Setouchi Areato Photo Writer List
Available Write Up: 135
It’s not every day you get to communicate with a demon. But heading out to Kibitsu-jinja Shrine in Okayama Prefecture, that’s exactly what’s on the menu for me and my partner today. But I’m trying to play it cool, reading an old book on the train to Kibi.
“Hiroshima has a blank history,” says Akiko Goto, Public Relations Officer at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (Hiroshima MOCA). “Because we lost everything from our past in the bombing, we have to look to the future. And what better way to envision that future than through art?”
From ancient times, the Nishi-Awa district was the crossroads of Shikoku Island with its four domains (‘shi’ = four, ‘koku’ = domain). Located in the mountainous heart of Shikoku, anyone travelling between the domains would pass through this area. Today, roads have been cut along the low-lying river valleys.
The three-day trip we map out here introduces some of the very best aesthetically, physically, and intellectually rich time-slip experiences to be found anywhere in Japan. From working up a sweat dancing to making noodles, paddling furiously in river rapids, or visiting some of the most exquisite traditional gardens and castles remaining in Japan, this trip has something to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Blessed with spectacular scenery, the Setouchi region provides the visitor with a range of opportunities both to get physical and to enjoy a relaxing experience of traditional Japan, far from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
The climate of Okayama and Kagawa Prefectures is so gentle that the region truly lives up to the designation “Hare no Kuni,” “The Land of Clear Skies.” Part of the charm of this region lies in the harmony between the gorgeous scenery and tranquil environment of the Seto Inland Sea, and the artistically designed gardens and historical architecture which blends organically with this exquisite environment. For those seeking a more relaxed pace, this itinerary offers a journey around some of the most beautiful areas of Setouchi, allowing you to experience the healing touch of art and nature.
Cycling is an ideal way to travel the islands and coastlines of the Seto Inland Sea. The Shimanami Kaido route comes with a designated cycling lane and crosses 70 km of islands and bridges. It connects Onomichi on the mainland to Imabari and Shikoku in the south. This itinerary will take you on a journey through some of the finest scenery in the region. Breathe in the fresh sea air, climb on your bicycle, and set off on your voyage of discovery.
The Setouchi region offers products and experiences unavailable even elsewhere in Japan. This itinerary rounds up a number of these in a convenient three-day package. It takes you to Kojima Jeans Street, a unique area focused entirely on high-quality Japanese denim, offers some unmissable sights both natural and historical, immerses you in the culture of the Japanese sword, offers relaxation in inns with a flavor of old Japan, and tempts the taste buds with local specialties such as Kobe beef and Nada sake.
Join high profile travel blogger Kelley Ferro as she discovers the rich culture, amazing nature, and pure fun awaiting on Shikoku island, the center of Setouchi.
The Setouchi region is so blessed with attractive places to visit and activities that it can sometimes feel difficult to decide on a destination, or put together a realistic schedule to fulfill your traveling ambitions. With that in mind, the staff here at Setouchi Reflection Trip have put their heads together to create a five-day tour of the western part of Setouchi designed for travelers wanting a broad introduction to the best of the region.
Blessed with a mild climate and abundant nature, Setouchi is a treasure trove of gourmet foods made from the best that the bountiful land and rich sea have to offer. Taking a food-focused journey through the Seto Inland Sea provides an opportunity to give your taste buds an experience they will long remember. Join us as we take you through just one possible permutation of a “foodies’ delight trip in Setouchi.” A feast for the senses served with a generous helping of cultural discovery.
A leisurely stroll through one of Japan’s most exquisite gardens sets the stage for a succession of historical and cultural sites on Shikoku island, the far shore of the Setouchi region. Over a three-day period, you can experience the history and culture thriving in the least visited of Japan’s main islands. Join us and discover that the gardens, architecture, food, and historical monuments do not merely exist in the background of everyday life on Shikoku, but rather, help form the very fabric of daily life.
“I was raised on stories about seaplane pilots. My grandpa always said there are no finer people. Their hearts are washed clean by both sea and sky. So they’re braver than sailors, and prouder than regular pilots.”
The Setouchi region, replete with places of great historical and cultural value, contains no less than four UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a wealth of equally fascinating yet lesser-known spots nearby. In the three day journey we have mapped out here, you’ll encounter a magnificent castle, an iconic shrine, a timeless memorial for peace, and one of the most significant birthplaces of modern Japan. The historical and cultural richness of these sites will stimulate and inspire, but the journey itself holds just as many unplanned delights and discoveries that will have you wanting to dig even further into this fascinating part of Japan.
