Enchanted by the islands of Setouchi! Shiwaku & Kasaoka Islands Model Course
28 islands of different shapes and sizes can be found dotting the waters between Kagawa and Okayama Prefectures. Towards Kagawa Prefecture sits Honjima, a former base for the Shiwaku Navy, or Awashima, the island recently known for its art and also for being the home of Japan’s first school for maritime sailors. Towards the Okayama side also known as the “Kasaoka Islands”, you’ll find Kitagi Island, also known as “Stone Island”, or even Manabe Island, the island destination loved worldwide for its old-world towns and streets, just to name a few.
Here’s a sample itinerary for a smooth trip across the Setouchi islands. It starts with two days and one night on Awashima Island, former base for the Shiwaku Navy, then a brief stop on Honjima Island before making your away across the Great Seto Bridge towards the mainland to visit Kitagi Island, one of the “Kasaoka Islands”. From there you’ll make your final stop in Manabe Island.
Day 1: Awashima Island
Our first stop is Awaroha Shokudo for lunch. After grabbing a bite, head over for a tour of some art hits from the Setouchi Triennale, including “Missing Post Office”, and “Awashima Artist Village”. Next, swing by the Awashima Marine Memorial Hall for a chance to view some rare documents. If the trek to Buoy Buoy Garden seems a little far, there are rental bikes available at the Awashima Tourism Information Center by the port. You won’t believe how adorable the buoy shaped dolls are! When the sun begins to set that means its time to explore Nishihama Kaigan and make your way towards “Le Port Awashima”, your hotel for the night. For an extraordinary way to end the day, make sure to check for the mini firefly show.
Day 2: Awajima Island to Honjima Island
Let’s kick off the second day of your trip a little early to catch the sunrise at Jonoyama. Breathe in the crisp clear air and recharge before setting out towards Honjima Island. This spot is full of marine history which you can see especially at spots like the Kasashima Important Preservation District of Traditional Buildings, Yoshida Residence and the Former Shiwaku Administration Office. Afterwards, swing by Honjima Stand for a bite and a recharge while looking over the Seto Inland Sea. Finally, you’ll head to Shokakuin, a temple that’s known as the “Yamadera (Mountain Temple)”.
Day 3: Kitagi Island to Manabe Island
On your third day you’ll head to the Kasaoka Islands, an island that sits among the Shiwaku Islands on the Okayama side. Once at port, check out K’s LABO to view some of the history behind the stone museum. Then grab a rental bike and check out the different stone-based art pieces across the island, including a visit to the Kitagi Island Quarry and Ishikiri no Tani Observation Deck. See what a real stone quarry looks like up close. Once you’ve made your way from Kitagi Island to Manabe Island, it’s time for a throw back in time as you stroll the old-world, classic streets. While all the wooden buildings are especially photo-worthy, the Manabe Junior High School is one stop you won’t want to miss.
How to Get Around
To get across the Shiwaku Islands, you’ll want to take the 15 min. ferry from Suda Port in Mitoyo to get to Awashima Island, or the 35 min. ferry from Marugame in Marugame City to get to Honjima Island.
To get to Kitagi Island, part of the Kasaoka Islands on the Okayama Prefecture side, get on at the ferry at Kasaoka City. Just be careful as the destination may change depending on which boat you board. To get to Toyoura Port or Kanaburo Port on Kitagi Island, take the ferry from Fusegoe, and to get to Kusunoki Port or Kitagi Port (Oura Port) take the ferry from Sumiyoshi Port. If you board at Sumiyoshi Port you can also take this boat to Manabe Island.
Seto Inland Sea Boat Cruising FUJIWARA
This small cruiser is fully equipped with WiFi and room for up to 10 people. It also has plenty of tour plans depending on your trip date and desired course so that you can plan a perfect island hopping adventure. Plans start at 15,000yen.
SETOUCHI ISLAND CRUISE
This is your boat if you’re in the mood for high end luxury. You can pick a 2, 4, 6, or 8 hour cruise depending on your liking. There are other plans as well, including a “you name it” plan that’s free to customize. For up to 10 people riding for 2 hours, prices start at 88,000yen.
If you want to travel the islands with a bit more ease, we recommend chartering a boat or trying a water taxi. It’s worth looking into it depending on your trip plans!