A thrilling ride along the racing currents of Kurushima Straits. Discover the area’s history and sites, including the enormous shipbuilding works!

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The Shimanami Kaido road, which connects Onomichi City in Honshu to Imabari city on Shikoku island, crosses over several islands in the Seto Inland Sea, Oshima island being the last one at the southern end of the road. The Kurushima Strait exists between Oshima island and Shikoku, and is well-known for having one of the three fastest currents in Japan. Rapid swells and a complex terrain create powerful whirlpools that swirl across the Strait. We experienced this thrilling natural adventure on a Kurushima Strait Boat!

To the ticket booth

We first visited a roadside rest stop, Michi no Eki Yoshiumi Iki-Iki Kan, before going ahead to the boat. Here, we purchased our boat tickets and moved on to the Shimoda Water Port where the boat would depart. It takes 3~5 minutes by foot to get to the port from the Yoshiumi Iki-Iki Kan. Please remember to buy tickets ahead of time. The crew will check your ticket while embarking, and then you’re ready to set sail!

The roadside rest stop, Michi no Eki Yoshiumi Iki-Iki Kan, is a convenient site for meals or snacks, offering also local specialties and souvenirs.
The roadside rest stop, Michi no Eki Yoshiumi Iki-Iki Kan, is a convenient site for meals or snacks, offering also local specialties and souvenirs.
A crew member checks tickets when embarking.
A crew member checks tickets when embarking.
A fun and friendly tour guide. There are guides for foreign languages, too. (requires advanced booking)
A fun and friendly tour guide. There are guides for foreign languages, too. (requires advanced booking)

Looking up at the Great Kurushima Strait Bridge

Soon after departure, the boat sailed just below the Great Kurushima Strait Bridge. Looking up at the bridge from underneath, and at such a unique angle, was certainly a privilege for the boat tour passengers. This majestic bridge is not only the largest bridge in Shimanami Kaido but the world’s first triple suspension bridge. We were stunned by the size of the "anchorage" that secures the cables of the bridge. This vast concrete block is about 90 meters high, which its 60-meter part exposed above the water.

The spectacular view of the Great Kurushima Strait Bridge seen from the boat
The spectacular view of the Great Kurushima Strait Bridge seen from the boat
Anchorage, a giant concrete base with a volume equivalent to six hundreds 25-meter swimming pools
Anchorage, a giant concrete base with a volume equivalent to six hundreds 25-meter swimming pools

The most powerful current occurs at full moon or new moon day

There are a few spots where we could see the whirlpools closely. The boat turned off the engine at these spots so passengers could feel their intensity. Another great site is the "sea spouts” appearing as if seawater is rising out from underneath due to the complex sea bottom terrain.

The most powerful tidal current is seen during the full moon or on new moon day. Despite the natural phenomenon, this is pretty predictable as the tide is so in sync with the moon calendar.

The impressive flow of the whirlpool; the pools swirl up and disappear, one after another.
The current can be too strong to get closer.
The impressive flow of the whirlpool; the pools swirl up and disappear, one after another.
The current can be too strong to get closer.
The “sea spouts” are as powerful as the whirlpools.
The “sea spouts” are as powerful as the whirlpools.

The islands associates with the Murakami Pirates.

This area has a significant history as the headquarters of the Murakami Pirates. These most powerful Japanese pirates prospered during the Muromachi and Sengoku period. The headquarters’ island, Kurushima, is actually a tiny island with a circumference of only 850m. A torii gate near the port and facing out to sea allows for those on the boat to offer prayers to the Kurushima Yachihoko Shrine. The Pirates’ fortress was built around the neighboring islands too. The smooth trail, Musha-Bashiri, meaning warrior track, still remains on the uninhabited island of Mushijima, revealing how they prepared for combat there.

Home of Murakami Pirates, Kurushima. Ruins still remain, including the stone walls
Home of Murakami Pirates, Kurushima. Ruins still remain, including the stone walls
Kurushima Yachihoko Shrine viewed from sea level. Established to protect the Kurushima Castle.
Kurushima Yachihoko Shrine viewed from sea level. Established to protect the Kurushima Castle.
Mushijima with the Musha-Bashiri remains
Mushijima with the Musha-Bashiri remains

Shipyard

More things to see! Shipbuilding is a vital industry in Imabari City. This area is a crucial point of maritime transportation, and 700~800 ships run through here every day. We could see from our boat the many shipbuilding factories and docks lined up along the coast. They looked like giant buildings rising out from the sea. We were overwhelmed by their enormous size as we approached the construction and ship reparation site.

Shipyard. The lines of cranes are impressive
Shipyard. The lines of cranes are impressive
We could look up and see closely the ships under construction
We could look up and see closely the ships under construction

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