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The Setouchi Retreat (Part 1)

7 Prefectures, 1 Seto Inland Sea. That is how vast the Setouchi’s coverage is from Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama and Hyogo Prefectures in Honshu and Kagawa, Tokushima and Ehime Prefectures in Shikoku. The Setouchi’s unique identity and beauty comes from the many islands, each with its own personality and traditions, that dots Japan’s equivalent of Europe and North Africa’s Mediterranean. On this 2-part journey, we uncover some of the most fascinating culture, arts, crafts, lifestyle, gastronomy as well as traversing deep inland into the less-trodden parts of Shikoku.

This journey outline is by no means fixed. As the traveller takes centre stage in our planning – from the type of lodging to daily activities – your journey will be crafted to suit you.

Day by Day Highlights

Day 1
Arrive Tokyo / Hiroshima / Takehara / Ikuchijima

Stroll the nostalgic townscape of Takehara. Spanning a 350 year history, Takehara was renowned as a merchant town specializing in salt-making and sake in the Chugoku region of Japan. Visit the Zen Saihoji Temple overlooking Takeharaand the Fumeikaku that enshrines the wooden eleven-faced kannon statue and an impressive three-storied roof, and a stage, built to imitate Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera Temple.

Make a stop at the NIPPONIA Hotel Takehara Saltworks Town, a beautifully-restored hotel that allows you an immersive experience of the bygone days of the wealthy salt farm owners, known as “Hama-danna” translated to salt magnates. Enjoy a gastronomic lunch at its Le Un Restaurant that celebrates the fusion of elevated French cuisine with Japanese principles.

Day 2

A full day to explore the “Lemon Island” of Japan, thanks to its warmer climate which offers the perfect conditions for growing of citrus fruits. Walk along the Shiomachi Shopping Street, coming across nostalgic shops and food stalls that are heavily-influenced by the island’s lemons while understanding first-hand the importance lemons brings to its economy. Visit the Kosanji Temple, a bizarre and unusual temple complex filled with replicas from Japan’s most renowned religious sites as well as a long cave lined with statues and artifacts said to represent the notion of hell in the Buddhist faith. Be in awe at the “Miraishin-no-Oka” Hill of Hope, a white marble garden where all marble materials used in the design was mined in Italy and transported to Japan by sea.

Pay a visit to the Shimagokoro, a confectionary that harvest the organic lemons of Setoda to create unique lemon cakes primarily amongst other lemon food products including lemon jam, lemon-infused olive oil, juice, lemon vinegar and more. Enjoy a tour of a lemon green house farm facility where we enjoy an insiders’ experience to learn about lemon cultivation behind the scenes. Culminate the day at the Kojoji Temple on Mt Choonzan – a designated National Treasure with its three-storied pagoda over looking the Setoda harbor, enjoy probably the most spectacular views of the island. Worth a visit is the Minatoya Restaurant at SOIL Setoda, once a salt storehouse that has now been converted into a facility with accommodation, café, and shop.  

Day 3
Ikuchijima / Innoshima / Onomichi / Sailing the Seto Inland Sea

Drive to the island of Innoshima, visiting the reimagined Innoshima Suigun Castle, built in 1983 as a re-creation of what it was visioned to be during the turbulent days of the era, and the bloody battles with Oda Nobunaga’s superior naval force. Arrive into Onomichi, characterized by the many narrow slopesand alleys spread across the town. Experience a ropeway to the top of Mt Senkoji where we get to marvel at the wondrous views of the straits between mainland Honshu and the Setouchi islands.

We will embark then drive to the Bella Vista Marina embarking onto The Guntu , the luxurious “floating ryokan” designed by famed architect, Yasushi Horibe , creating the epitome of tradition and modern design. The Guntu floats on the Seto Inland Sea, offering you an infinite opportunity to relax in a striking landscape dotted by the Setouchi islands. With 19 rooms, all boasting its own terrace and gorgeous sea views, experience a retreat that is unlike any other in Japan. Setting sail at 1630hrs , this will be the beginning of a 2 night rejuvenation in style.

