Discover the gateway to Setouchi at Hiroshima Airport

Japan’s Hiroshima Airport is ideally located to access the treasures of Setouchi, from island hopping to cycling and inspiring historical sites. 

Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto may top many first-time visitor’s to-do lists in Japan, but venture outside the tourist hubs and you’ll find a world of hidden gems and natural wonders. The Setouchi region in west Japan is a destination famous for the Seto Inland Sea and its islands. Bordered by Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa and Ehime prefectures, the Seto Inland Sea area is where you’ll find Japan’s best-kept secrets and authentic experiences.

woman walking bike across bridge
© Hiroshima Tourism Association

Get to know Setouchi

The Setouchi region of Japan is accessible, easy to navigate and has a temperate climate for most of the year. While the area has relaxed coastal islands, mountains, rugged terrain, pristine natural environments, a burgeoning art scene and historical sites, Setouchi is still a developing tourism destination. As such, visitors can enjoy the sights, sounds, attractions and flavours of this culturally rich area without big crowds, and get a taste of authentic Japan. The easiest and fastest way to gain access to this diverse region is by flying into Hiroshima Airport. 

Hiroshima Airport, your gateway to Setouchi 

Located adjacent to Central Forest Park in the city of Mihara in Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima Airport is located around 51km east of Hiroshima and is the largest airport in the Chūgoku-Shikoku region. Filled with shops, restaurants and lounge areas, the airport serves both domestic and international flights, making it a fantastic entry point for travellers looking to explore the Setouchi region. 

hiroshima airport
Hiroshima Airport

Take the cultural route to visit ‘Little Kyoto’ and hidden gems

The Takehara district is a quick taxi ride away from Hiroshima Airport and is known as ‘little Kyoto’ due to its abundance of well-maintained Edo-period buildings. Located about an hour and a half east of Hiroshima City on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea, Takehara is close to beaches, onsen and islands.

woman walking down street in japan
© Hiroshima Tourism Association

Stay at Nipponia Hotel Takehara, a converted storehouse and former residence, in the centre of Takehara’s historical district which retains much of its old-world charm. The four-star hotel has a restaurant and is within easy reach of Mitsujo Tumulus and Kagamiyama Castle ruins. The town of Takehara once prospered from salt manufacturing, but is now a cultural hub on a wide and shallow bay fringed by bamboo fields. The area is famous for its cuisine, with seafood, citrus fruits, sake and – of course – salt, taking centre stage. 

onsen with coastal views
Seifukan

On Osakikamijima, continue the journey of gastronomic discovery by visiting the Okamoto Soy Sauce Brewery. Here, visitors are taken behind the scenes to learn about traditional soy sauce production in a working brewery. No adventure through the Setouchi region is complete without a stop at Seifukan, a hotel on a Osakikamijima with a beautiful open-air bath with views overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. Stay at the hotel, sample local fare at the restaurant or grab a drink at the bar. 

Take the art route for museums, biking and ryokans

From Hiroshima Airport you can take a non-stop bus, taxi or drive to Mihara Port where ferries and transport options to the region’s islands and coastline are easily accessible. You can now find luxury accommodations, cultural activities and gastronomic discovery tours on many of the islands and throughout the wider Setouchi region. 

yellow sculpture on coastline
Ikuchi-jima

One of the islands near Mihara Port is Ikuchi-jima, one of the Geiyo Islands part of Onomichi City, and is famous for being the birthplace of lemons in Japan. Here, you’ll find sprawling lemon fields, Kosanji Temple, hiking and biking trails. Ikuchijima is visited for its Island-wide Art Museum, a project that transforms the entire island into an open-air gallery. Artists have chosen the locations for their works and created 17 pieces that response to the landscape.

While in Ikuchi-jima, stay at Azumi Setoda, a modern ryokan retreat set within a 140-year-old traditional house, or Soil Setoda, a communal living concept and hotel where visitors can meet the locals. From here, it is easy to embark on day trips to explore the yubune public bathhouse, where beautiful views of the Seto Inland Sea are painted all over the bathroom walls.

Another possible day trip is to Momoshima, where you can find Art Base Momoshima, an art centre on the island where the heritage of the region is explored through creative applications.

ART BASE MOMOSHIMA
Yukinori Yanagi Wandering Mickey (1990) ©️YANAGI STUDIO

Onomichi

Onomichi, an island close to Ikuchijima and Momoshima, is a quaint town with excellent connections to Setouchi Islands in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture. The Shimanami Kaido is a 60-kilometre stretch of road that connects six islands via bridges. The bicycle and pedestrian paths alongside the road offer cyclists a superb view of the Seto Inland Sea’s many islands and the beauty of the bridges’ formations. These islands are rich in history and culture. Make time to spend a night or two at Ryokan Onomichi Nishiyama, a traditional inn with luxurious Japanese accommodations, a library, tranquil gardens and restaurant serving innovative cuisine made from local ingredients.

Pagoda in Onomichi, Setouchi region
Onomichi © Adobe Stock

Finish off your tour with a stop at Senko-ji Temple in the middle of Mt. Senko-ji. This is one of the best viewpoints in Onomichi City and those willing to climb through Senko-ji Park can stop in at Bungaku no komichi, the Path of Literature, on their way to the Mt. Senko-ji summit observatory. 

Add a sailing on SEA SPICA

The SEA SPICA is a high-speed sightseeing cruiser that sails the archipelago. A scenic cruise through the Seto Inland Sea is a quick, easy and relaxing introduction to the Setouchi region. Join the Setouchi Shimatabi Line which takes around half a day to complete the Hiroshima Port and Mihara Port routes with stopover points.

Read more:
A beginner’s guide to island hopping Japan’s Seto Inland Sea
When is cherry blossom season in Japan?
Get a taste of the real Japan in Nagano and Kanazawa

This article was produced with content supplied by Setouchi Tourism and is a Vacations & Travel digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter below.

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