Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Setouchi City and the Amazing Scenery of the Seto Inland Sea

If you enjoy strolling along the beach as the sun slowly disappears from the horizon, be sure to stop by Setouchi City (瀬戸内市) in Okayama Prefecture. The sunset you will be seeing was chosen to be one of the top 100 sunsets in Japan! If you decide to book a “sunset kayaking course”, you can even paddle your way in between the small islands scattered along the Seto Inland Sea to search for your perfect sunset viewing spot (=゚ω゚)ノ.

For those who find the samurais and the swords they use fascinating, you will also have great reason to visit Setouchi City. If you plan your visit in advance, you will be able to see the swordsmiths making a real sword in front of you!

Below is a list of spots that you might find interesting to pay a visit to the next time you are in the Okayama Prefecture:

Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum (備前長船刀剣博物館)

If samurai swords excite you, you must visit the Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum!

The Osafune Town in Setouchi City prospered as a production center for Japanese swords since the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333). Around half of the Japanese swords that were designated to be either a national treasure or important cultural property were made by swordsmiths in the Bizen area (備前地方), where Osafune Town is located.

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

In the museum, the samurais might have used the swords on display. Furthermore, you might also be able to see part of the production process in the museum’s workshop and sword forge (*’▽’).

Sword Workshop and Sword Forge at Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation
  • Sword polishers, blade edge, sheath, hilt, and handguard specialists are stationed at the museum and are working at the workshop daily
  • On the second Sunday of each month, it is your chance to see the blade forging process in the museum’s sword forge. You should be able to see the swordsmith hammering the 1,200 degrees steel. The sparks shooting into the air every time the hammer lands on the heated steel is just the most fascinating thing to see!
    • The forging session was held at 11 am and 2 pm. Each session is 60 minutes long

If you can’t plan your visit for the second Sunday of the month, that is okay. You will still be able to see how a sword is forged by watching the short videos playing in the museum (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Tip: You can forge a small knife in the museum. For more information, please refer to the official website HERE and translate it to English by Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

Important: Please note, due to COVID-19, a reservation is required to visit the museum. You can reserve online HERE.

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily on all days except Monday
    • The admission closes at 4:30 pm
    • If Monday is a public holiday, the museum will close on the next business day instead
    • The museum will close from the 28th of December to the 4th of January
  • The admission fee is
    • 500 yen for adults
    • 300 yen for high school and university students
    • If you are 65 years old and above, you will get a discount. So please remember to bring your ID to prove your age
    • Free otherwise
  • It is around a 20-minute walk from JR Kagato Station (香登駅)
  • You can also take the Setouchi City Bus (瀬戸内市営バス) from JR Saidaiji Station (西大寺駅) on weekdays
    • Please refer to page 14 of the PDF HERE for the service’s timetable

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Setouchi City.

Setouchi Fruit Garden (瀬戸内フルーツガーデン)

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

After exploring the sword museum, how about having a relaxing afternoon at Setouchi Fruit Garden? Although there are only strawberries and blueberries, the season starts from December all the way to August!

There are a total of 5 different kinds of strawberries and 12 different kinds of blueberries planted in the garden. It is your chance to find out which kind of strawberries (or blueberries) you like the most.

So next time when you are shopping for strawberries in a supermarket in Japan, you know exactly which one you want to buy (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Fruit Picking Season and Cost

  • Strawberry picking season usually starts from early December and ends in late May
  • Blueberry picking season is between June and late August
  • The fruit picking at Setouchi Fruit Garden is operated as all you can eat style. Within an hour, you can eat as many berries as you wish
  • For one hour’s fruit picking, the cost is
    • 1,900 yen for adults
    • 1,300 yen for elementary school students
    • 800 yen for younger children above 3 years old
    • If your child is younger than 3 years old, it will be free for him/her

Setouchi Fruit Garden’s Cafe – Sun Cafe (さんカフェ)

There is also a café serving delicious desserts and light meals for anyone who feels a bit hungry or wants to enjoy a nice afternoon tea (^_-)-☆.

For those who want to get some local specialties and/or fresh fruits and vegetables, make sure you drop by their Sun March (さんマルシェ)!

