2018.8.10
Art Hiroshima

Traveling Beautiful Setouchi in a Convertible / Heisei Car Rentals (Okayama Prefecture – Hiroshima Prefecture – Kagawa Prefecture – Ehime Prefecture) 【PR】

The Setouchi region is famous nationwide for its cycling routes across islands such as Awaji Island and along the Shimanami Kaido expressway. What is less well known is the number of breathtaking driving routes – some of the best in Japan. Setouchi is an amazing place to experience even by just driving around.

For this article, I rented some convertibles at Heisei Car Rentals, which operates at 10 locations throughout the Setouchi region (Okayama – Kagawa – Ehime), and explored a variety of routes. I will show you some of the amazing experiences a road trip through Setouchi can offer.

The 4 Routes:

Route 1 – Shimanami Kaido (in a Mazda Roadster)

Route 2 – Great Seto Bridge [Seto Ohashi] (in a Honda S660)

Route 3 – Shodoshima Island (in a Daihatsu COPEN)

Route 4 – Ishizuchi Skyline (in a Daihatsu COPEN)

Furthermore, I made several 360º videos of the trips I took, so you can get a feel for the real-life scenic views I experienced while driving the convertibles. Do please have a look!

Route 1 – Shimanami Kaido in a Mazda Roadster

The most recommended road to drive along in the Setouchi region is the Shimanami Kaido expressway (also famous as a cycling route). The car I rented for this route was a Mazda Roadster – the single-most popular Japanese convertible on the market. This highly sought-after car is available for rental at Heisei Car Rentals.

It only comes with manual transmission, but it’s powerful and the very pinnacle of driving comfort. The trunk is quite large too, so the Roadster is suitable for long trips.

Let’s go!

Above is a road map of the Shimanami Kaido. I picked up my Roadster from Heisei Car Rentals at their Kojima Station  branch (in the southern part of Okayama Prefecture). For travelers arriving by plane or shinkansen, other branches are conveniently located at Okayama Airport and Okayama Station. It takes a little over an hour from either location to drive to the entrance of Shimanami Kaido in Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, via the expressway.

Shimanami Kaido is an expressway that connects Japan’s main islands of Honshu (Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture) and Shikoku (Imabari, Ehime Prefecture), and takes you across six of the many islands that dot the Seto Inland Sea, such as Innoshima Island and Omishima Island. From Shin-Onomichi Bridge in the north to Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge in the south, the expressway crosses 10 large bridges. Driving across them and experiencing the spectacular views is an awesome feeling, especially in a convertible. 

The 360º video below shows my full drive across the bridges of Shimanami Kaido. It offers dynamic, real-life panoramic views of the surroundings, the towering bridge pillars, the distant islands, and the ships criss-crossing waters.

The 360º video also shows observation spots and the coastline along Shimanami Kaido. The view of Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridge as seen from Itoyama Park and Tatara Observation Platform are among the most breathtaking. The moment you pass under the enormous Innoshima Bridge on the drive along the southern coastline of Mukaishima Island is truly awesome. Along with cool breezes, driving a convertible brings you closer to the amazing views and therefore offers a refreshing and great experience.

360º video real-life driving experience

We have prepared several 360º videos, so you can have a real-life experience looking at the surrounding scenery while driving a convertible. Please have a look.

– Smartphone viewers, move the phone to look in any direction, or press the screen and move the picture with your finger.

– PC users can use the mouse to move the picture in any direction.

If you are unable to play the video, or would like to use a larger screen, press the YouTube button in the lower left and open the video in the YouTube app.

Next, I’ll be driving across The Great Seto Bridge in a Honda S660.

Route 2 – The Great Seto Bridge in a Honda S660

The next route takes us across The Great Seto Bridge and through its surroundings in a Honda S660 – a particularly popular convertible ‘kei’ car, which is in no respect inferior to the Roadster. The car comes in three different colors: black, yellow, and white, and has either a manual or an automatic transmission. As the S660 is a compact ‘kei’ sports car, its trunk is somewhat limited in size, so be sure to only bring necessities, or be ready to fill the floorspace of the passenger seat with your things.

