Blue sea and majestic scenery!! Isn't this Okinawa?!
Actually, it's Yamaguchi prefecture. When it comes to traveling within Japan, people are more familiar with areas such as Okinawa, Hokkaido, Kyoto, and so on… But currently Yamaguchi prefecture is experiencing an immense boon in popularity due to its previously unknown beauty. For example:
1. Iwakuni's Beautiful Kintai Bridge Built in the Edo Era
Gateway to Yamaguchi Prefecture, Iwakuni City…
The wooden, five-arched “Kintai Bridge” is a rare gem anywhere in the world.
It was built in the early Edo-period (about 350 years ago) by Kikkawa Hiroyoshi, the 3rd lord of the Iwakuni Domain.
Spanning the 200m wide Nishiki River, Kintai Bridge has been destroyed twice by the river’s vast volume of water and strong currents. Each time it has been destroyed or damaged, major improvements have been made to try and ensure that the new version withstands such forces.
Leading to its current iconic shape, the bridge’s structure has been fine-tuned little by little each time it has been replaced since the Edo period.
One of Japan's three most well known bridges, as unbelievable as it is, Kintai Bridge is made entirely of wood, and its arches fit well with the natural scenery of mountains and rivers.
With cherry blossoms in spring, cormorant fishing (Ukai) on summer nights, autumn colors, and winter snow-scapes, it is always so beautiful you'll want to see it time and again. Indeed, it's a popular spot for amateur photographers and tourists visiting to see the various events held each season and the beautiful scenery surrounding the bridge. ( Dedicated link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/328 )
2. A Sight for Obon! The Town of Goldfish Lanterns
Since the Edo period (1603~1867), the town of white plastered walls has been lit by red, goldfish-shaped lanterns!
A traditional folk craft, “Kingyo Chōchin (Goldfish-shaped lanterns)” are made here in Yanai city, Yamaguchi prefecture.
First created about 150 years ago when the town of white plastered walls was still busy and active, they say a dyer got the idea from Aomori prefecture's Nebuta festival.
A typical Yanai summer spectacle, local children would walk around town carrying goldfish lanterns as a sign of welcome for their ancestors.
Though this tradition disappeared for a while, it was reintroduced after the war by a single artisan and has since become one of the Yanai region’s traditional folk-crafts.
Every year when Obon draws close, the town of Yanai is colored in deep red.
You can even try making your own lantern.
Oidemase! Come to Yamaguchi!
( Dedicated link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/338 )
3. The Hawaii of the Seto Inland Sea! One of the World's Largest Areas of Alveopora Japonica Coral
While the Seto Inland Sea area is home to around 3000 islands of various sizes, the third largest, Suo-Oshima, is known affectionately as the "Hawaii of Setouchi".
Did you know that in recent years, one of the world's largest areas of Alveopora japonica coral was found in the sea to the southeast of the island?
A little later, in February 2013, it was designated as the Seto Inland Sea's first marine park due to its wonderful underwater scenery and wide variety of creatures!
Currently, Jikamuro Marine Park is one of the world's largest areas of Alveopora japonica coral.
Although local fishermen noticed the existence of the coral around 10 years ago, they thought at the time that it was "just seaweed". Thanks to this, the discovery of the existence of the coral was delayed, which allowed it to grow to its current, splendid size.
In addition to seeing the coral at Nagisa aquarium, you can also dive and snorkel with the guidance of local free-diving fishermen.
( Dedicated link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/656 )
4. A Place You'll Want to See at Least Once in Your Lifetime! Sea Line with Beautiful Landscapes & Tsunoshima Ohashi Bridge!
This is not an overseas resort or even Okinawa!
Despite being a resident of the Yamaguchi prefecture, the first time I saw Tsunoshima Ohashi Bridge even I couldn't believe it!
And it’s not even connected to the Seto Inland Sea; it’s on the Sea of Japan side!
On the other side of the bridge you can see Tsunoshima Island.
After being finished in 2000, the bridge suddenly reached the limelight and is currently one of the most popular sightseeing spots in Yamaguchi prefecture.
Blue skies! The emerald green sea! The beautiful bridge, with its splendid curves! I couldn't believe we have sights like this in Japan.
