Take a bullet train to discover the area near the Seto Inland Sea
Japan 2019 Transport Guide: JR West Japan
From the rugby venues in Kobe and Osaka or Tokyo and Yokohama, you can reach the Setouchi area by shinkansen…
A JR-West Setouchi Area Rail Pass is a great option if you plan to travel around the Seto Inland Sea region by train. It covers five days and you can purchase it from travel agents outside Japan or in the region itself. Many other rail passes are available. See westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket
The Culture Vulture
Okayama’s Korakuen Garden is rated one of Japan’s three best gardens and dates back 300 years. Tie in a stroll there with a visit to Okayama Castle, also situated on the Asahi River.
The Bikan Historical Area in Kurashiki is the most picturesque merchants’ quarter in Japan and you can take a traditional boat trip down the canal.
In Hiroshima, you’ll find the Atomic Bomb Dome, which remains as a reminder of the 1945 attack. You can also visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, opened in 1955 to advocate world peace while charting the build-up and aftermath of the bombing.
The Seto Inland Sea is known for its fresh seafood – conger eel and octopus among the favourites.
Hiroshima is also Japan’s biggest producer of oysters, so they are a must-try when in the area. There are various ways to enjoy them – fried, steamed, grilled, raw or with miso (kaki-no-dote-nabe).
Head to Miyajima, a small island in Hiroshima Bay. This provides one of Japan’s top three scenic views and the island is home to the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site with a ‘floating’ torii gate. There are plenty of hiking trails from which you can explore the island too.
The Rugby World Cup also coincides with the autumn dates (28 September to 4 November) of the Setouchi Triennale art festival. The theme this year is Restoration of the Sea and you can reach the main venue, Naoshima Island, by train and ferry in only one-and-a-half hours from Okayama.
The Party Animal
For the best nightlife, head to Nagarekawa in Hiroshima. Once a creative centre for artists and writers, Nagarekawa’s narrow streets, which are something of a maze to traverse, are now full of food and drink establishments. There’s even an Irish pub, Molly Malone’s!
Other top bars are the Ofuku Kimono & Sake Bar, where you can not only try local dishes and drinks but be fitted with a kimono, and Tropical Bar Revolucion, which is renowned for its cocktails.