2020.3.4
Art

A continual stream of natural beauty which will make your heart tremble! The eastern drive route covers the best viewing spots in Okayama, Hyogo, and Tokushima

The sea, the bridges, and the mountains…! A trip where you can fully enjoy the great views of Setouchi.

If you would like to fully enjoy your road trip in Japan, we recommend this route which passes through Okayama, Hyogo, and Tokushima Prefectures. Here you will discover a lot of the scenic beauty of Japan.
You can experience the many fascinations of Japan, a castle, Japanese gardens, great bridges, and local foods.
Let’s go to a five-day road trip, starting from Hiroshima Airport and ending at Takamatsu Airport.

Spot 1

Arriving at Hiroshima Airport, staying in Hiroshima or Okayama

DAY 1

Hongo IC to Okayama IC

Spot 2

This is Japanese beauty! “Okayama Castle” and “Okayama Korakuen” (Okayama-shi, Okayama)

DAY 2

At first, let’s go see a Japanese castle and a Japanese garden. Okayama Castle, which is a beautiful black color, and Okayama Korakuen, located on the riverbank opposite of the castle.
Cherry blossoms in spring, fall colors in autumn…, any season you go, you can see beautiful scenery here.
Cute “Peach Boats” allow you to see the castle from the river and are now popular on SNS!

Okayama Castle
Address/2-3-1, Marunouchi, Kita-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama
Open/9:00– 17:30
Closed/December 29th to 31st
Admission fee/320yen for adults
https://okayama-kanko.net/ujo/english/index.html

Okayama Korakuen
Address/1-5, Korakuen, Kita-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama
Open/7:30– 18:00 (March 20 – September 30)
8:00– 17:00 (October 1 – March 19)
Fee/410 yen for adults, 140 yen for seniors (65 years old or older), and free for high school students or younger
https://okayama-korakuen.jp/section/english/index.html

Spot 3

“Bara-zushi,” a special local dish (Okayama)

DAY 2

You must try “Bara-zushi” if you come to Okayama.
“Bara-zushi” is just like a “chirashi-zushi” which is a sushi in a bowl with a variety of ingredients sprinkled on top.
Thinly shredded egg omelet, vegetables and seafood on top of the rice seasoned with vinegar.
You can taste various kinds of cuisine from the sea and land.

> Kakushi Sushi (Hidden Sushi): A Famous Okayama Dish Born in Defiance of a Frugal Daimyo’s Decree!?

Okayama IC to Hayashima IC

Spot 4

Fruit picking where you can taste high quality fruit (Okayama)

DAY 2

Production of fruit is one of big industries in Okayama due to its temperate climate.
You can experience things like picking peaches between July and the beginning of September, and grapes between July and October.

Hayashima IC to Kojima IC

Spot 5

“Kojima Jeans Street” is a mecca for Japan Denim. (Kurashiki-shi, Okayama)

DAY 2

There are a lot of jeans shops on Jeans Street in the Kojima area in Kurashiki City, Okayama.
There are not only jeans shops, but also cafes and variety stores in this area.

Kojima Jeans Street
Address/Kojima-ajino, Kurashiki-shi

> Kojima Jeans Street – Weaving History from the World’s Finest Denim

Spot 6

Staying overnight in the Washuzan area (Kurashiki-shi, Okayama)

DAY 2

“Washuzan” is a mountain which faces the Seto Inland Sea, and its name means “the mountain of eagle’s wings” because the shape of the mountain.
Ease your tiredness after a day of driving at a place where you can see the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea with its many islands and the Seto Ohashi Bridge.

Kojima IC to Bizen IC

Spot 7

Will your wish for romance come true at “Ushimado and Kuroshima Venus Road!? ” (Setouchi-shi, Okayama)

DAY 3

There is an 800m long sand road which appears only at the low tide between Kuroshima, Nakanokoshima, and Hashinokoshima.
You can walk on this road for only a 2-hour time span during the day.
There is a heart-shaped stone which is called “the heart of the goddess” on the road.
And it is said that if you touch this stone, your affection will be accepted by the one you love.

Ushimado and Kuroshima Venus Road!?
Address/Ushimado-kuroshima, Ushimado-cho, Setouchi-shi, Okayama

Bizen IC to Sanyo Himeji-nishi IC

Spot 8

The famous “too beautiful” Himeji Castle (Himeji-shi, Hyogo)

DAY 3

Himeji Castle should be the first place to visit when you arrive in Hyogo Prefecture.
This is a kind of miracle, in that you can see the original castle which has avoided the fires of war for 400 years. The traditional castle architecture has been almost perfectly preserved here.
This castle is also called the “white egret castle” because its shape resembles a white egret spreading its wings.

