Amazing View of the Seto Inland Sea
I remember seeing the name “Seto Inland Sea” written in Chinese characters somewhere before I came to Japan. The name just vaguely reminded me of some beautiful marine scenery at the time.
I later learned how magnificently scenic the area actually is, and had ever since wanted to visit the area to feel and experience the magnificence myself. This is why I wished to visit Setonaikai (Seto Inland Sea) National Park of Japan’s Chugoku region, the first national park in Japan.
Great Seto Bridge : One of the World’s Largest Bridges
Length of the Bridge : Highway 37.3km，Railway 32.4km, Strait Part 9.4km
The first destination in my trip to the area was the Great Seto Bridge, the spectacular chain of world class bridges.
“Great Seto Bridge” collectively refers to a series of 6 bridges, which span across the Seto Inland Sea and connects Honshu (Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture) and Shikoku (Sakaide City, Kagawa Prefecture). The 6 bridges all have a double deck structure, with 4-lane Seto Chuo Expressway running on the upper decks and the railway track of JR Honshi-Bisan Line running on the lower decks. As the bridge serves two purposes, it is often referred to as “roadway and railroad combined bridge.”
Ever since a member of Kagawa Prefectural Assembly advocated the construction of a bridge across the Seto Inland Sea as early as in 1889, an enormous number of people have been involved in the project; the start of the construction in 1978 and the experimental train operation in 1988, to name just a few milestones in the project, which finally led to the official opening of the bridge in 1988.
In 2013, Great Seto Bridge celebrated its 25th anniversary of the bridge opening. During those 25 years, the bridge has connected people on the islands and the both sides of the sea not only physically but also emotionally.
Mount Washuzan, the Scenic Spot Overlooking Seto Great Bridge
I walked along the coast from Kojima Station in Okayama Prefecture and headed to the spot where I would be able to enjoy the magnificent view of Seto Great Bridge. The spot is a mountain called Washuzan, which is located on the coastal area in Kurashiki City, Okayama.
The view from the top observatory is exquisite and well explains how natural it was for the mountain to play a determining role when an area around the inland sea was designated as a national park. The mountain also has an establishment with a restaurant and banquet/conference rooms (Washuzan Rest House) as well as an observation deck where you can enjoy the breeze from the inland sea.
I visited a glass-walled cafe inside the establishment and savored black tea and the Seto local specialty lemon cake while enjoying the magnificent view put on a show in front of my eyes. It was truly relaxing and soothing.
I was fully content with the exquisite view and wanted no distraction. I felt like I could stay there forever.
Sometimes when I was outside on the deck, I could barely stand against the strong wind. But it never annoyed me. I actually enjoyed it because even the strong wind seemed like an essential part of my precious experience there.
The islands scattered over the calm inland sea create archipelagic beauty which changes its expression by viewing locations and angles, and can be enjoyed either from the mountain, the coastal area or other locations. Besides the magnificent view, the mountain is also spotted with many other fun things to do and see and can provide a great opportunity for you to fully enjoy the great nature.
There is also Shimoden Hotel at the foot of Mount Washuzan. It would be a great idea to stay here overnight, relax yourself and fully and slowly enjoy the splendid sceneries of the area with the sunrise and sunset in the background.
Seto, the Place Loved by All
The marine landscape and the marine animals of the Seto Inland Sea area are slightly different from other parts of Japan due to its unique climate, which makes this area a special destination for many tourists from both within and outside Japan.
Those attracted to the specific atmosphere of the area include especially many artists, who organize a large art event titled Setouchi Triennale once every three years here over the beautiful archipelago. They are holding the event for the purpose of conveying the unique traditional culture and the attractive natural sceneries of the Seto area to as many people as possible.
Why not visit the Seto area at least once in your lifetime and enjoy the magnificent beauty of the sceneries for yourself?