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Setouchi Fruit Garden’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The garden is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily
    • Note that if most of the fruits that can be picked on the day are gone, the day’s fruit picking will end before 5 pm
  • It is a 25-minute walk from JR Osafune Station (長船駅) or a 15-minute walk from Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Setouchi City.

Bizen Fukuoka (備前福岡)

On the way to Myōkōji Temple (refer to the next attraction below) from JR Osafune Station (長船駅), you will first pass through a field of cropland. And at the end of it, there are a series of traditional houses. This area is called Bizen Fukuoka.

The area was the castle town of Fukuoka Castle (福岡城). As one of the main spots for the samurais to obtain their swords, the region used to be prosperous during the Sengoku period (1467 – 1615).

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Although only remnants of its past prosperity remain nowadays, it is a good spot for some photography. And if you come on the weekends between 10 am and 3 pm, you are welcome to explore the biggest residence – Nakazaki Residence Museum (仲崎邸) for 100 yen!

Fun fact: With the great contribution to the victory of the Battle of Sekigahara (関ヶ原の戦い), Kuroda Nagamasa (黒田長政) was rewarded a vast amount of land in Kyūsū by Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), used part of the name of his hometown and named the new clan as “Fukuoka” (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Bizen Fukuoka’s Market (備前福岡の市)

If you enjoy strolling through local markets, then come to Bizen Fukuoka on the 4th Sunday from 8 to 11 am.

For those who aren’t early birds, April and November are great months to come for the market. Because of the great scenery of cherry blossoms or autumn foliage, in these two months, the market extends its operating hours to 2 pm for you to sleep in (´▽`*).

In the market, not only will you find the normal fresh produces, there are also “Bizen ware” (備前焼) and locally made knives!

Myōkōji Temple (妙興寺)

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Myōkōji Temple was built in 1403. Since then, the temple has been maintained by quite a few famous samurai families. That is why you will find a few graves that belong to them.

Putting those that have passed away aside, the best thing about this temple is that it isn’t well-known to tourists. Thus, in autumn, when the 28 meters tall, 300 years old ginkgo tree is dyed with beautiful golden color, there won’t be many strangers in the background when you are taking selfies with it!

How to Get to Myōkōji Temple

It is just a 15-minute walk from JR Osafune Station (長船駅).

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Setouchi City.

Yokeiji Temple (餘慶寺)

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Yokeiji Temple is the second temple in the Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. The temple was built in 749 and has expanded since then. However, the temple’s precinct was much bigger in the Edo period (1603 – 1867) with the lord of Okayama’s backing.

Although the temple isn’t as prosperous now as before, it is still one of the biggest temples in Okayama Prefecture. It will surely take a while to explore this temple rife with national and prefectural treasures fully!

The temple is also full of various flowers, including plum and cherry blossom, kerria, rhododendron, hydrangea, water lily, lotus, bush clover, and maple trees.

Best Time to Visit Yokeiji Temple

  • Plum blossom: late January to early February
  • Cherry blossom: end of Mar to early April
  • Hydrangea: late May to mid-June
  • Water lily: mid-May to early June
  • Lotus: late June to early July

Apart from the flowers, some precious statues and paintings are normally kept away from the public. If you are interested in these historical treasures, visit Yokeiji Temple in mid-October for its temple’s treasure exhibition (=゚ω゚)ノ.

How to Get to Yokeiji Temple

From JR Ōdomi Station (大富駅), it is a 20-minute walk.

Note that the temple is located 60 meters above the ground; expect some light hiking.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Setouchi City.

Ushimado Olive Garden (牛窓オリーブ園)

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

We all know the beauty of the Aegean Sea is breathtaking. The part of the Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海) in Ushimado area is said to be Japan’s Aegean Sea. And if you are wondering where you can get the best view of the Seto Inland Sea from the Ushimado area, we recommend the Ushimado Olive Garden (=゚ω゚)ノ.

To find out the reason, refer to our article on Ushimado Olive Garden!

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Setouchi City.

Kuroshima Venus Road (黒島ヴィーナスロード)

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

If you enjoy walking along a beach, don’t miss out on the road that connects the Kuroshima Island (黒島) with the Nakanoko Island (中ノ小島) and the Hashinokojima Island (端ノ小島).

