• Cruise the Highlights of Western Setouchi by Boat, Bicycle and Scenic Train


Cruise the Highlights of Western Setouchi by Boat, Bicycle and Scenic Train

Recommended Length: 5 Days

This five-day itinerary takes you on an incredible journey through the historical townscapes and scenery of the Seto Inland Sea. Take a cruise to the heart of the Shimanami Kaido and enjoy overnight stays on the sacred island of Miyajima, in the shadow of a samurai castle, and at one of Japan’s oldest hot springs, before jumping on a ferry to continue your Japan adventure in Kyushu.

Day 1
Miyajima and Hiroshima

Travel: Osaka to Miyajima

・Take the Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station (Approx 1 hour 30 minutes).
・Take a local train from Hiroshima Station to Miyajima-guchi Station (Approx 30 minutes).
・Take a ferry from Miyajima-guchi to Miyajima (Approx 10 minutes)

Explore the sacred island of Miyajima

Itsukushima at High Tide

Daishoin Temple Henjokutsu

Mt Misen

A sacred site since time immemorial, originally built in its current form some 800 years ago, Itsukushima Shrine on the island of Miyajima is the first of two UNESCO World Heritage Site on this itinerary. The huge vermilion shrine gate which stands in the water is one of the most iconic sights in Japan. Be sure to check tide time on the day of your visit. The sight of Itsukushima Shrine and the “floating” shrine gate at high tide is one that will never be forgotten. Low tide offers the opportunity to walk out to see the towering shrine gate up close.

The area around the shrine is crowded with many ancillary temples and shrines which well-illustrate the long interconnected history of Buddhism and Shinto before separation was enforced in 1868. Overlooking Itsukushima Shrine is the impressively unfinished Senjyokaku 1000 Mat Pavilion and the Five-storied Pagoda which stands next to it. At the base of Mt. Misen (also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the fascinating Shingon Buddhist temple complex of Daishoin.

Kimono and culture workshops in a local temple


OKEIKO Japan offers opportunities to dress in authentic kimono and experience tea ceremony, calligraphy and even cooking, within the confines of a pretty temple.

URL: https://okeiko-japan.com/en

Eat your way around Miyajima

Miyajima Omotesando shopping street

A big draw for visitors to Miyaima is the wide variety of restaurants and street food available. Local specialities such as plump grilled oysters, conger eel and maple leaf shaped Momiji-manju sweet bean cakes can be had along lively Omotesando, while a more relaxed vibe can be enjoyed on the quieter Machiya Street which runs parallel to Omotesando. Miyajima Brewery serves craft beer brewed on site with good views of the great shrine gate.

Travel: Miyajima to Hiroshima

・Take the ferry from Miyajima to Miyajima-guchi (Approx 10 minutes)
・Take the local train from Miyajima-guchi Station to Hiroshima Station (Approx 30 minutes)

World Heritage Sea Route
High speed ferries make the journey between Hiroshima’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in approximately 45 minutes. Ferries leave for Hiroshima from the pier next to the main passenger ferry terminal. Please check the website as schedules change according to the tides.

URL: http://www.aqua-net-h.co.jp/en/heritage/

Make a peace pilgrimage to the site of the world’s first A-bomb attack

Visiting Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, Peace Memorial Museum and Atomic Bomb Dome Memorial World Heritage Site is a sobering and often emotional experience. If time allows, seek out a quiet spot among the trees to reflect on the experience before returning to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Hiroshima A-bomb Dome

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Cenotaph

Hiroshima Okonomiyaki

There is no better place to experience how welcoming the people of Hiroshima are, than at the grill in a local okonomiyaki shop. It is no exaggeration that most of Hiroshima’s population was raised on this hearty layered pancake and watching it being prepared by a veteran chef is as entertaining as the finished dish is delicious. Vegan diners can also enjoy the full okonomiyaki experience at Nagataya and Jirokichi.

Bar hopping in Eki Nishi

To raise a glass with the locals after dark, head to Eki Nishi, a small area crammed with bars and eateries next to Hiroshima Station.

Accommodation: Hilton Hiroshima

A short taxi ride from Hiroshima Station and within walking distance of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the Hilton Hiroshima is the perfect place to base yourself during a visit to Hiroshima. With well-appointed, modern rooms, and excellent guest facilities, the Hilton Hiroshima is a luxurious refuge in which to relax, recharge and ready yourself to explore the city or head to your next destination.

