BEAUTY OF JAPAN

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Setonaikai National Park -Chugoku Area-

2015.04.16

Setonaikai National Park consists of about 3,000 islets, small and large, and is famous for offering a sweeping view of huge clusters of islands floating in the calm inland sea. One such example of such beauty can be obtained in the view of the Bisan Archipelago as seen from Mt. Washu. Areas of white sandy beaches bordered by green pines, such as those found along the Shibukawa coast and in Keino-Matsubara, as well as terraced fields and other scenes of people living in a state of intimate connection with nature are signature attributes of this park.

<Where to see>
【Okayama Prefecture】
◆Hinase Islands
The Hinase Islands are a group of distinctive islands situated in the southeast corner of Okayama Prefecture. As its name suggests, Kakui Island is a habitat for wild deer. With over half of the island designated a National Wildlife Protection Area, a favorable natural environment is maintained.
Otabu Island once flourished as a port town used for stopovers by ships awaiting better sailing conditions and boasts of numerous hiking options, historic investigative sites, and other points of interest.
Situated in Bizen City on the mainland, Mt. Yudachiuke is also part of Setonaikai National Park and features an observatory overlooking the Seto Inland Sea.

◆Ushimado-Maeshima
Ushimado Town is located on a part of the Inland Sea called the Aegean Sea of Japan due to its temperate climes and scenic beauty. A yacht harbor, hotels, olive gardens, and other sites of interest dot the town to allow visitors a chance to fully unwind and enjoy themselves in a resort environment.
Shiomachi-Karakoto-dori, an 800-meter-long street still standing in a corner of the town, continues to look as it did in days of old when this port town had grown as a port of call for ships awaiting better wind and current conditions on their passages to and from various provinces to the west. On this street are located various entities and structures, including the storehouse of a long-established sake brewer, Torodo Temple, and the lodgings used by envoys on Korean missions to Japan.
Home to a breathtaking pine forest and other natural wonders, the entire island of Maeshima has been designated part of Setonaikai National Park. Visitors to this island can enjoy shellfish gathering and sea bathing on a white sandy beach.

◆Mt. Washu
Mt. Washu is a place that represents one of the finest examples of scenic beauty in Setonaikai National Park.
This peak was given its name because of the resemblance of the peninsula at this location to an eagle with its wings spread apart when seen from a point northeast of this hill.
Officially designated,as National Scenic Beauty, Shimotsui-Washuzan is one of several areas that were conferred such a designation at the time of the establishment of Setonaikai National Park. Notable for a landscape comprising weathered granite, this site has been widely acclaimed for its unparalleled view ever since the Edo period. In days of old, it flourished as a port of call for ships awaiting better wind conditions. Even today, remnants of the old port town can still be seen in the streets of Shimotsui.
The observatory at the summit of this peak offers a panoramic view of the Bisan-Seto area. Nature study meetings and other events are held periodically.
Located immediately below the summit, the Washuzan Visitor Center provides fascinating detailed information on the natural environment and history surrounding Mt. Washu through exhibits and video presentations.

◆Kasaoka Bay
Japanese horseshoe crabs known as living fossils live in Kasaoka. The local area includes the Yorishima district created through a land reclamation project (Saburojima), Aosabana, and Mt. Mitake in the southeastern part of Kasaoka City. The Kasaoka Islands, a group of approximately 30 islands facing Shikoku, have prospered since days of old as an important point on shipping routes in the Inland Sea. These days, visitors are drawn to Kasaoka Bay by the placid calm of the Seto Inland Sea to enjoy sea bathing, fishing, and other popular marine leisure and sporting pursuits.

【Hiroshima Prefecture】
◆Cape Tomonoura & Abuto
Situated in the approximate center of the Seto Inland Sea, Tomonoura is famous as one of the finest representative places of scenic beauty in Setonaikai National Park (and has also been officially designated as National Scenic Beauty). Having prospered in days of old as a port of call for ships awaiting better wind and current conditions, Tomonoura now encompasses such areas as Tomo Bay and Sensuijima Island. The Taichoro Guesthouse, which is located in the precincts of Fukuzenji Temple, commands a fine view of Sensuijima Island, the sight of which was famous for having been extolled once upon a time as "the finest place of scenic beauty in Japan" by Korean envoy I-pan-on.
Sensuijima Island was formed as a result of volcanic activity during the Mesozoic and Cretaceous periods. Its beauty is said to be so great as to be capable of holding mountain hermits spellbound. Visitors can gaze upon its majestic sea cliffs and shoreline caverns.
The Omisen Observatory in Takamine affords a panoramic view of Bentenjima Island and the streets of Tomo.