Day 4
Sailing the Seto Inland Sea

Awake this morning for a sumptuous breakfast as we set sail again from the coast of Tamano past the island of Teshima before arriving into Shodoshima – “The Island of Olives”. On a shore excursion, disembark for a visit of the incredible array of food produce that Shodoshima is renowned for. Visit a Shodoshima somen factory with over 400 years of somen-making legacy that are made using the traditional hand-stretched method to acquire a deliciously-chewy texture. We will also visit the Shodoshima olive oil farm in the birthplace of olive cultivation in Japan. Finally, we make a dedicated visit to the famous Yamaroku Soy Sauce Factory, with an unmatched tradition of producing soy sauce in “kioke” cedar wooden barrels listed as a “Registered Tangible Cultural Property”.

Return onboard The Guntu and continue our voyage the many straits and group of islands. Enjoy a pampering spa perhaps or deck out in the open area to practice yoga. The rest of the day is at leisure to unwind.

Day 5
Sailing the Seto Inland Sea / Onomichi / Tomonoura / Kurashiki

Spend the final morning sailing the channels in idyllic peace later, arrive back into Bella Vista Marina where we disembark and drive to the beautiful port town of Tomonoura, blessed with a relaxed atmosphere and divine scenery as we discover Tomonoura’s history as a pivotal shipping trade center on a walking tour through its narrow back streets. Stroll in the historic Termachi-dori street lined with temples leads to the Ota Residence, designated as Japan’s Important Cultural Property in 1991 and regarded as the birthplace of “Houmei-shu”.

Admire the Joyato Stone Lighthouse, recognized as the symbol of Tomonoura since the Edo Period. Visit the Fukuzenji Temple and its famous Taichoro Pavilion, used as a hall for distinguished guests and emissaries during the Edo Period, regarded as one of the best sceneries in Asia with unspoiled views of the Seto Inland Sea. A short drive takes us to the Sangyo Factory, an ironworks blacksmith company founded in 1951 that has succeeded a company forging sea anchors for over a century.

Day 6
Kurashiki The Rice Storehouse and “Venice” of Japan

Enjoy a walking tour of the Bikan Historical Quarter, lined with distinctive white-walled houses and buildings lining the banks of the Kurashiki River, earning its recognition as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. Consider a visit to the Ohara Museum of Art (OPTIONAL), the first privately-operated museum of western art in Japan featuring master pieces from El Greco, Monet and Gaugin amongst many other modern and contemporary Japanese and western art.

Drive to the stunning Yugasan Rendaiji Temple on a private and exclusive visit of the temple grounds with your monk host and a blessing and enjoy a delicious Shojin-ryori vegetarian cuisine. Continue to Kojima, “Denim Capital of Japan”. Where we will learn about the famous textile that has gain international acclaim and a stroll through Kojima Jeans Street – featuring more than 30 shops that specialize in high quality jeans.

Day 7
Departure Kurashiki

Our journey comes to an end today where you may continue your onward journey in Japan or transfer to Okayama Station for your bullet train ride to Osaka for your return flight home.

Let’s plan your perfect escape. To start the conversation, contact us via our interactive form or drop us an email at


Practical Information

Locations covered

Takehara, Ikuchijima, Innoshima, Onomichi, Setouchi Sailing, Shodoshima, Tomonoura, Kurashiki

Recommended months to travel

Late March – Early December

Level of difficulty


Indicative price

SGD$17,000 - $23,000/pax based on twin-sharing, on a private basis. Excludes international flights.

As we’ll customise your journey based on your preferences and needs, please note that this indicative price is just a rough estimate. Prices can fluctuate depending on season, type of accommodation and activities/experiences chosen (private vs. shared) etc.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

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