Four restaurants serve Japanese and international cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. In the Executive Lounge on the 22nd floor, guests can enjoy evening cocktails and light snacks, as well as a variety of beverages, while taking in the views over islands of the Seto Inland Sea and surrounding mountains.

A guest relations officer is also on hand to provide assistance with sightseeing and restaurant reservations. Take the relaxation up another level with a visit to the luxurious Spa by L’OCCITANE.

URL: Hilton Hiroshima

Day 2
Seto Inland Sea Cruise to Setoda

Travel: Hiroshima to Setoda (By Sea Spica Cruise Ship)

・Take a taxi from your hotel to Hiroshima Port (Approx 20 minutes) to board the Sea Spica Cruise Ship

Sea Spica Cruise to the Shimanami Kaido

Setouchi island cruising in style. Following in the footsteps of pirates and explorers, the SEA SPICA cruiser is the best way to take in picturesque Seto Inland Sea vistas and visit some hidden gems spots on the way to the Shimanami Kaido. Hop off to explore historical port towns such as of Sannose and Mitarai, where you can pick up local delicacies to enjoy on deck, and visit the bunnies Rabbit Island.

URL: https://setonaikaikisen.co.jp/simatabi/ (Japanese)


Calm waters of Setoda



Kosanji Temple in Setoda

Kojoji Temple pagoda in Setoda

Step off the boat and straight into the bright and airy Minatoya, part of the SOIL SETODA LIVING complex, for a lunch made with locally sourced ingredients before exploring this picturesque port town of Setoda. Wander the sleepy Shiomachi shopping street and check out the fascinating temple complex of Kosanji known for its colorful architectural motifs and serene atmosphere. Finally, quieten the mind with Zen meditation and sutra copying at Kojoji Temple.

Accommodation: Azumi Setoda

When it became known that the founder of Aman resorts, Adrian Zecha, was to be involved in the restoration of a 140-year-old former home of a wealthy salt merchant, the whole region was abuzz with excitement. The resulting Azumi Setoda respects and maintains the style of the original buildings while providing exceptional levels of comfort that will satisfy the most discerning of travelers. Four types of rooms are built around a calming courtyard, each with its own bathtub made of cypress wood, including two-story maisonette accommodation. Expert chefs prepare French-inspired meals made with local ingredients sourced as far as possible from within 50km.

URL: https://azumi.co/setoda/

Day 3
Shimanami Kaido and Dogo Onsen

Travel: Setoda to Imabari

・E-bike or charter taxi

Shimanami Kaido cycling

Oyamazumi Shirine on Omishima Island

Cruise some of the prettiest sections of the Shimanami Kaido cycling route by E-bike. E-bike rentals and transportation (by car, van or boat) can be arranged through WAKKA, based on neighboring Omishima. Stick to the “Blue Line” to ride the Shimanami Kaido all the way to Imabari or take a detour from the main route to explore Omishima across the impressive Tatara Bridge. Omishima is also home to visit the charming Oyamazumi Shrine, a sacred site renowned for its impressive collection of samurai armor and weaponry, and art museums with incredible views along the undulating west coast.

Further along, on Oshima, learn about the history of the Murakami Suigun, seaborn samurai who controlled local waters, at the Murakami Suigun Museum. Cruises that take up close the the powerful, swirling currents that protected their island strongholds also leave from near here.

Crossing thethe 4km Kurushima Straits Bridges is a worthy climax to your Shimanami Kaido ride, but you can take the experience up another level on special tours to the top of one of the bridge’s 184m tall towers.

Travel: Imabari to Dogo Onsen

・ Take a Limited Express train from Imabari Station to Matsuyama Station (Approx 40 minutes)
・ Take a taxi from Matsuyama Station to Dogo Onsen (Approx 15 minutes)

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Beer

Dogo Onsen is one of Japan’s oldest hot spring resorts and the inspiration for Studio Ghibli’s film Spirited Away. The original hot spring onsen is still in operation and open to the public. They also offer guided tours around the facility, including a look at the special bath constructed exclusively for the emperor’s private use. Next to the onsen, you can enjoy a glass of locally brewed Dogo Beer while soaking your feet in a foot bath.