When the tide is low, a romantic sandy road will appear that connects the three islands located in the Ushimadoseto Strait (牛窓瀬戸). And if you ask what is romantic about this road, it is because of the heart-shaped stones lying along it!

For more information, please refer to our article about Kuroshima Venus Road!

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Setouchi City.

Sunrise at Mushiake

Setouchi City not only has one of the best sunsets in Japan, but the sunrise from Mushiake Bay is also so stunning that it was chosen to be one of the Top 100 Sunrise Scenery in the country (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The sunrise here even has its name!

The Seto-no-Akebono (迫門の曙) is the name given to the sunrise here. While the sun rises every day, the scenery is the most beautiful one week before and after the 210th day of the year in autumn!

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

How to Get to Seto-no-Akebono

  • From JR Oku Station (邑久駅), take the Setouchi Community Bus (瀬戸内市営バス) bound for Aiseien (愛生園) and get off at Mushiake Minatoguchi (虫明港口).
  • HERE is the timetable for the service. Please refer to page 15 to 17 of the PDF.
    • Page 15 and 16 are for weekdays
    • Page 17 is for weekends and public holidays.
  • The One-Day Bus Pass costs 200 yen

Okayama Ikoi no Mura (岡山いこいの村)

If you, like us, are not a morning person and just want to wake up to the breathtaking sunrise scenery, then you might want to stay overnight at Okayama Ikoi no Mura.

Located on a hill close to Seto-no-Akebono, this facility has its rooms and bath pools facing the Seto Inland Sea! Being able to admire one of the Top 100 Sunrise Scenery of Japan from your hotel room is definitely going to be one of the highlights of your next Japan trip (=゚ω゚)ノ.

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

During the cherry blossom season, usually from late March to early April, the scenery is upgraded with the pink flowers of 2,500 cherry trees!

Important: The Japanese-style guestroom doesn’t come with a shower room. So you will have to use the public bathing facility. Or, you can pay extra to reserve one of their smaller bath pool to enjoy your private bathing time with the magnificent view.

For some photos of their wide guest rooms, please refer to their website HERE.

Tip: For those who would like to try out various activities in Japan, there are accommodation plans that come with activities such as making a paper knife. Also, check with the staff to see if farm animals will be out in the courtyard during your stay!

How to Get to Okayama Ikoi no Mura

It is a 50-minute walk from Seto-no-Akebono (迫門の曙). So it will probably be easier to catch a taxi from JR Hinase Station (日生駅), which takes around 20 minutes.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Setouchi City.

Ushimado Shrine (牛窓神社)

Another great spot for a wide view of the Seto Inland Sea is the Ushimado Shrine.

The shrine, with a long history that goes as far back as the early 11th century was built on top of a hill. The 400 or so staircases leading to the shrine’s worship hall are testing the worshipers’ determination.

Fortunately, the pathway is covered by a tree tunnel that even in the boiling summer, the climbing is still bearable.

© Okayama Prefecture Tourism Federation

Tip: There is a lookout on the way to the main worship hall of the shrine for you to take a short break while enjoying the scenery!

If you are interested in the Japanese festivals, below is a list of main festivals that are held at Ushimado Shrine:

  • Spring Festival (春季例祭): the second Sunday of May
  • Summer Festival (夏越し大祓祭): the 30th of July
  • Autumn Festival (秋季例祭): the last Sunday of October

How to Get to Ushimado Shrine

It is a 25-minute walk from Ushimado Port/Ushimado (牛窓) bus stop.

You can also grab a taxi from JR Oku Station (邑久駅) Station, which will take around 20 minutes to get there.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Setouchi City.

Visit the Seto Ōhashi Bridge during Your Time at Okayama

We know that scenery of the Seto Inland Sea is awesome, but let’s combine this view with the Seto Ōhashi Bridge. It is currently the world’s longest 2-tiered bridge system!

With a total length of 13.1 km, it takes approximately 20 minutes to cross this bridge by car or train. If you want to see this record-breaking bridge which crosses five small islands in the Seto Inland Sea, visit our Kojima District article for more information (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Washuzan-Shoshuho-Seto-Inland-Sea
Click the photo to find out how to get to this gorgeous spot!

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