Let’s go!

Above is a road map of The Great Seto Bridge and surrounding areas. I picked up my S660 at the Kojima Station branch of Heisei Car Rentals. For travelers arriving by airplane, another branch is conveniently located at Takamatsu Airport. 

With a total combined length of 13km, The Great Seto Bridge is a collective term for the 10 bridges that connect Honshu and Shikoku between Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture and Sakaide in Kagawa Prefecture. One of the most popular sightseeing destinations in Japan at the moment, the bridge had its 30th anniversary in April 2018.

The 360º video below shows driving across one of the main bridges along the route. It gives a real-life experience of spectacular scenes such as the moment you pass under Iwagurojima Bridge, which has the shape and elegance of a swan spreading its wings, the scenic views of the many islands of the inland sea, and also the lava plateaus of Kagawa prefecture.

After crossing the Seto Bridge, I decided to stretch my legs a little and head to Goshikidai Skyline. I took in the breathtaking views of the Inland Sea, and then strolled around the observation area and sightseeing spots at the base of the bridge. On the way back, the best thing to do is to stop at the parking area on Yoshima Island. You can also see the bridge from the most picturesque spot on the Honshu-side, Mt. Washu, as well as from the old fishing village of Shimotsui, which still retains traces of older times.

360º video real-life driving experience

We have prepared several 360º videos, so you can have a real-life experience looking at the surrounding scenery while driving a convertible. Please have a look.

If you are unable to play the video, or would like to use a larger screen, press the YouTube button in the lower left and open the video in the YouTube app.

Next, I’ll drive through the amazing scenery of Shodoshima Island in a Daihatsu COPEN.

Route 3: Shodoshima Island in a Daihatsu COPEN.

Next, I drove around Shodoshima Island enjoying its awesome scenery. The convertible Daihatsu COPEN ‘kei’ car is very well-known in Japan. Its name comes from its “compact” size and the Japanese term for convertible, “open car”. The models available for rental are the COPEN XPLAY, as shown in the photo above, which comes in yellow, and the COPEN Robe, which has several color choices including liquid silver, yellow, and pearl white, and either a manual or an automatic transmission. Like the S660, the trunk is quite limited in size, so be sure to only bring necessities, or be ready to fill the floorspace of the passenger seat with your things.

Let’s go!

Above is a road map of Shodoshima Island. I picked up my COPEN at the Heisei Car Rentals branch at Takamatsu Airport, which is very convenient for travelers arriving by airplane, but there is also a branch at Takamatsu Station, close to the ferry pier. The ferry between Takamatsu Port and Tonosho Port on Shodoshima Island departs 15 times a day. From the ferry you have excellent views of the islands of Megijima, Ogijima, and Teshima, which makes the hour long ride pass too quickly.

The roads on Shodoshima Island are well maintained, and the pleasant drive offers a variety of scenery including coastline views and the mountain range in the island’s center. Some parts of the road can be narrow, but with a ‘kei’ car it is easy to navigate past any oncoming vehicles.

The 360º video below shows Jizozaki Lighthouse (and its surroundings), which is situated in the southernmost part of the island, as well as some hidden breathtaking spots along the route. Don’t miss it!

It is possible to enjoy Shodoshima Island by just driving around, but it offers so much more for visitors. The video also shows some of the island’s most famous tourist attractions, including the valley of Kankakei, Angel Road, and Greek-style windmills in olive gardens. Be sure to make full use of the video’s 360º panoramic capabilities!

360º video real-life driving experience

We have prepared several 360º videos, so you can have a real-life experience looking at the surrounding scenery while driving a convertible. Please have a look.

If you are unable to play the video, or would like to use a larger screen, press the YouTube button in the lower left and open the video in the YouTube app.

Next, I’ll take the sky road to Mt. Ishizuchi. 

