The warm sunshine shines on Greece’s Aegean Sea Place, a dreamy place to visit once in a lifetime. Japan has its own Aegean Sea in Okayama.
When traveling the Seto Inland Sea, you can tell that the area has always been a busy thriving spot.
Battle of Yashima between Genji and Taira clan in Yashima, the Murakami Suigun (Murakami Navy) that dominated the sea, since ancient times people went back and forth from the Inland Sea.
Ushimado in Okayama Prefecture has those trace of history. Trace of history of the messengers from Korean Peninsula, the Korean envoys.
There are not many public transportations that make Ushimado a little difficult to travel, so this may be a chance to walk and enjoy sightseeing.
- If you’re going from Kansai area, take the Sanyo Shinkansen line to Okayama, then transfer to the JR Ako Line and get off at Oku. And if you’re going from Shin-Kobe Station, the ride is about an hour and 30 minutes.
- Take the JR Kobe Line to Banshu Ako Station, from Banshu Ako Station you can transfer to the JR Ako Line. The train ride takes twice as long.
The Ushimado trip starts from this station. Oku Station is a modest station, but the station has a small tourist information center located in front of the station. MAP
- Due to limited public transportation, the easiest way to go around is by taking a taxi from in front of the station. It takes about 20 minutes by taxi to the Ushimado Olive Garden.
- If you’re confident with your physical strength and want to have an adventure, from Oku Station you can take the Tobi Bus bound for Ushimado. Then take off at the Olive Garden Entrance Bus Stop, and from there on you can walk. However, the slope to the olive garden is quite steep.
Ushimado Olive Garden
If you overlook the island and the sea from an open space at the hill of this olive garden, you will understand why Ushimado is called the “Aegean Sea of Japan.”
Just like Ushimado, the Shodoshima Island in Prefecture Kagawa known for its olives looks better from here.
From here, Shodoshima in Kagawa prefecture, which is known for its olives as well as Ushimado, can be seen well.
If you’re going solo, be prepared, because you’re going to see many couples in the area. MAP
- Although the place is a little far, it won’t get exhausted since it’s a downhill. It takes about 15 minutes on foot.
Marine Culture Museum (Ushimado Kaiyubunka-kan)
Marine Culture Museum displays materials related to Ushimado’s regional culture and Korean envoys during the Edo Period.
During the Edo Period, a group of Korean envoys from Korean Peninsula has deepened the regional exchange when they were at the port of call in Ushimado and coastal areas of the Seto Inland Sea.
The Korea delegation is also registered in UNESCO’s ‘Memory of the World’. (Opening hours from 09.00 to 17.00, Admission fee general: 300 yen, students: 150 yen) MAP
- A short walk down the street behind the Marine Culture Museum.
Honrenji Temple is located behind the Marine Cultural Museum. As you’re going up the stairs from the entrance, you’ll find the Honden (main shrine).
Possibly because the area often came into close contact with foreign cultures, here you can feel the Chinese and Korean atmosphere. The temple compound is a quiet and peaceful place.
It is said that this temple was also used as a port of call for the Korean envoys. MAP
- It takes about 30 minutes to get to Ushimado Temple on foot. And if you walk by the sea, it takes about 40 minutes to get there.
There is a majestic Torii gate next to the Ushimado Swimming Beach that leads to the approach to a gentle slope. MAP
You can see the seascape of Seto Inland Sea well from this approach. And there is an island called Maejima, only a six-minute ferry ride from Ushimado.
If you look closely at the vast blue sea lies beyond the horizon, you might able to see the wake left by the Korean envoys.
- Walk back to the Olive Garden Entrance bus stop.
- Take Tobi Bus bound for Oku Station – Saidaiji, then get off at Oku Station.
- Train ride from Okuto Okayama is around 30 minutes.