Sea for yourself

Discover the beautiful Setouchi region, located on Japan’s inland sea.

Photography by Shoko Takayasu © 2019

30 September 2022


Located in western Japan, the Setouchi Region is the area around the Seto Inland Sea, which is the largest sea in Japan, surrounded by seven prefectures: Ehime, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Kagawa, Okayama, Tokushima, and Yamaguchi.

It is known around the world for its beautiful scenery with no waves and islands that look as if they are floating. The region has fostered a history and culture that has been influenced by the sea and, as a result, has great attractions that are appealing to any visitor.

Here are three examples of what you can experience in Setouchi to stay inspired and relaxed in a different kind of way.


Experience Oboke and Koboke Gorges

One of the must-do activities of Setouchi, Japan, is to experience the deep and unique Oboke and Koboke gorges, where dynamic geological formations, said to have taken 200 million years to form, are paired with the powerfully flowing emerald-green Yoshino River, which is a spectacular sight to behold.


The mysterious shapes of the huge, sculpted rocks towering over both banks of the river immerse you in the grandeur of nature.

The best way to enjoy Oboke Koboke is to take a tour of the Oboke Gorge Pleasure Cruise. During the tour, wild birds such as Aigamo ducks and kite birds sometimes approach the boat and if you are lucky, you may even see antelopes running along the opposite bank of the river.

The nature around the scenic pier showcases different scenery depending on the season.

From late March to the end of May, you can see Koinobori – a Japanese cultural custom of decorating carp-shaped streamers to wish boys good health and growth – that seem to swim in the sky.

Around mid-November to late November, the entire mountain turns vermilion and is breathtakingly photogenic. It is one of the best places in Tokushima Prefecture for autumn foliage.

Yamashiro-cho, Miyoshi City, where Oboke valley is located, is also a mysterious area with many Yokai – legendary Japanese monsters passed down through the generations and a Yokai museum.

Why not add this interesting experience to your future Japan travel itinerary?


    • Pre-booking is not required. Tickets are available at the front desk in Restaurant Okobekyo Mannaka.
    • Cruising timetable: 9 am til 3:30 pm weekdays and 9 am til 4:30 pm on the weekend. Cruises may be cancelled in the case of strong winds or waves.
    • Address: 1520 Nishiu, Yamashiro Cho, Miyoshi City, Tokushima Prefecture 779-5451.

The sightseeing train of The Thousand-Year Story of Shikoku

The Shikoku Mannaka Sennen Monogatari is a sightseeing train that traverses the beautiful scenery between Tadotsu station in Kagawa Prefecture and Oboke station in Tokushima Prefecture in 2.5 hours.

It is the perfect escape from the busy cities into the revitalising fields and mountains that have been kept in its original glory for over 1,000 years.

Each of the three cars has its own theme, inspired by the four seasons of Japan. During the trip, you can enjoy vibrant dishes made with local ingredients, local sake, snacks and crafts, all of which are prepared with the utmost care and attention by the local staff together with the marvellous scenery.


Garyu Sanso – Hidden villas on the serene lakeshore of Ehime

Enjoy a trip away from the noise of modern life in a serene, historic and beautiful old Japanese villa in the mountains. Travel back 200 years in time to observe historical buildings and landscapes and spend time detoxifying your mind with self-meditation.

Garyu Sanso is in Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture, known as Little Kyoto in the Edo period (1603–1868) during the days of Samurai until about 150 years ago. This mountain villa was built by making the most of the terrain on a cliff overlooking the clear river.

The name Garyu is said to have been derived from the resemblance to a reclining dragon.

The villa was first planned in 1898 when a wealthy merchant named Torajiro Kawachi, who had succeeded in wax trading during the Meiji period (1868-1912) when Japan opened its doors to world trade after the end of the closed samurai period, decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life in the best spot in Ozu.

It took over a period of ten years in conception and four years in construction to build by master craftsmen from Kyoto and Kobe, who were highly skilled in traditional architecture and techniques.

One of the main characteristics of the villa is the overall design, which resembles a boat on the Hijikawa River, and has a garden and tearoom which overlooks the river to allow visitors to enjoy the view, as well as traditional Japanese architectural beauty that is rarely seen in ordinary houses today.

Each season will showcase a different view. You can enjoy real Matcha green tea made by a tea master and Japanese sweets from April to July and September to October.

The villa is nominated for Japan’s Important Cultural Asset of national treasures and awarded one star in Michelin Green Guide Japan in 2011.


    • The date is subject to change without notice.
    • Please note overnight stays are not available.



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