery of the area as experienced by a complete newcomer.
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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