Get Out On the Water in Setouchi – Japan’s Inland Sea
Check out these recommendations for top seven water-based sea adventures in the Setouchi region to mark World Oceans Day!
World Oceans Day takes place on 8th June, and will see hundreds of events take place all around the world to help protect and conserve our shared oceans. The purpose of the annual event is to teach people about the diversity of the world’s oceans as well as celebrate their huge positive impact on our lives.
Setouchi, Japan’s central inland sea region just west of Kyoto and Osaka, has a wealth of incredible natural occurrences, activities and sights to see, do and enjoy on its calm, clear waters. Check out our top seven recommendations for water-based activities in Setouchi below!
1. Brave a Rafting Adventure on the Yoshino River, Tokushima Prefecture
The Yoshino River is known for having some of the best conditions for white water rafting in Japan. Not only is the Yoshino River the second longest waterway in Japan’s fourth-largest central island of Shikoku, it is also the only one that flows through all four of the island’s prefectures.
Adventure-seekers who raft down the Yoshino River will find themselves surrounded by incredible forestry and the impressive views of the Ooboke-Koboke gorge. Experiencing rapid water flows and large dips, travellers can choose to take part in a full- or half-day course to enjoy the foaming waves. A half-day morning course begins at ¥6,300 / £42 per adult. Find out more at setouchitrip.com / odss-shikoku.jp
2. Camp Out on Tatebajima Island, Okayama Prefecture
If you are looking for a secluded spot while in the Seto Inland Sea region, staying on an uninhabited island for a night could be the perfect answer! Available on a one-night basis, groups of between four and 80 people are now able to rent the whole island of Tatebajima, also known as Kujira-jima.
Once on the island, just 30 minutes from the mainland, intrepid travellers can do as they please, whether it is hosting a full-scale knees-up, such as a beach party or a wedding or opting for a more laid back approach, paddle boarding around the island before heating up the barbecue for a beachside evening of grilled goodies under the stars.
There are several private beaches to discover on the island, all of which can be explored on foot in 30 minutes. For one night of seclusion away from the rest of the world, the fee is ¥21,368 / £144 per adult per night, which includes camping facilities and transport. Find out more at setouchitrip.com / kujira-jima.jp
3. Eyeball the Iconic ‘Floating Gate’ While Sea Kayaking, Hiroshima Prefecture
Travellers can take a sea kayak up to Itsukushima Shrine’s famous ‘floating’ torii shrine gate – the gate providing the perfect backdrop for a relaxing afternoon of paddling around the calm waters of the bay. Paddle Park instructors take visitors on a guided tour of the area, starting at Miyajima Island before making their way to
While exploring the islands in your miniature vessel, you will be able to appreciate the region’s spectacular coastal from a new perspective, as well as seeing the famous shrine gate up close from your unique vantage point on the water. A half-day course begins at ¥6,480 / £44 per adult. Find out more at setouchitrip.com / paddlepark.com
4. Head to the Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival, Hiroshima Prefecture
On 25th August 2018, hundreds of fireworks fans gather by the waterside of Hiroshima’s Miyajima Island to watch the annual summer firework display light up the night sky. Itsukushima Shrine’s ‘floating’ torii gate provides a fairytale backdrop for a special evening of fireworks, with around 200 of the festival’s 5,000 fireworks being launched from the water.
The event attracts the attention of 40,000 visitors each year, with an additional 200,000 people gathering on the nearby shores of Hatsukaichi and Hiroshima cities to watch the dazzking display illuminate the firmament from a distance. Find out more setouchitrip.com / visithiroshima.net
5. Marvel at the Naruto Natural Whirlpools, Tokushima Prefecture
Visit the world’s largest whirlpools off the shore of Shikoku’s Tokushima prefecture and soak up the unique views of the natural phenomenon on daredevil a sightseeing cruise. Naruto’s astounding natural whirlpools can reach up to 20 metres in diameter due to the large volumes of water moving between the Pacific Ocean and the narrow strait of the Seto Inland Sea during high and low tide.
Sightseeing boats take inquisitive visitors right up to the whirlpools, putting you in prime position for some unmissable photo opportunities! If cruising headfirst into the mouth of a hungry whirlpool isn’t appealing, you can also watch this natural phenomenon from the Ohnaruto Bridge while sponging up the panoramic views. Sightseeing cruises begin at ¥1,800 / £12 per adult. Find out more at setouchitrip.com / uzusio.com
6. Take Flight with Setouchi Seaplanes, Hiroshima Prefecture
Explore the Seto Inland Sea from a bird’s eye viewpoint with an unforgettable ride in Setouchi Seaplanes. During a 50-minute aerial adventure, you will witness an incredible range of sights from above, including Ikuchijima Island, Tatara Bridge, Noshima Island and the Onomichi Channel – catching a glimpse of the world’s longest suspension bridge. Flights also pass over the Geiyo Islands, known for once being the home to Japan’s largest band of pirates.
Before taking off in a Kodiak 100, you will be able to make yourself at home in the Onomichi port lounge, enjoying champagne and locally-made lemon cakes (lemons and citrus fruit are a specialty of the local area). Meanwhile, if you’d prefer to break away from the predetermined route of a scheduled flight you can charter a seaplane and customise your own sightseeing tour. A 50-minute Discovery Flight begins at ¥32,000 / £216 per adult. Find out more at setouchitrip.com / setouchi-seaplanes.com
7. Walk the Angel Road at Low Tide, Kagawa Prefecture
Appearing twice a day at low tide, Angel Road is a small strip of sand that connects the ‘mainland’ of Shodoshima Island to three smaller islands just off the shore. Picturesque Shodoshima Island is known for its quintessentially Japanese soy sauce production industry but also its Mediterranean-style olive tree plantations.
According to legend, couples who walk across Angel Road while holding hands will have their relationship blessed, which has encouraged loved-up travellers from around the world to come and leave their declarations of love around the island. Whether with or without a partner, you should make sure to hike up to the lookout point, known as the Hill of Promise, to admire the panoramic views of Angel Road. Find out more at setouchitrip.com
Setouchi Tourism Authority is a membership organisation that supports the development of business and tourism in the Setouchi region. This area west of Kyoto encompasses the Seto Inland Sea, one of the most prominent multi-island seas in the world, and includes the seven prefectures of Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa and Ehime.
Known for incredible modern art and sculptures, design destinations in the region include Naoshima - Japan’s Art Island - and Miyajima Island – with Itsukushima Shrine’s torii gate standing proudly in the sea. Home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites, Setouchi is also known for its quality produce, such as Kobe beef, Hiroshima oysters, udon noodles from Kagawa, and 275 sake breweries.
The region hosts myriad seasonal events, from wisteria and cherry blossom festivals to traditional cultural and food festivals and the 2019 Art Triennale. For more information on Setouchi, visit setouchitrip.com