At first sight, many people might mistake it for Okinawa.
Aren't you just itching to visit Yamaguchi, too?
( Dedicated link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/487 )
5. 300 Million Years Ago This Was Ocean! Japan's Biggest Karst Plateau!
"I wonder if there really is one…"
The Akiyoshi plateau is one of Yamaguchi prefecture's main sightseeing spots. People who see this vast landscape for the first time are often left bewildered and just leave after taking a commemorative photo… Oh, what a pity!!
[At Akiyoshi plateau, you can see many plants such as Japanese Pittosporum, Xylosma, and Japanese Cobra lilies that grow mainly at the seaside? Why is this?]
The answer is: "Because this area used to be covered by the ocean."
Originally covered by the ocean and a coral reef, the largest karst plateau in Japan measures 17kms from east to west and 8kms from north to south. Around 300 million years ago, it reached its current form. It's hard to believe, but the proof is right before your eyes.
Along the walking course you can find several signs like this with quiz like questions written on them.
Sprinkled around you can see limestone that was formed by the accumulation of coral and shellfish. And underneath it, there is an enormous limestone cave called Akiyoshido cave. Within easy walking distance you will also find the Akiyoshi-dai Science Museum.
( Dedicated link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/510 )
6. A Dreamlike Sunset ! The Terraced Rice Fields of Higashiushirobata
Located by the shore of the Sea of Japan in northeastern Yamaguchi prefecture, Higashi Ushirobata's rice terraces are among the top 100 terraced rice fields of Japan!
Securing irrigation water for farming is essential, and Fukada reservoir replenishes the Higashi Ushirobata area. It's located right behind the terraces and has been selected as one of Japan's top 100 water reservoirs by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Water is added to the fields in May, and after the rice seedlings have grown you won't be able to see the water surface anymore, so the best season to visit is from May to mid June. We especially recommend the evening view, and during evenings you can also witness another famous sight, the fishing fires.
As the number of squid boats that set out is apparently particularly high on Sunday evenings, consider planning your trip to take in both the sunset and the fires!
( Dedicated link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/554 )
7. Offering Money is a Challenge?! Motosumi Inari Shrine Stands on the Edge of a Cliff!
Why is there a torii gate on such a steep cliff? It's a scene that anyone would consider strange.
To discover the reason, we have to go back 60 years.
The torii gates at Motosumi Inari Shrine are lined up as if they are running down the steep slope that faces the great deep of the Sea of Japan.
On the upper part of the large torii gate, at a height of 5 meters, there’s a box-like object. This is the offertory box.
Putting money in the offertory box at Motosumi Inari Shrine is said to be the most difficult in Japan, but there's no way I could leave without giving it a shot.
There are around 40,000 Inari shrines in Japan represented by the characters稲荷, but only Motosumi Inari Shrine and one other use the characters 稲成 for Inari. It is said that the latter character derives from the word for fulfillment, and that later on various wishes will be fulfilled.
Maybe the reason the offertory box is difficult to reach is to test visitors’ determination to have their wishes fulfilled??
( Dedicated link: https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/655 )
8. See Colorful Cliffs on the Omi Island Cruise!
Senzaki in Nagato city, Yamaguchi prefecture is known as the birthplace of Misuzu Kaneko, the children’s poet.
After taking a stroll along Misuzu-dori Street, we recommend visiting Omi Island, which can be seen from the seashore.
Illustrating the dedication of the locals, colorful sightseeing boats depart Senzaki port regularly.
Seen from up close, the rock surface is surprisingly colorful, and if you're lucky, you may even see dolphins.
A cruise surrounded by the secrets of Mother Nature, rough yet beautiful, it feels like it’s finished in no time.
If you visit the town of Misuzu Kaneko, don't forget to visit Omi Island, too!
For those who want to travel within Japan, these are our recommended Yamaguchi travel sites.
They probably won't be too crowded even if you visit during holidays, and you can find plenty of Yamaguchi delicacies, such as pufferfish, too.
Do head to Yamaguchi prefecture for your next long holiday, Oidemase!
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> A report on the merging of the superstructure and the base of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi Vol.3 by members of STU48 / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
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