◆Geiyo Islands
Vantage points offering views of the Tajima seascape are located at various positions throughout the Geiyo Islands.
Mt. Fudekage in the city of Mihara is one such vantage point. The beauty of Tajima as seen from this location counts as one of the foremost vistas of the Seto Inland Sea.
Famous locations from which to obtain special views include Mt. Narutaki in Onomichi City, Mt. Takami on Mukaishima Island, and Mt. Kurotaki in Takehara City.
In the eastern end of the Geiyo Islands (through which the Shimanami Kaido highway passes), a number of islands--including Innoshima, Ikuchijima, Osakikamijima, and Shimojima--have been designated as belonging to the National ParkPark.
Also known as an island that had been erased from maps, Okunoshima Island features the remains of a chemical weapons plant that was in operation during the war. Today, the entire island is a National Park Resort Village where visitors can encounter historical heritage sites or enjoy sea bathing, hiking, or other activities that involve coming into contact with nature.
Various locations on Innoshima Island have been designated as belonging to the National Park, including Mt. Shirataki, said to have been a base used by the Murakami navy; Mt. Tengu, located in the center of the island; and Innoshima Park and Tengu-no-Hana, found in the southern part of Innoshima. While only Mt. Kannon in the southwestern part of Ikuchijima Island has been designated a part of the National Park, this is an island with many prominent temples, including Kojoji Temple and Kosanji Temple.
Located in the western end of the Geiyo Islands and facing Itsukinade are a number of areas that have been designated as belonging to the National Park. These areas consist of Mt. Kan'nomine in the southeastern section of Osakikamijima Island, the eastern section of Osakishimojima Island, and Mt. Minedera in its entirety.
Also situated on Osakishimojima is the community of Mitarai, which flourished in more recent times as a port town used by ships awaiting better wind conditions.

◆Mt. Noro, Mt. Yasumi, Kurahashijima Island
Rising 839 meters above sea level and situated in Kure City, Mt. Noro is the name given to a plateau extending two kilometers from east to west linking Mt. Zendana to Mt. Kohoji.
The second-highest peak in Setonaikai National Park after Mt. Rokko in Kobe, Mt. Noro commands a spectacular view and can be accessed using a motorway named the Sazanami Skyline. Visitors can engage in mountaineering, camping, or other outdoor pursuits; explore the natural environment in all four seasons; or savor various historical points of interest year-round, including Noro Jinja Shrine and Kohoji Temple.
Mt. Yasumi is a peak rising 497 meters above sea level and comprises the peninsula at the southwest end of the urban area of Kure City. It offers excellent vantage points and can be accessed by a skyline roadway.
Kurahashijima Island is an island situated in Hiroshima Bay and is separated from the mainland by the Ondo-no-Seto Strait. The parts of the island designated as belonging to the Setonaikai National Park consist of Kamegakubi in the eastern part of the island and Karoto and Katsurahama in the southern part of the island.

◆Miyajima & Mt. Goruraku
All of Miyajima, a rectangular island measuring 30 kilometers around its perimeter, has been designated a part of the Setonaikai National Park. It is formally known as Itsukushima, a name that can mean "an island in the service of the gods".
Known since days of old as a sacred site, Miyajima is one of the three most famous views in Japan and was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site in November 1996. The Misen Primeval Forest constitutes a mixed forest of conifers (hemlock fir and fir trees) and evergreen broad-leaved trees (such as white oak trees) growing on the upper half of Mt. Misen. Having retained its primeval essence to this day, this representative warm-temperate forest has been designated a natural monument of Japan.
Mt. Gokurakuji is a peak situated in the north end of Hatsukaichi City. Located on the mountain is Gokurakuji Temple, which is affiliated with the Shingon sect of Buddhism. From the precincts of this temple, one can admire a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea. A natural forest of fir trees lies within the temple grounds since they were fortunately spared from being felled even during the war.

【Yamaguchi Prefecture】
◆Boyo
Mt. Ouza on the eastern tip of the Kumage Peninsula as well as the islands of Sagoshima, Umashima, and Yashirojima (Suo-Oshima Island), which face the Suonada Sea, have been designated as belonging to Setonaikai National Park.
Yashirojima (Suo-Oshima Island) is the third largest island in the Seto Inland Sea after Awajishima Island and Shodoshima Island.
Other vantage points overlooking the Seto Inland Sea are located on Mt. Monju, Mt. Kano, Mt. Dake-zan, and Mt. Shiraki.
The temperate climate of this area has contributed to the introduction of resort-style experiences that allow visitors to visit historic sites, engage in sea bathing, and explore the natural environment.

◆Shunan
The Murozumi-Nijigahama Coast has been selected one of the 100 best beach sites and one of the 100 best seashores of white sand and green pines in Japan. From the Shimada River in Hikari City, the Nijigahama Coast stretches westwards for 2.1 kilometers while the Murozumi Coast extends eastwards for 5.7 kilometers. The coast in both directions is highly popular among sea bathers.
Situated inland from this coast, Mt. Senbo has also been designated a part of the Setonaikai National Park.
Featuring a complex, submerged coastline, Kasadojima is an island where visitors can engage in fishing, camping, and other tourist activities.
In the Tokuyama Bay area, the peninsula that juts out to mark the eastern edge of the bay and the islands in the surrounding sea (including Kurokamijima and Otsushima) have been designated as belonging to the Setonaikai National Park. Located on the peninsula are Mt. Taika, Cape Ryugu, and other notable sites.

◆Shimonoseki
Areas that are designated as belonging to the Setonaikai National Park dot the region near the Kanmon Straits.
An inland volcano overlooking the Kanmon Straits and the Kanju and Manju Forests positioned apart within the Kanmon Straits have been designated as belonging to the Setonaikai National Park. The latter two are primeval forests standing in isolation on islets. Castanopsis sieboldii trees and other species of vegetation associated with warm climates grow densely in these forests, which are protected as the enclave precincts of Iminomiya Jinja Shrine. Legendary stories concerning an eastern expedition undertaken by Empress Jingu can be linked to this area.
A volcano marks the westernmost point of Setonaikai National Park. A battery had been installed here to take advantage of the excellent views afforded by this location in wartime. Park improvement projects have been undertaken and a toll-charging parkway has been constructed.

Reference:
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Setonaikai area across Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi