The Shimanami Kaido is an expressway that connects various prefectures and islands in the Seto Inland Sea. It is a popular route for cyclists, but another way to enjoy the surrounding scenery is by a boat cruise. This 50-minute boat ride is a great way to see what resides in the Seto Inland Sea.
From the docking area is a great view of the Seto Inland Sea with the Shimanami Kaido. As we made our way down the dock onto the boat, the guide instructed us to put on the life vests before we departed. When the boat left the dock, it sped off to some of the nearby islands. En route we passed under one of the bridges of the Shimanami Kaido and the sheer size of the structure was an amazing sight.
Soon enough, we were next to an island where we can clearly see a replica howitzer, which was modeled after the guns used to ambush Russian fleets during the Russo-Japanese war. A few remains of the fortress are scattered about the island. Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to go on the island, but there are ferries available if we ever plan on visiting the area again.
Later on, the guide told us the history of the area and how at a time the Murakami Clan ruled the sea. They are referred to as pirates, but instead of looting and attacking they chose to protect the Seto Inland Sea in a unique. In exchange for a portion of the cargo on ships, they provided safe travels through their rough waters. The Murakami Clan were skilled sailors and helped those who paid for the service of flying their colors. If the Murakami did not see their clan flag raised on a ship, then they would attack them in defense. Some of the forts of the Murakami can be seen on various islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
The next site we went to was a shipbuilding and repair port. We saw these massive ships docked and one that was currently being built. The top shipbuilding companies are located in this one port. We were lucky on our cruise as we had the opportunity to cruise near one of the boat’s rudder while it was docked. The guide told us that most of the time you can only see the ships in the distance. A celebration is held every time a ship is completed and is a great occasion to participate.
The last part of our journey headed towards an area where we can see whirlpools. Our guide told us that if we are lucky we can see 40-meter whirlpools. It is always changing and dependent on the conditions of the Seto Inland Sea. Even though we were lucky at the boat yard, it did not extend to the whirlpool area. We got to see small ones scattered here and there, but our guide had a photo of what a large whirlpool would look like in the area.
As we made our return back to the port we were treated with a song. The guide sang, “Seto no Hanayome,” which is a famous song about the Seto Inland Sea. It was a nice melodic song that suited the end of a cruise.