Translated by Ken
7 Stunning Spots Around The Seto Inland Sea - Ocean, Sunsets, And Nature
Written by Mizzochi
The Shonai Peninsula boasts amazing views of the Seto Inland Sea. With sparkling waters, mountains, beaches, and islands, the area is the ideal destination for a trip. This article introduces nature-filled locations like Mt. Shiude, along with recommended cafes and lodging information.
Shonai Peninsula and Mt. Shiude - Great Sunset Spots on the Seto Inland Sea
Travel to western Kagawa Prefecture and you will find Japan's best sunset view at Chichibugahama Beach. Neighboring it is the Shonai Peninsula. From Mt. Shiude to the Seto Inland Sea to the abundant nature encompassing it, this area is home to spectacular scenery.
The frequent sunny days in the Seto Inland Sea resemble the Mediterranean climate. The Shonai Peninsula, in particular, has beautiful beaches that are little known to the public. Come here to relax and just listen to the sound of the waves.
This article will introduce things to do around the Shonai Peninsula and how to get to each spot.
7 Things to Do Near the Serene Mt. Shiude
The Shonai Peninsula is the setting for the classic Japanese folklore "Urashima Taro." The tale is about a kindhearted young man who saves a turtle, becomes invited to live in an underwater palace, and eventually returns back to land.
As you listen to the gentle waves and bathe in the sunlight shining over the peninsula, you may feel as if you are being transported into a fantasy world where time runs slower. Thanks to the locals, the peninsula's nature is well-preserved, with many beaches remaining as they were originally.
We will first recommend seven places to visit, starting from Mt. Shiude and onto cafes, lodging, and spiritual spots.
1. Mt. Shiude - Head to the Cafe Overlooking the Seto Inland Sea
Picture courtesy of Mitoyo City
The Setouchi Islands was ranked 7th in the New York Times article "52 Places to Go in 2019." According to the article, Mt. Shiude is a highlight of the Seto Inland Sea.
From Mt. Shiude you can get a full view of the Setouchi Islands. The sea and the mountain's flowers—cherry blossoms from March to April and hydrangeas from June to July—make for a marvelous composition.
The Mt. Shiude Archaeological Museum near the summit has a cafe that overlooks the sea. With a drink in hand, enjoy the glistening waters of the Seto Inland Sea.
The Mt. Shiude Archaeological Museum displays stoneware used by inhabitants from two millennia ago. At this mountain, you can appreciate both the scenery and history.
2. Maruyama Island - A Mystical Island That Can Only Be Reached at Low Tide
Picture courtesy of Akiyoshi Kuramoto
Surrounded by clear blue waters, Maruyama Island is an uninhabited island accessible only during low tide. Every once in a while, you will find locals fishing and gathering seashells here.
The island's Urashima Shrine was named after the Japanese legend of Urashima Taro and is maintained by the local community. If you come to pray at this longstanding shrine, you may feel cleansed and energized by the sea.
3. Flower Park Urashima - A Flower Garden, Sea, and Mountains
Picture courtesy of Mitoyo City
The Flower Park Urashima is a flower garden managed by the Shonai Peninsula. Pot marigolds color the fields from late March to early April. The marguerite daisy blossoms from mid-April to late May, poppies and godetias in May, and cosmos are in season from mid-September to mid-October.
Picture courtesy of Mitoyo City
With the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains in the background, the flower garden is a marvelous sight. You can also enjoy caravanning, although it requires a reservation over the phone in Japanese.
4. Classico Setouchi Coffee - Savor a Cup of Coffee and Listen to the Waves
Operating next to the Urashima Flower Park is the cafe Classico Setouchi Coffee. The owner, who is from Takamatsu, opened this cafe in 2018 upon moving to the peninsula. We recommend trying coffee from the owner's handpicked selection and bread delivered fresh from a popular local bakery.
Take your order to the terrace seats to revel in the sights and sounds of the sprawling sea as you enjoy your meal.
During the winter season, gratin and other warm dishes are served. A 20-minute-drive away from Chichibugahama Beach, it is a great place to wait for the sunset.
Classico implements a self-serve system where customers order at one end of the counter and pick up their food from the other. The menu is written in both Japanese and English.
The cafe is busiest during the weekends and holidays from late March to August, so we recommend coming on a weekday for a quieter experience.
5. Sun Cafe - Try Their Signature Pizzas and Pastas
Drive ten minutes from Chichibugahama Beach to arrive at the tropical inspired Sun Cafe.
