Inland Sea No. 3: Osakishimo Island
Kure Island chain
Osakishimo Island is off Hiroshima Prefecture in the Seto Inland
Sea. Osakishimo is one of six islands under the jurisdiction of the city of Kure, a maritime town known for building the famous battleship the Yamato (which, by the way, has a great museum dedicated to it). Since the Jomon Period, Osakishimo Island was only accessible by boat. But now, seven bridges that form the Akinada Tobishima Kaido connect the Kure islands, a project completed in 2009.
The Japanese are magnificent bridge builders and each of these connecting bridges is built aesthetically and in keeping with the surrounding scenery. But what they are linking isn’t just islands, but separate island cultures.
Each island is unique and its people and customs are too. Most people living on small islands have no carbon footprint at all. Just a carbon “toe print.” These are the roots of Japan, the real world, where people live among nature and live sustainable lives. It remains to be seen how Mitarai, a town originally built to serve passing traders on ships and samurai on their way to Edo, will deal with the new crowd buzzing through in automobiles looking for a convenience store.
At Yutaka-machi, Mitarai, you can see an old teahouse and a brothel that have been restored (sorry, not still in use). Samurai used to stop here to rest on their way to Edo (Tokyo) and back during the Edo Period (1603-1868). It’s a great place to walk around and observe the history of Japan and imagine how it must have been when the women wore kimonos and the men clopped around in geta sandals. It reminded me of a movie set. There is a nice hike up the hill for beautiful views of the Inland Sea.
But even with the bridge, I think these cultures will be around for a while longer to be experienced by those willing to go the extra mile to get to them. With the Akinada Tobishima Kaido connecting the Kure islands, there is no excuse not to go and see these places while they are still relatively untouched.
Tourist information office at Yutaka-machi with tours and info in Japanese. Some of the buildings are sign-posted in English.
Private boats should park at the Umi no eki (sea station). Look for an article on sea stations coming soon!