Route 4: Ishizuchi Skyline in a Daihatsu COPEN

Lastly, I took the Daihatsu COPEN and traveled along mystical mountain roads. I drove my convertible ‘kei’ car, just as on Shodoshima Island earlier, and headed for Ishizuchi Skyline, which also serves as the access road to the tallest peak in western Japan, Mt. Ishizuchi (1,982m).

Above is a road map of Ishizuchi Skyline and surrounding areas. My trip started at Heisei Car Rentals at Matsuyama Airport, which offers the most convenient access for this route. (The Daihatsu Copen is the only car available at this particular location.) Leaving the city of Matsuyama and following the road southeast, the route took me through Furuiwaya, officially designated as a national place of scenic beauty, and continued on to the entrance of Ishizuchi Skyline. I followed the road on the climb up the mountain, all the while enjoying a splendid view of the majestic Mt. Ishizuchi, and then continued on to the backwoods and roads of Kamegamori.

Known locally as “The UFO Line”, the Kamogamori road takes you on a winding path between the peaks of the mountain range which is 1600-1700m above sea level. All the secrets of this mystical route are exposed in the 360º video below. Driving here and enjoying the expansive panorama of the scenery really gives you a great feeling. There is also a nice trekking path along the ridges which offers particularly amazing views. You can even see Mt. Ishizuchi. 

Needless to say, throughout the whole route you have a splendid view of Mt. Ishizuchi. Locations with particularly great views have parking areas, which are excellent spots for taking commemorative photos with your convertible.

360º video real-life driving experience

We have prepared several 360º videos, so you can have a real-life experience looking at the surrounding scenery while driving a convertible. Please have a look.

If you are unable to play the video, or would like to use a larger screen, press the YouTube button in the lower left and open the video in the YouTube app.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of what a drive through the spectacular Setouchi scenery in a convertible can offer. The Setouchi region has plenty of other routes in addition to the four presented here. As well as coastline routes across the islands, there are also roads that take you through expansive fields and panoramic mountain vistas. The region might be somewhat small, but the possibilities are numerous, and you can enjoy both the ocean and mountains on the same day.

At your next opportunity, rent a convertible and go for a liberating and refreshing drive in Setouchi!

Heisei Car Rentals

Address: Kojima-ekimae 4-1, Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture

Business Hours: 8:00 – 19:00

Open: Everyday

Prices: Mazda Roadster – 12 hours 16,038 yen

Honda S660 – 12 hours 9,623 yen

Daihatsu COPEN – 12 hours 6,804 yen

Branch TEL:

Okayama Airport – 0120-200-389

Okayama Station – 0120-319-389

Kojima Station – 0120-104-389

Takamatsu Airport – 0120-159-389

Takamatsu Station – 0120-660-389

Matsuyama Airport – 0120-080-389

There are other locations as well. Please confirm the addresses on the homepage.

Parking: Available. (For Okayama Station and Takamatsu Station, please use the toll parking lot)

Nearest stations: JR Okayama Station, JR Takamatsu Station, etc.

https://www.heisei-car.jp

—————————–

Route 1 – Shimanami Kaido Sightseeing Spots

Itoyama Park 

Route 2 – Great Seto Bridge Sightseeing Spots

The Great Seto Bridge Sky Tour

Mt. Washu

Shimotsui

Route 3 – Shodoshima Island Sightseeing Spots

Angel Road 

Kankakei Gorge 

Route 4 – Ishizuchi Skyline Sightseeing Spots

Kamegamori

Heisei Car Rentals Info -JA

Traveling Setouchi In a Rental Camping Car

Sanuki Udon Roundtrip In a Rental Car

 

Photographs & Text by Hironobu Matsuoka

Give us your Like

Keywords

Written by

Hironobu Matsuoka

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'.

http://www.healing-japan.tv/

Art Ranking

See more articles about "Art"

ArtList

Ranking

 

Keyword

 

Area Search

 

Features

 

Feature
PAGE TOP