TRIP TO SETOUCHI
Shodoshima is the second largest island next to Awaji Island in the Seto Inland Sea area. Similarly to Sado Island in eastern Japan, Shodo Island in western Japan has a long history and many folk customs. It is dotted with picturesque places and movie locations, as well.
More than 100 years have passed since the first olive tree was planted there. The hillside is a sea of olive trees. Enjoy walking around and checking out original goods of olive oil in Olive Park. Olive hamachi(young yellowtail) and olive beef, which are produced from fish and cattle fed on olives, are also gaining attention in recent years.
The island is famous as the setting of Twenty-four Eyes, a movie based on the same title novel written by female writer Sakae Tsuboi (1899-1967). At Misaki no Bunkyojo (setting of a school in the movie) in Twenty-four Eyes Movie Village, you can feel the atmosphere of an earlier generation. The film is also screened in a mini-theater there.
When you walk around Hishio no Sato, streets with many soy sauce factories, you will smell the fresh scent of soy sauce. Making soy sauce in Shodoshima has about a 400-year history and the factories and the storehouses are still operating since being built 100 years ago. You can find impressive black roof tiles and walls as a result of mold of soy sauce. Some factories allow a tour if you make a reservation. Enjoy taking a walk and soy sauce sweets. You can experience a process of making somen (thin wheat noodles) called “hashiwake.” Somen is also a specialty food of the island. A reservation is required.
Meiro no Machi has narrow alleys like a labyrinth because such a layout was considered to protect the town from pirates of the Seto Inland Sea in the past. The Dofuchi Strait is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s narrowest strait. A sand beach that is available for walking from Shodo Island only when the tide is out is called “Angel Road,” and is considered a spiritual “power spot.” The breathtaking scenery of Kankakei Gorge is also a can’t-miss place.
Naoshima is known as an island of art. Contemporary art fits in with natural beauty. There are many places to visit on the island: museums such as Benesse House Museum, Chichu Art Museum and Lee Ufan Museum, all of which are designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando; Art House Project where you can visit seven sites open to the public; and Naoshima bath “I♥湯”. Good for both strolling and art appreciation, as many works of art are placed in various locations around the island.
Teshima is an another art island after Naoshima. Uniting the creative visions of artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa, Teshima Art Museum incorporates wind, sound, and light into the inside of the building, exhibiting countless shifting appearances as time passes or the seasons change. As re-entry is permitted on the same day, visiting several times is recommended. Teshima Yokoo House, a collaboration between artist Tadanori Yokoo and architect Yuko Nagayama, was created by altering and renovating an old private house, and not only representative paintings but also installations are exhibited in a garden and inside a tower, the whole property itself being an art space. Bicycle rental is recommended as the best way for looking around the island, enjoying the scenery of the Seto Inland Sea, and rice terraces. Shima Kitchen is a restaurant that provides delicious local food where you can’t help lingering because of the comfortable atmosphere. From the observatory of Mt. Dan-yama, you can enjoy beautiful island views of the Seto Inland Sea.
Other Islands In addition, there are so
many other attractive islands in the Seto Inland Sea, such as Inujima, Megijima, Ogijima, Honjima, Awashima, and Ibukijima, where Setouchi Triennale 2016 is to take place from March 2016.
Rated three stars in Michelin Green Guide Japan, Ritsurin Garden is one of the largest gardens in Japan. Having ceremonial tea in a teahouse, or taking a Japanese-style boat cruise would also be a memorable experience.
Yashima (mountain) is known for an historic battle in the 12th century between the two powerful warrior groups of those days, namely the Heike (Taira family) and the Genji (Minamoto family). From the top of the mountain, you can command a grandstand view of the sea. Yashima-ji Temple is the 84th temple of the Shikoku Pilgrimage route of 88 temples. Make a visit to Shikoku Mura, an open-air architectural park in which 33 old folk houses and storehouses from around Shikoku have been moved and restored.
Mure-cho in Takamatsu City is a production area of granite, considered the world’s most valuable stones. There are about 300 stone factories and when Mure Genpei Ishi-Akari Road, a night festival is held, soft light from stone lanterns illuminate the roads for two months in every summer (from Aug 8-Sep 19 in 2015).
Great Seto Bridge
Great Seto Bridge spans the Seto Inland Sea. The splendid view of the bridge can be seen from Mt. Washu and the bridge is illuminated on Sundays and Japanese holidays. From Overnight Train Sunrise Seto (from Tokyo), you can see the sunrise when crossing the bridge if you are lucky. When you take Marine Liner, getting a window seat is recommended. You can see beautiful scenery of islands dotting the sea from the train when crossing the bridge, which takes about one hour.
Ushimado is called “the Aegean in Japan.” From the observatory in Olive Garden, you will encounter the lovely landscape of the Seto Inland Sea.
Shizutani School was a school for common people built during the 17th-18th centuries and directly run by the Okayama domain. Surrounded by mountains, most of its buildings are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan and the auditorium is the only Japanese National Treasure as a school building. Traditional Bizen ware pottery is used for its roof tiles.
Bizen ware is a type of Japanese pottery that is rustic and characterized by the absence of glaze and painting. As there are many Bizen ware potteries and galleries in the village of Imbe, you can look around the kilns and even try your hand at making Bizen ware yourself, if you wish.
Okayama is one of the low-rainfall areas in Japan and therefore famous for good fruits. Let’s go fruit picking, such as for white peaches, Muscat and Pione grapes, etc.
Don’t forget to eat udon noodles in Kagawa Prefecture, which are characterized their chewiness. Note that some udon restaurants are run by noodle factories and most of them are closed on Sunday. Honetsukidori means roasted chicken thighs with bone, which go well with beer. You can find it at restaurants and also izakaya pubs. You can enjoy different seasoning in different restaurants, and also different taste depending on whether the chicken is young or old. Ozoni rice-cake soup on New Year’s Day in Kagawa uniquely uses white-type miso soup and rice cakes with sweet bean paste.
In Hinase, a place famous for oysters, in Bizen City, Okayama Prefecture, one of the trendiest casual foods is kakioko, a type of okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza) with a lot of oysters. The rich flavor of oysters goes well with okonomiyaki sauce. (Kakioko is available from late October to early April.)
Tokyo Station >>> Okayama Station : 3 hr 20 min by JR NOZOMI shinkansen
Haneda #Airport >>> Okayama Airport : 1 hr 20 min by plane >>> Okayama Station : 30 min by bus
Tokyo Station>>> Takamatsu Station : 9 hr 30 min by Overnight Train Sunrise Seto
Haneda Airport / Narita Airport >>> Takamatsu Airport : 1 hr 20-30 min by plane >>>
Takamatsu station : 45 min by bus
Okayama Station >>> Takamatsu Station : 1 hr by Marine Liner
See below for directions from Okayama or Takamatsu to each island area.
Okayamaken Kanko Renmei http : //www.okayama-kanko.jp/
Kagawa Prefecture Tourism Association http : //www.my-kagawa.jp/
Benesse Art SiteNaoshima http : //www.benesse-artsite.jp/access/index.html
*When going to islands, be aware that there are some shipping companies which have different ports, landing places, and timetables.