Accommodation: Yamatoya Besso

Nestled in the heart of Matsuyama, Yamatoya Besso is an elegant ryokan hotel steeped in Japanese tradition and hospitality. The ryokan's rooms are built entirely out of Japanese cypress creating a calming atmosphere. The attentive staff will welcome you and attend to your every need during your stay. You can also indulge in the culinary delights of Yamatoya Besso, where kaiseki meals are skillfully crafted with the finest local ingredients.

URL: https://yamatoyabesso.com

Day 4

Travel: Matsuyama to Ozu

Take in the scenery as you travel from Matsuyama to Ozu by train.

Limited express trains make the journey in just 35 minutes, but the Iyonada Monogatari scenic train provides a 2-hour ride in stylish, retro-modern surroundings on weekend and holiday mornings. Included is a 10-minute stop at picturesque Shimonada Station which overlooks the Seto Inland Sea and a beautifully presented breakfast is also available.

Iyonada Monogatari

URL: Iyonada Monogatari

Ozu Castle, Garyu Sanso and Tea, Ozu Castle Town and Pokopen Yokocho

Located in the south of Ehime Prefecture, Ozu is a charming castle town full of carefully preserved historical buildings. The beautifully reconstructed Ozu Castle stands on a hill by the Hijikawa River. Inside, you can explore exhibits on Ozu's history, which include displays of armor and artifacts from feudal Japan. The castle also famously offers overnight stays.

Garyu Sanso is an exquisite example of a traditional Japanese villa and garden. Furo-an, a tiny thatched-roof building located inside the garden and a favorite spot for photography enthusiasts, incorporates a living tree as one of its main pillars. Depending on the day of the week, Furo-an offers a special Japanese tea service.

Walk the streets of Ozu’s old town to connect with the past. Plenty of old merchant houses and samurai residences still stand in this picturesque town. Inside the old quarter, look out for the Pokopen Yokocho, a lively alley filled with retro memorabilia from the 1950s.


Retire to one of the historical buildings in Ozu’s castle town that have been expertly renovated by NIPPONIA to provide modern comforts while retaining the authentic design and atmosphere of the original buildings. Dinner is served at Le Un, where skilled chefs employ French cooking techniques to present a unique fusion that pays homage to the cuisine enjoyed by the feudal lords who once ruled the region from Ozu Castle, and, of course, makes great use of local ingredients. For breakfast, guests enjoy exclusive access to Ganryu Sanso. NIPPONIA also offers opportunities to experience the life of a feudal lord with premium castle stays. A truly unique experience!

URL: https://www.ozucastle.com

Day 5
Uchiko & Yawatahama

Travel: Ozu to Uchiko

・Take a local train from Ozu Station to Uchiko Station (Approx 15 minutes)

Washi Papermaking in Uchiko

A 15-min train ride to the east of Ozu is Uchiko, a historical town famous for its beeswax and paper production. Wander around the town’s historical preservation district to get a feel for life during its heyday over 100 years ago . Several places offer traditional washi paper making experiences, where visitors can learn about the process and create their own. wonderful souvenirs to take back home. The unique Ikazaki Kite Battle Festival is held here every May and the small but fun Ikazaki Kite Museum exhibits kites from around the world and offers kites to fly by the river free-of-charge.

Travel: Uchiko to Yawatahama

・Take a local train from Uchiko Station to Yawatahama Station (Approx 20 minutes)

Westward ho! Kyushu by ferry

About 20 minutes southwest of Uchiko by local train is the port town of Yawatahama. Ferries leave throughout the day to make the just under 3-hour crossings to Beppu and Usuki on Kyushu.

URL: https://www.uwajimaunyu.co.jp/english/

While you await your departure you can hang out at the excellent Yawatahama Minato Michi-no-eki which has all kinds of local crafts and foods on display and for sale - it’s a great place to stock up on snacks for your voyage to Kyushu. The produce in the seafood meals available at Douya Shokudo comes straight from the fish market next door, so freshness is guaranteed. For a more local vibe, head into the town center to sample the Chinese-inspired Chanpon noodle soup that is said to be the town’s soul food.