Thanks to the Setouchi Tourist Office, I was able to discover this beautiful region of Japan. This offers a variety of experiences that will fill everyone’s heart. For those who are passionate about culture, nature or looking for something unusual, I share with you some activities that you can do during your stay in Setouchi.
A CULTURAL JOURNEY TO JAPAN.
EXPLORE HIMEJI CASTLE AND ITS GARDEN.
The largest castle in Japan, I was impatient to discover it even before entering the site. I had seen so many photos of the castle that I couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes.
I am surprised at first to see him from the streets of the city. I thought I would find him further from Himeji. The path that leads us to the castle allows us to observe the castle from different angles. The crows croak merrily until we enter Himeji Castle. Spoiled by the good weather, I have wonderful memories of the place. Inside, my feet bare, I discover a wooden building full of clever defenses. The visit ended, I discovered a panoramic view of the magnificent city.
After visiting the castle, I advise you to go to the Kobo-en garden, laid out using gardening techniques from the Edo period.
Tip: it is better to be accompanied by a guide or to have an audio guide. Otherwise you will not find any information inside the castle.
WALK THROUGH THE STREETS OF HONJIMA.
The largest islands in the Shiwaku Archipelago, Honjima has participated in the maritime control of Seto for centuries. Namely, the island was independent and not ruled by the emperor. The rulers therefore lived on the island.
Equipped with a bicycle (electric, it’s always better), here I am in the alleys of Honjima. My pedal strokes lead me to discover the rulers house and a temple. Then, I let myself be carried through the streets of the old town which has an undeniable charm. Indeed, the traditional architecture of wooden houses does not leave me indifferent.
The island also participated in the Setouchi Triennale in 2019, so you can see works exhibited outdoors on the island.
Tip: You can get to the island by boat from Marugame Port (Shikoku) or Kojima Port (Honshu).
Ideally, you can visit the island by bicycle. Allow 3 hours to fully visit the island.
A NATURE TRIP TO JAPAN.
ADMIRE THE RITSURIN GARDEN.
A real favorite of this trip to the Setouchi region, the Ritsurin garden invites you to relax. The perfect place for those who want to relax and unwind. Located in the city of Takamatsu, this Eden is however cut off from the outside sound. There is no noise from vehicles here, you are simply lulled by the song of birds and the water. The atmosphere is relaxing and influences your well-being. The elements of the landscape are reflected in the water of the park. I felt like I was in an impressionist painting at the time.
The garden offers two paths, one of which is one hour long. You can decide to follow it or let yourself be carried away in this setting. If you wish, it is also possible to sail on the water in a boat in order to discover the garden from a different perspective.
BREAKING THE MYSTERY OF BONSAIS.
Located more than two hours from Takamatsu, the garden that we were able to visit allowed us to solve some mysteries about Bonsai trees. I am not particularly interested in plants. I like to admire them but when it comes to taking care of them that’s another story! And yet, I became passionate about discovering Bonsai, learning how the name Bonsai was formed, how it grew and was maintained … I understand better the price of these Bonsai! We were able to see a 300 year old Bonsai tree that cost 466,000 euros, just that. It was fun to discover Bonsai trees of different shapes. Everyone is therefore free to let their interpretation run wild.
AN UNUSUAL TRIP TO JAPAN.
GET UP ON THE SETO BRIDGE.
Arrived at the parking lot of the bridge, I look with a puzzled eye at the people arriving towards us with equipment worthy of caving. I am fond of new activities so I put on the yellow vest and the helmet that I am handed without comment (or very little). Harnessed, I enter one of the pillars of the bridge. The atmosphere of the place really makes me think of caving. Our ride in the elevator feels like a descent into a mine. Then as we go up it looks like we enter a submarine. Indeed, short ladders take us through traps. Then I understand the importance of the helmet when my head spiritedly hits the ceiling.
Halfway up the pillar, we exit to cross a footbridge to another pillar. In doing so, we are at the level of the train which passes just below the cars. The catwalk allows us to admire the sea. When we reach the top of the other pillar, we go outside and are rewarded with the magnificent view we have. Our strategic location is ideal for having a clear view of two of the country’s main islands: Honshu and Shikoku. This activity is really original and allows you to discover Japan in a whole new way.
If you feel dizzy or suffer from claustrophobia, refrain from doing this climb. You risk experiencing too much thrill.
PARTICIPATE IN A TEMPLE FIRE CEREMONY.
During our stopover on Shodoshima, an authentic island where it is 15 ° C all year round and rains very rarely, we had the opportunity to visit a temple that is both Buddhist and Shinto. We reach the place on a small mountain road. It is therefore difficult to find the place by chance.
Greeted by a monk, we climb the steps to a small temple. We make a small detour to head towards a statue. Everyone goes around it in order to get good luck and that nothing more can happen to us. All this in a magnificent setting since we have a view of the bay and the mountains. The place must be magical at sunrise or sunset.
Then, we finally enter the temple where the spiritual atmosphere invades us. We each write a wish on a stick and then the fire ceremony begins. Turning towards the altar, our backs to the monk, we listen religiously to recite his prayers. We turn around at the end to collect ourselves around the fire. The room is loaded with emotions. This moment is simply incredible and intense to live.