Noilly Prattle: Getting Reacquainted 7 – The Inland Sea – 瀬戸内海 [Setonaikai]

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Getting Reacquainted 7 – The Inland Sea – 瀬戸内海 [Setonaikai]

Map -- Inland Sea Route

The Inland Sea - soft and hazy under a cloudy sky
     The winter phenomenon I call “cabin fever”, in relation to my own reaction to being cooped up for long winter days indoors, starts to get the better of me by the time mid-March rolls around. The feeling is as inevitable as the diurnal cycle or the lunar cycle or the planet's annual transit of the sun. Unlike those astronomical phenomena, however, I can do something about cabin fever—take a trip and a change of scene.

our car is the one on the left
on the ferry
     So, as an antidote for our not taking a long winter trip this year, this Getting Reacquainted series is my best solution for the winter blahs. Accordingly, Road Buddy and I decided on a trip to a group of islands in the Inland Sea between here and the city of Hiroshima by car with a one-night stop at a hot spring inn on one of the islands. We chose two days according to the weather forecast: Day 1 was expected to be cloudy with occasional showers (good for driving) and Day 2 was expected to be hazy sunshine (good for sightseeing).

ferry with manga characters
     There is a recently built road, known as the Shimanami Highway, that connects the main island of Honshu, step-stoning its way through a series of islands, to the large island of Shikoku consisting of a series of bridges between the islands. In the old days you had to take time-consuming ferry boats, so although the toll is quite expensive to traverse the entire route, the convenience makes it worth the cost. Besides, the ferry boats also cost money to use. Since the weather for the second day was forecast to be better, we decided to go a roundabout route on Day 1 that uses a ferry boat to get to the island on which our inn was located since it isn't one of the islands connected by the new road. We rode another ferry on Day 2 to reach an island that is connected by the Shimanami Highway bridge/road.

Kinoe hot spring inn on the hilltop
yukata -
kimono for sleep
     Kinoe Inn, on the southern end of Osaki-Kamizima Island, commanded a marvelous view of many of the islands, which presented a soft misty appearance in the cloudy sky. Like all Japanese hot spring inns it has men's and women's public baths which are used communally. This inn's bath was perched above the Inland Sea and had a splendid view of the surrounding islands. It is hard to describe the feeling of lying and relaxing in the hot spring water and being surrounded by the glory of nature—the word meditative comes to mind. Hot spring bathing, by the way, is one of the favorite pastimes of the Japanese people. Some of these hot spring inns can be truly elegant. Kinoe Inn was not one of the elegant traditional kind that we stayed at in Izu recently, but the bath and its view were peerless. And, lest I forget, the sunrise the following morning was something to take your breath away.

     I will just post a few pictures of the first leg of our little getaway that certainly did wonders as a cure for cabin fever.

fresh water bath with lemons

salt water bath with me

view from our room

stranded jellyfish

hazy sunrise on the Setonaikai


More later....

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