Himeji Castle
Address/68, Honmachi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo
Opens/9:00– 16:00
Closed/December 29 and 30
https://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/castle/index.html

Spot 9

Have lunch at a restaurant with a view of a beautiful Japanese garden. “Restaurant Kassui-ken” (in Koko-en)

DAY 3

After visiting such a beautiful castle, let’s have a lunch at a restaurant in a Japanese garden.
“Restaurant Kassui-ken” is located inside of the Japanese garden “Koko-en” which is next to Himeji Castle.
You can enjoy popular Japanese dishes, such as soba (buckwheat noodles), udon (white wheat noodles), tempura, a bowl of rice topped with conger-eel, and so on.

Koko-en
Address/68, Honmachi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo
Open/9:00 – 17:00
Closed/December 29 and 30
http://www.himeji-machishin.jp/ryokka/kokoen/en/index.php

Restaurant Kassui-ken (in Koko-en)
Open/10:00– 16:30

Sanyo Himeji-higashi IC to Kobe-nishi IC

Spot 10

Spectacular scenery from the “Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge” (Kobe-shi, Hyogo)

DAY 3

Our next destination is the “Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge,” which is the longest span bridge in the world.
You should try the “Bridge World for Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge,” a walking tour of the bridge. This tour takes you to the top of the bridge, which you can experience only in Sydney, Australia and here.

Bridge World for Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge (reservations required)
Parking lot/Use the parking lot for Hyogo Maiko Park
Tour Dates/Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and National holidays between April 1st and November 30th. The tour is held twice a day.
Fee/3,100 yen for adults
https://www.jb-honshi.co.jp/english/bridgeworld/index.html

> Akashi Kaikyo Bridge – Climbing the Tallest and Longest Suspension Bridge in the World

Tarumi IC to Higashiura IC

Spot 11

The overwhelming and vast panoramic view of “Awaji Hanasajiki” (Awaji-shi, Hyogo)

DAY 3

“Awaji Hanasajiki” is a big flower garden on the hill which overlooks the sea.
The site area is about 15 hectares, so please let this vast panorama of flowers embrace you against the background of Akashi Strait and Osaka Bay.

Awaji Hanasajiki
Address/2865-4, Kusumoto, Awaji-shi, Hyogo
Open/9:00– 17:00
http://www.hyogo-park.or.jp/hanasajiki/

Higashiura IC to Awajishima-minami IC *SEP excluded area

Spot 12

Nice tasting “Awajishima Burger” at Michi-no-Eki.

DAY 3

You definitely have to stop by “Michi-no-Eki Uzushio” to have an “Awajishima Burger.”
A deep-fried thick onion slice topped with salty-sweet simmered Awaji-beef and tomato make a good combination.
The tomato sauce in the burger also has a rich taste and is delicious.
*”Michi-no-Eki” means a roadside station which is a government-designated rest area found along roads and highways.

Awajishima Onion Kitchen (at Michi-no-Eki Uzushio)
Address/947-22, Fukura-hei, Minamiawaji-shi, Hyogo
Open/9:30 – 16:30(L.O.), open at 9:00 on weekends and national holidays
Closed/Thursdays(Sometimes open on Thursday), 31st of December and 1st of January

> The Buzz About Burgers on Awaji

Spot 13

Staying in Awajishima

DAY 3

Awajishima is the biggest island in the Seto Inland Sea.
This island is called “flower island” and is surrounded by rich nature and has a warm climate.
You can find various kinds of accommodations such as luxurious hotels and unique inns where you can relax.

Awaji Island Tourism Guide
https://www.awajishima-kanko.jp/en/

Awajishima-Minami IC to Naruto-Kita IC

Spot 14

Walking “beyond” Naruto whirlpools at “Uzu no Michi” (Naruto-shi, Tokushima)

DAY 4

The tidal currents in Naruto Strait are among the best three tidal currents in the world, so you must see them when you visit Tokushima.
“Uzu-no-Michi” is a promenade on the Ohnaruto Bridge, which crosses the strait. It has a view of the whirlpools underneath from a 45-meter high viewpoint.
You can also choose a whirlpool sightseeing boat to see them up close.

Ohnaruto Bridge Uzu no Michi
Address/Naruto-cho, Naruto-shi, Tokushima (in Naruto Park)
Open/9:00– 18:00 *Changes depending on the season
Closed/On the second Monday in March, June, September, and December
Admission fee/Adults 510 yen
Parking lot/Use the coin-operated parking at Naruto Park
https://www.uzunomichi.jp/lang_en/

Naruto-Kita IC to Tokushima IC *The section between Naruto-Kita IC and Naruto IC is excluded from SEP

Spot 15

You can experience Awa-Odori all year round at “Awaodori Kaikan.” (Tokushima-shi, Tokushima)

DAY 4

The most famous event in Tokushima is “Awa-Odori,” the traditional dance festival with more than 400 years of history.
The festival is held on August 12th to 15th every year, and more than 1 million people come to see this event from all over the world.
You can see and experience this exciting Awa-Odori every day, all year round at “Awaodori Kaikan.”

