he region of Setouchi in Japan is full of wonder…from ancient sites to curious culinary creations, healing hot springs to authentic ryokans and an impressive art scene that is reflected not only in galleries and museums but in highly stylistic hotels and sleek architecture against backdrops of traditional structures that have stood the test of time and elements.
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-THE OLDEST ISLAND IN THE WORLD
According to this myth, when there was no land on Earth, two gods stirred the sea with their spears to create a vortex which created Awaji Island and today, you can still see the world’s largest whirlpools in the Naruti Strait between Awaji and Shikoku. Due to it’s mild climate, the island is dotted with flowers that change color throughout the seasons, and a brilliant spectrum of activities from cycling to sea kayaking, hiking and beyond.
-A PRIVATE ISLAND THAT’S YOURS FOR A DAY
Kujira-Jima is an uninhabited island just 30 minutes by boat from Tamano City, Okayama. Book the entire whale-shaped island full of rich natural wonders exclusively and enjoy cottage or glamping accommodations, canoeing, hiking, sauna and total privacy. There is even a Yuga Shrine at the summit which sits auspiciously in the middle of two larger shrines in Okayama and Kagawa that travelers can visit.
-THE CASTLE ON A CLOUD WHERE THE LORD CAT LIVES
Truth. There’s a “floating” castle in Okayama that is guarded by a cat. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi-city dates back to the late 12th Century and in the early morning hours from September to April, a dense fog forms around the mountain on which the castle sits, giving it the appearance of floating in the sky. Highly Instagrammable! As for the cat, Takahashi-city was hit by a terrlble rain storm in 2018 but a 3 year old cat survived. Named Sanjuro after a famed military captain, he drew visitors from far and wide, prompting a strong recovery in visitor numbers and he’s become the official ambassador.
-A BRIDGE THAT CAN ONLY BE CROSSED TWICE A YEAR
Tsushima in the Kagawa Prefecture connects to the mainland of Shikoku by a 25 meter bridge and it can only be visited twice a year on 04 and 05 August when the summer grand festival is held. The bridge plank is laid exclusively for guests to be able to flock to the small island and enjoy the fantastic views of the Tsushima shrine illuminated by fireworks and colors reflected in the sea on the night of 04 Aug which is an annual spectacle, complementing the special ceremonies and religious events that are part of the festival. And then, after 05 Aug, the bridge is removed until the following year.
-WHAT IS OKONOMIYAKI?
Hiroshima Prefecture has a complex history but its signature food has made quite a name for itself! Okonomiyaki is a pan-fried wheat batter topped with ingredients of one’s choice from cabbage and meet with a sweet and salty sauce, or even various varieties of udon. It’s remained the true comfort food of Hiroshima from the 1940s when locals were challenged to survive during and after the war. When food was distributed, locals started creating this kind of dish due to abundance of wheat flour and the topping selections evolved. Many of old okonomiyaki diners have the name ‘* * – chan'(chan is an intimate title for the female). This also reflects that hard time after war in Hiroshima. Many women lost their husbands in the war or the atomic bomb, and those widows refurbished their houses and began okonomiyaki diners. The name ‘* * – chan’ shows their courage and resolution to overcome the difficulties, not something venerable passed down in generations. There are reportedly about a thousand okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima Prefecture. Every one of them has different taste and price is around 600 to 1000yen per meal. It will be fun to find your favorite.
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