The weather was mostly cloudy and wet during our 3 days of boating in the Inland Sea, but we still had a marvelous time. BIL and SIL were fabulous hosts; we were comfortable and ate well the entire time. You can see their recent route (including our island hopping) HERE. And if you want to read in detail about their 11-year “Migrations” journey that began in California and has taken them to Japan, you can do so HERE.
Our train arrived in Onomichi from Tokyo mid-afternoon. It was a short walk from the station to the boat, so we stowed our luggage, got a tutorial on how to flush the pump toilets, and turn lights on and off. (Sailboats in Japan are not common, and are referred to as “yacht-o” and the Japanese folks in the various places we visited were very curious about the boat.)
We then took a short walk to ride a small tram up to the top of the mountain and followed the “temple walk” back down into town.
The views at the top are impressive. Onomichi is a shipping and shipbuilding area.
While Europe has its churches and cathedrals, Japan has an abundance of temples (Buddhist) and shrines (Shinto), some of which are quite old.
We enjoyed dinner in one of the small local restaurants (has a Michelin star and was excellent!). Much sake was consumed as we caught up.
The next morning after breakfast, we cast off for the island of Omishima, a trip of about 3 hours. (The photo at the top of the post is of our view while docked there.) Immediately above, the entrance to the town of Imabari. Those stone lanterns on either side of the road mark this as a “sando,” or street that leads to a Shinto shrine.
If you’re into ancient Samurai armor and equipment, the Oyamazumi Shrine on the island houses a museum with the largest collection in Japan. There’s also museum of oceanography and science as well as a 3000-year-old camphor tree in the courtyard which is pretty impressive. But this entrance to the shrine was my favorite part. It’s just beautiful, and seemed to be constructed of cedar wood which smelled amazing.
This island is home to the legend of Tsuruhime, the warrior princess. The Samurai museum includes her armor and displays featuring her. There are also several statues, plaques and commemorations around the town.
We spent one night docked there, and then the next morning headed off to nearby Ikuchi-jima Island. We had an unexpected wind and were able to raise the sails for a little while. The rain let up enough to enjoy some sailing time on deck.
No, that tee shirt wasn’t part of my travel wardrobe. I’d sweated through most of my tops and needed to give things a wash, so borrowed this tee for the duration of our time on the boat.
We climbed up to the top of the hill to see this colorful pagoda up close. Had we not been swarmed by mosquitoes, we would have spent more time up there; it was lovely and peaceful. These islands are popular with bicyclists, thanks to some great bike paths and lanes that go from island to island by a series of bridges. It’s a big tourist draw.
We spent one night docked there, and then it was time to return to Onomichi to catch our train to Kyoto. While BIL and SIL secured the boat, we wandered around Onomichi a bit more.
The cute local ferry boats have a pagoda on top.
Had the Best Iced Coffee Of My Entire Life from one of the local coffee roasters.
Above, pounding rice into dough to make stuffed rice balls.
And though I didn’t get photos of my own, we also stopped into Onomichi Denim, which takes vintage denim to a new level. Vintage, as in provenance, as in you know whose jeans you’re wearing. They give out new pairs of a particular to various participants, from fishermen to college professors to factory workers to shopkeepers, who wear them for a year and then return them to be sold. (Yes, they’ve been washed.) As we walked along the row of jeans, the Sales Associate pointed out who each of them had been worn by. I was tempted to try some on, but we were running out of time to catch our train.
We’re in Kyoto now, and there’s so much to see and do here, we’re already wishing we’d scheduled more time! I’ll share more photos in a few days…