Settling into a car seat allows a completely different type of travel experience, one perfectly suited to the Setouchi region with its treasure trove of rich history and culture far removed from the hustle and bustle of large cities. Regardless of your destination, world-class roads, bridges and ferries make traveling by car safe, easy, and relaxing. Having the freedom of a vehicle allows you to tailor your own course, at your own pace, through scenic countryside steeped in history and alive with culture. It’s an ideal way to see and experience the very best of the Setouchi region. The road trip assembled here covers four prefectures in the Setouchi area, highlighting a wealth of designated cultural treasures, as well as some magnificent scenery. Whether you take to the road by yourself, or share the journey with those near and dear, the amazing array of opportunities for cultural appreciation, education and gorgeous scenery, will provide memories to treasure for a lifetime.
It appears like a mirage out of the darkness. A mass of lantern lights illuminate the Japanese tower and other traditional buildings on the roadside. Enormous decorative koi carps flutter in the breeze. On the other side of the road, hundreds of glowing lanterns form the Japanese character for ‘festival’. This is the famous Irori Sanzoku in Yamaguchi Prefecture - a restaurant complex where the beat of festival drums sounds all year long.
There’s nothing quite like a luxury stay at a traditional Japanese inn. Exceptional service, exquisitely prepared food of the highest order, long soaks in healing hot water, and all the other touches make each stay in these establishments, known in Japan as “ryokan,” a hotel experience unparalleled anywhere in the world. It couldn’t get any better right?
What do you get when you combine hills, temples, cats, and bicycles?
“I don’t like looking at sunsets anymore,” says Michiko Yamaoka. The story is her mother’s, but she tells it as if she were there.
The Setouchi region hosts some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Japan. From mountain tops to the seaside, the diversity and richness of nature will tantalize your eyes, ears, and tastebuds. Even with just a few days to spare, it's possible to experience the breadth and depth of this unique and beautiful part of Japan. Here we introduce our best selection for a three day trip.
In French, auberge means inn. “In France people will travel to distant, famous restaurants to enjoy their cuisine. And French lunches will often last three or four hours, so people tend to stay overnight.” The maître d explains when I ask, “People stay in auberge?”
The elevator motor whirs into life. Inside, small lights track our ascent to the top. As we approach 297m, the compact elevator comes to a halt with a clunk. We have arrived. After walking through the heavily reinforced steel structure, an automated ceiling hatch slowly begins to slide open. I was about to experience the highlight of the Bridge World tour on Akashi Kaikyo Bridge – the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.
Magnificent rock formations and tree-covered mountains line the gorge. A gentle current carries us down river. It is a picture of paradise. But perched on the side of the two-man inflatable, my heart is racing like a juggernaut.
The Hotel New Awaji Awaji Hamarikyu – or Hamarikyu for short – sits on Awaji Island that connects Osaka and Kobe to Shikoku. With its prime location looking out over the Seto Inland Sea and fronting a beautiful sandy beach, the hotel offers guests a chance to enjoy some of the best views in the region while relaxing in pure luxury.
Catching a taxi to the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art from downtown costs just 1,300 yen. Time-permitting, you could enjoy sea breezes while walking along the waterfront to the museum. I did the reverse, ending my visit with a twilight, weaving through joggers and strolling past the fishermen, as I followed the water back to the city center.
Hyogo prefecture produces 30 percent of all nihonshu, a.k.a. sake, in Japan. Famed for its pure, delicious water — a crucial ingredient in quality sake — the region continues to generate some of Japan’s most celebrated sakes. And with companies like Kiku-Masamune and Hakutsuru in the region, it’s no wonder.
Crossing the Seto Inland Sea by road, my friend proposed we break our trip in Ikuchijima island and visit the Kosan-ji temple complex. After a few minutes scrolling through my phone I was intrigued.
Alright, I’ll admit it — I’m an Onsen addict. I just love long soaks in mineral rich water, the heat of the water working its way down into bones, the feeling replenishment like a sponge squeezed dry — it gives me a feeling of lightness and purification. A seductive mix that has me constantly searching for opportunities to indulge.