Awaodori Kaikan
Address/2-20, Shinmachibashi, Tokushima-shi, Tokushima
Open/9:00– 21:00 *Changes on the year-end and New Year’s holiday
Closed/December 28th to January 1st, the second Wednesday in February, June, and October (closed on Thursday when the Wednesday is a national holiday)
https://awaodori-kaikan.jp/en/

Spot 16

Must-eat! “Tokushima Ramen”

DAY 4

Tokushima Ramen is one of the local dishes which has drawn many people’s attention!
Its characteristic points are pork bones, a soy sauce-based thick brown soup, salty-sweet thinly-sliced pork belly and a raw egg as the topping.
There are 3 kinds of Tokushima Ramen soups, “brown,” “white,” and “yellow.”
Which one will be your favorite?

Spot 17

Feel “Japan Blue” at “Ai-no-Yakata.” (Aizumi-cho, Itano-gun, Tokushima)

DAY 4

“Awa-ai (indigo)” is known as the world-famous “Japan Blue,” and its story was designated as one of “Japanese Heritage” in 2019.
You can experience indigo dyeing by making your own handkerchief and so on, and it can be a good souvenir from your trip.

Ai-no-Yakata
Address/172, Maezu-nishi, Tokumei, Aizumi-cho, Itano-gun, Tokushima
Open/9:00〜17:00
Closed/Tuesdays (opens for national holidays), between 28th of December and 1st of January
Admission fee/Adults 300 yen *An additional fee is required for the indigo dyeing experience

> Indigo Dyeing – Enjoy an hour wrist deep in Japanese history

Aizumi IC to Wakimachi IC

Spot 18

Get the feel of Japanese traditional culture at “Udatsu-no-Machinami.” (Wakimachi, Mima-shi, Tokushima)

DAY 4

This street has old traditional Japanese houses with unique “udatsu” which are the roof extensions used as wing walls to prevent fires.
When you walk on the Udatsu street, maybe you will feel as if you have been transported back through time.
There are some shops where you can experience making a lampshade in the shape of Japanese umbrella, and so on.

Udatsu-no-Machinami
Address/Oaza-wakimachi, Wakimachi, Mima-shi, Tokushima
Parking lot/Use the parking lot of “Michi-no-Eki Ai-land Udatsu.”

> Udatsu Old Street, Traditional Japanese Architecture and History in Mima (Tokushima)

Wakimachi IC to Ikawa-Ikeda IC

Spot 19

Staying in the Oboke area and Iya hot spring village (Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima)

DAY 4

Iya is one of the three secluded lands in Japan.
This area has many inns that have unique hot springs. There is an open-air bath located in the valley only accessible by cable-car, an open-air bath where you can overlook the beautiful gorge below, and so on.

Oboke area and Iya hot spring village
https://www.oboke-iya.jp/en/

Spot 20

100% thrilling experience at “Iya-no-Kazurabashi.” (Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima)

DAY 5

“Iya-no-Kazurabashi” is one of the symbols of Iya valley, a suspension bridge made of vines over the river. With a length of 45 meters, a width of 2 meters and standing 14 meters above the water, this bridge will thrill you as you go forward step by step.

Iya-no-Kazurabashi
Address/162-2, Zentoku, Nishi-Iyayama-son, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima

> The secret of suspension bridge “Iya”, one of three most secluded areas in Japan : Iya (Miyoshi, Tokushima)

Spot 21

Departure from Takamatsu Airport

DAY 5


Doesn’t it seem like an exciting trip?
If you use the route in this article, you can save 6,710 yen from the regular fee of 17,360 yen (not using an ETC card) for 4 days, from the day 1 in Hiroshima to day 4 in Tokushima!

The driving routes which we have recommended are a total of 3 plans (there are other 2 routes).
Please check all of them and enjoy a road trip using SEP service in San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku.

【Articles】
> The must-have item is your camera! The western drive route includes photogenic spots in Kagawa, Kochi, Ehime, and Hiroshima
> Visiting the well-known “power spots” where mystical energy flows! This northern drive route visits temples, shrines, and cultural heritage sites in Tottori, Shimane, and Yamaguchi

You can take a road trip in San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku in Japan with a discounted toll service.

Cherry blossoms in spring, the sea in summer, the fall colors in autumn, and snow in winter….
Japan has beautiful scenery, and you can cherish each place as it changes its expression from season to season.
If you would like to see various photogenic spots and ease your body and mind during your travels in Japan, then visiting San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku area by car will be the best way!

But maybe you are concerned about the expressways tolls?
Well, don’t worry.
Let’s use a service called the “San’in-Setouchi-Shikoku Expressway Pass (SEP),” provided by “NEXCO WEST,” which is the company that has jurisdiction over expressways in western Japan.
SEP is a flat-rate expressway toll service good for 3 to 10 days!
With this in mind, you can feel free to plan a road trip in the San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku areas, right?

> You can use the expressways with a flat-rate toll! Take a “road trip” in San’in, Setouchi, and Shikoku with this good value for tolls on expressways. / San’in-Setouchi-Shikoku Expressway Pass

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