In 1962 Donald Richie went on an island hopping expedition and maintained a journal of his travels and exploits; he got this published as a book in the year 1971 and this is what the Times magazine had to say about it, “Earns (The book) its place on the very short shelf of books on Japan that are of permanent value.” As most of us would have guessed by now the book was on his travels through the islands of The Inland Sea, in fact it had the very same name on its cover too.
In this timeless work of his Richie says, “The islands of the Inland Sea are among
the last places on earth where men rise with the sun and where streets are dark and silent by nine at night. Here is the last of old Japan.”
A journey the place gives you a completely different perspective of the global image of Japan; The country of fastest trains, determined and continuously driven people, over crowded streets and shabby market places. What you find here, are few of the world’s most scenic coastal areas, people getting up and going down with the sun, a feeling of being closer to nature that you may not have ever felt before and above all peace and serenity, so intense that you can hear the breeze talk.
Known as The Seto Inland Sea, meaning The Mother Sea, it is separates three of the most important islands of the country, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu; it is also the largest inland sea in Japan. A moderate, year-round climate with non-erratic temperatures is an added attraction for tourists. The water body looks like a great, 450-kilometer-long, giant boot on the map and has had its shores connected, by bridges, most popular one of which is The Great Seto Bridge. The series of double deck bridges take about 20 minutes to get one from one side to another and are the longest two-tier bridge system in the world. The whole vicinity is sprinkled with site of tourist interest with the coastline being the most popular with tourist from outside Japan. The whole coast, barring a couple of prefectures has been declared as the Setonaikai National Park since 1934 and is one of the oldest National Parks in Japan. The location of the Inland Sea itself can be called to be in the Seto Inland Sea National Park in Okayama, with islands dotting view in every direction, some in proximity and others floating leisurely on the horizon. Some notable islands include a group of 13 islands of varying sizes called Hinase Islands; Ushimado or Maejima Island on the Aegean Sea provide for yacht harbours, olive gardens and wonderful swimming beaches; Mt. Kinkozan is breathtakingly beautiful observatory at a mountaintop and Shibukawa Beach, The largest swimming beach in Okayama Prefecture is one of the most popular beaches of Japan. Mt. Washuzan considered to be the most beautiful point in the entire National Park region and a designated beauty spot in Japan is famous for its many locations which enable people to enjoy views of the Seto Ohashi Bridge. A few other places which one cannot leave-out of his schedule are the picturesque Ojigatake Hill with its granite formations and a paragliding point located up the hill; Maejima Island is the place for water activities, training programs also available here; Mushiake offers you a never-seen-before view with tiny looking rafts floating over changing colours of the water. One may also find an UNESCO World Heritage Site in form of the Itsukushima Shrine, in proximity; The Island of olives or Shodoshima and the Naruto whirlpools are two other well-known tourist sites.
Transport to Inland Sea
The main international airport is Kansai International Airport south of Osaka, but some of the other airports have international flights too, mainly to nearby Asian countries. Goes without saying, that, the global case of earlier the booking, cheaper the tickets applies here too. The main airlines are ANA and JAL and airports are also located at Osaka, Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi-Ube, Takamatsu, Matsuyama and Oita.
One would find the Shinkansen train running along the Honshu mainland coast of the Seto Inland Sea.
Ferries connect Osaka/Kobe with Matsuyama (Shikoku) and Beppu / Oita (Kyushu) – providing a easy and cheap way to travel simultaneously enjoying all what the region is famous for. Transport in the region. The most prominent rail network is provided by Japan Railways. The JR Sanyo line runs East-West. Ticket sets of 5, for a day’s travel can be attained at several times of year with affordable rates. By Ship and Ferry With even the smallest of islands having several ports the high-speed lines in the waters make a elaborate maze. English sign boards are hard to find and larger boats running between Honshu and Shikoku are the best bet. There are water taxies too for not-so-costly rates; these are normally used to jump for one island to the next one. The usual transportation on the islands like buses and streetcars run on most of the populated islands. Cycling is also a very popular way of travelling on the islands, as being easily mobile and handy they give a very distinct experience of exploration. The whole region has small to large restaurants in plentiful and almost any kind of cuisine is readily available, that said, in the smaller not so popular spots most travellers eat at their accommodation so finding restaurants can be really tricky after sunset. Activities in the Inland Sea are a vast array of options to choose form; the 3000 islands and vast stretches of pristine waters make it a paradise for people who love yachting and sailing. The tides change every six hours but it is still one of the most popular navigation spots of Japan. Many fisheries are active in the area year round and attract a lot of people and fishing vessels. There are a lot of different kinds of fish depending upon the season. Sea kayaking with more than 700 floating islands of the Seto Inland Sea is an adventure to be absorbed by all the five senses, which also, easily makes for a life time memory. Motorboats and PWCs are available for people who prefer more speed in less effort. As in any place with natural beauty cycling, hiking and trekking remain an all-time favourite activity. These havens of natural purity are the dream spots for a variety of people who seek sanctuary in Mother Nature’s lap; people who want and need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, people form whom holidays are not about the destination but the entire journey, people who enjoy the art of nature and the unmatchable serenity it offers to one and all.