The owner of this cafe fell in love with the people, food, and nature that the Shonai Peninsula has to offer. The cafe makes its pizzas and pastas from ingredients from local farmers and fishers.
The recommended item on the menu is the Nio Limone (1,380 yen with tax). This pizza uses lemons grown locally and pork raised with Kagawa olives. They also serve oyster dishes, which are a speciality of the region, in the winter.
Near the Sun Cafe is Free Cloud, an outdoor area where you can enjoy sea kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding.
6. Kanran - Spend the Night Surrounded by Olive Fields
Picture courtesy of Draworth
For lodging, we recommend the Kanran Hygge dig i Setouchi. Through its large glass wall, you can admire the nighttime view of the Seto Inland Sea.
Picture courtesy of Draworth
With 700 healthy olive trees planted around the Kanran, their fragrance will further enrich your stay at the inn.
Kanran offers meals made by a traveling chef who uses fresh local ingredients. Eggplants and lemons are famously produced around the Shonai Peninsula. If you are interested in tasting the local gastronomy, we advise you to ask the inn upon making a reservation.
In addition to Kanran, the peninsula's other popular places to stay include the log cabin Bay Wind and the guesthouse Hiuchi. For details on these lodgings, check out our article on the MATCHA site.
7. Myokengu Shrine - Enter the Mystical Cave of Good Fortune
Be sure to see the Cave of Good Fortune when you visit. In the boulder to the right of the hall pictured above has space wide enough for one person to fit. Legend says that walking through it will bring good luck.
Since the cave is quite narrow, leave your bags at the entrance and be prepared for your clothing to get dirty.
In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, praying at underground shrines symbolized a newborn infant coming out of the mother's womb and is seen as a rebirth ritual. There are a number of shrines around the country that have similar underground prayer spots.
There are few places aside from the Cave of Good Fortune that will fill you with a sense of danger. Devoid of any sunlight, you are forced to confront your fears, but the experience might just leave you feeling refreshed.
However, avoid heading inside the cave during bad weather because it can be dangerous.
Turn at the sign that reads Fureai Plaza Nio (pictured above) to find parking. Then hike up the mountain for half an hour to reach the temple hall.
|Address||1107 Bo Nio, Mitoyo, Kagawa|
|Accepted Credit Cards||Not Available|
|Nearest station||JR Takuma Station|
|Access||A 20-minute drive from Takuma Station.|
Access to the Shonai Peninsula
To get around the Shonai Peninsula, we recommend renting a car or taking the bus.
When Renting a Car
Cars will be your best option when getting around the peninsula. You will find numerous rental car services at Takamatsu Airport and around the city of Takamatsu. One example is Heisei Car Rentals, where you can make a reservation in languages besides Japanese.
Although most services around the peninsula will likely only understand Japanese, you can make a reservation at the Open Air Rental Car and Bike (Japanese) ahead of time and pick up your vehicle at JR Takuma Station.
Mt. Shiude may restrict traffic during the cherry blossom season. For more information, visit the Mitoyo Tourism website (Japanese).
When Using Public Transportation
For public transportation, take the local buses from JR Takuma Station. Use either the Takuma Line (Japanese) (14 rides per day from Monday to Saturday) or the Shonai Line (Japanese) (15 total eastbound and westbound rides per day from Monday to Saturday).
For instance, if you are visiting Mt. Shiude between Monday and Saturday, first take the Takuma Bus Line from Takuma Station at 8:48 and get off at Ohama bus stop at 9:16. Take the eastbound Shonai Bus Line from Ohama at 10:06 to arrive at the foot of Mt. Shiude by 10:36.
Bicycles Are Also Recommended
The Shonai Peninsula is a popular cycling course. At the aforementioned Open Air Rental Car and Bike (Japanese), you can rent electric bicycles. This is a great way to get around for those into cycling.
Feel Refreshed After Visiting This Place of New Beginnings
In the legend of Urashima Taro, the protagonist returns from the underwater palace to find the world several centuries ahead in the future. When he opens the box previously gifted to him, he himself rapidly ages.
What do you think is the moral of the story? People have offered countless interpretations over the years. One theory posits that the protagonist started a new life as an immortal swan and reunited with the underwater princess.
Personally, the writer of the article not only felt refreshed but also as if new beginning unfolded after experiencing the beautiful nature that surrounds and fills the Shonai Peninsula. If you are feeling stagnant in life, we highly recommend taking some time off to reset at the Shonai Peninsula.
In cooperation with Classico Setouchi Coffee, Sun Cafe, Draworth