Setouchi inland sea
Setouchi sea from Washu zan
"Pumpkin" by Yayoi Kusama on Naoshima island
Shodoshima's "Angel Road"
Credit: 663highland wikimedia commons (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)
Rabbits on Okunoshima
Teshima Art Museum
Setouchi is the name given to a large area of the Seto Inland Sea, emcompassing the Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima to Yamaguchi districts south of Honshu, as well as Tokushima and Ehime to Shikoku.
According to the coast guard, 727 islands dot the blue waters of Setouchi, though some are so small that they can be circled in minutes. The appeal of this region of Japan is obvious: the beauty of the sea, a mild climate, and its fascinating islands with so much to offer visitors.
To see in Setouchi
- Shimanami Kaido
The Shimanami Kaido is a 60-kilometer bike path that spans several islands, the coast and a long bridge that offers wonderful views from Onomichi to Imabari.
Very easily accessible from the port of Uno in 20 minutes by ferry, we advise you to spend a night on Naoshima to best appreciate this amazing island, entirely dedicated to art. From the yurts on the beach to the luxurious artistic hotel Benesse House, complete with real works of art on the walls, there is accommodation to suit all budgets... and tastes! Sculptures are on display everywhere on the island, including those by the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusuma; incredible houses are transformed by various artists and designers, and there are several impressive museums. If you enjoy modern art, Naoshima isn't to be missed.
Accessible from Takamatsu Port in 35 minutes by boat, Teshima was the second island to be dedicated to art, after Naoshima. There are always exhibitions and projects going on. The fabulous Teshima Art Museum by architect Ryue Nishizawa offers an experience like no other. The artworks of Christian Boltanski or Mike & Doug Starn are permanently exhibited here. In the summer, don't miss the 9 hectares of rice terraces of Karato Tanada, it's a natural marvel. To enjoy all this, you have the choice between taking a bus or bike rental.
This island, the largest of the inland sea, is connected by the bridge between Honshu and Shikoku, 2 hours from Osaka or 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokushima. Passing through the Naruto Strait, you can admire the famous whirlpools that form in the tumultuous waters there. The Uzushio Cruise boats offers one hour rides if you want to see them up close.
Accessible in 1 hour from Okayama or Takamatsu, this island is known for its soy sauce production and olive cultivation. It's large and rather mountainous, which is why the short trip to the breathtaking Kankakei gorges on the island must be made by cable car. Back on the island's coast, at low tide the "Angel Road" appears, a long strip of sand that temporarily connects the island to another small island. It's said that couples who cross the sandbar hand in hand will find happiness together...
Accessible in 20 minutes from Hiroshima, this tiny island is very special since it is home to more than 700 free-roaming rabbits! The first are believed to have escaped from a primary school in the 1970s, and you can imagine the rest when these charming little animals have no natural predators. You can spend a night at a campsite here, surrounded by rabbits. It's a unique draw for the island, in addition to having housed a chemical weapons factory in the years 1930-40, which fell into ruin and today is a museum.
Reached in 35 minutes by boat from Kagawa, Honjima is located in the center of the Shiwaku Islands. It is located right next to and easily visible from the big Seto Ohashi bridge. Its prosperity dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868) thanks to the maritime transport that passed through it, making it a center of power in the island group.Severl historical sites such as its old port and many temples remain preserved today.
Events in Setouchi
The famous contemporary art festival of Setouchi, the Setouchi Triennale, takes place every 3 years on a dozen islands at a time. The next festival will take place in 2019. The project is being prepared with the collaboration of local communities that are actively involved in the success of this festival, which helps to revitalize isolated and aging populations.
Thanks to the art and all the visitors who have flocked to the area since the first festival in 2010, the rebirth of these islands has been extraordinary; it's an opportunity to share the culture and the traditional customs buried in this part of Japan, as well as highlight the beauty of local nature.