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Shimanami Kaido : Beyond the cycling routes

At this years company excursion, we traveled down south to Seto Inland Sea. Located in between Imabari, Ehime and Onomichi, Hiroshima. It took us about three hours to reach the port of Shitadami where we boarded a small cruise vessel to experience the Rapid Tides of the Kurushima Strait.

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Shitadami Port

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cruise vessel

Before the cruise started, the cruise staff at the port handed out brochures and provided guests with coats which was really a life saver – both from the cold chilly wind and the rough sea water ride ahead. During the cruise, our guide told us about the first thing that would great you when you arrive at port the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge.

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Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge

Completed in 1999, the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge spans a series of islands and connects Hiroshima Prefecture in the main island of Honshu to Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku making it the longest suspension bridge with a total length of 4 kilometers and comprised of three successive suspension bridges. It is a part of the Nishiseto Expressway or more famously known as Shimanami Kaido. With paths for both pedestrians and cyclists this 60 kilometer expressway has become a world famous cycling route.

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Kurushima Strait – whirlpool

Crossing one of Japan’s fastest currents the Kurushima Strait – famous for its rough tides with currents that could reach up to 10 knots and whirlpools whose vortices could reach over 10 meters (called Hachiman-Uzu) – is one of the major nautical highways in Japan where large ships for cargo and even for cruise ships pass thru everyday. But did you know that even during medieval Japan, this strait has been home to a powerful pirate family – the Murakami Suigun or Murakami Navy. Because of how skillful they where in navigating the rough tidal currents they dominated the island and eventually became the Samurai of the sea. To this day some traces of the Murakami pirates still remain when you visit the Seto Inland Sea. Like castle ruins and their descendants even still live in this area. Today due to its strategic location, Hashihama Port at Imabari City is home to Japan’s top shipping industries like Imabari Shipbuilding Group where a number of ships are built and repaired here.

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Hashihama Port

After our cruise we then went to the small island of Oshima, where we were greeted by our next tour guide. During the Meiji era, Japan built a coastal fortress here – the Geiyo Fortress which played a vital role during the Russian-Japanese war. The ruins of the old fortress is notably close to it original state. Another thing tourist would notice during the tour the camellias that are planted along the tour path. At port side a replica of the howitzer 28 cm L/10 which our tour according to our tour guide was used in one of NHK TV drama.

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Power Station Remains

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Power Magazine Remains

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Power Magazine Remains (Inside)

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replica of the howitzer 28 cm L/10

After experiencing the rapid tides at Kurushima Strait and learning about the Russian-Japanese War at Oshima. We boarded our bus again to head to our next stop. This time to sample the local seafood dishes at sennenmatu restaurant. I am no food expert but I guess the secret to why all the seafood dishes we sampled that day tasted so good was because of how fresh they were. And just like I said I am no food expert so really don’t know how to best describe each dish for you to be able to get an idea on how it taste like but I guess the next best thing I could do is to share pictures of these delicious dishes we sampled.

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Tempura

 

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Houroku Yaki

After that sumptuous lunch, we headed our way to Hakata Salt Co., Ltd. where we witnessed how they manufacture salt. To get a detailed description of how this process goes about here is an English link to their production process.

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Hakata Factory

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Salted Vanilla Ice Cream

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Shiojoka Concentrators

After our quick tour at the salt factory, we then headed to a shrine dedicated to the gods who protect sailors and soldiers – Ooyamazumi Jinjya / Oyamazumi Shrine.

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Resources

1. Imabari-Shimanami Cruise

2. Oshima

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