Port Trip around Seto Inland Sea in Light Truck (Part 1)
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Port Trip around Seto Inland Sea in Light Truck (Part 1)(Updated: )
This week, we drive a light truck around Kanmon Straits and visit various ports in search of delicious seasonal food. Along the way, we will enjoy great views of Seto Inland Sea. Our last stop will be the Seto Ohashi Bridge.
We first head to Yamaguchi Prefecture. As seafood is famous in Shimonoseki, we drop by the Karato Market, which faces the Kanmon Straits. It is known as the biggest market for pufferfish in Japan. Visitors can eat sushi and seafood rice bowls here at reasonable prices. For breakfast, we buy some tuna head, fatty tuna skin, rockfish, pufferfish soft roe and tiger pufferfish sashimi, which is a speciality of Shimonoseki. We relish these delicacies by the seaside.
After this, we drive to Honshu and make a stopover at a roadside restaurant, Michishio. Its clam soup using white miso has been its speciality for 50 years. We then drive to a privately-owned viewing spot. It is said to be one of the best spots in Yamaguchi to see the sunset in the Kanmon Straits. We then go to a bakery in the port town, whose salt bread is so famous that each customer is only allowed to buy five at a time. Each day, the bakery sells more than 1,000 of these rolls, which are made by adding German rock salt and Hokkaido butter to the bread dough.
Later, we drive our light truck to Ube Port, located in the west of Yamaguchi. We visit a market on the beach, where we try things like flathead sashimi, red sole, bobtail cuttlefish, white geoduck clam and heart clam. We also ask the fishermen about local hotels with hot springs. They suggest Yuda Onsen, one of the most famous hot spring areas in Yamaguchi. It was founded 800 years ago. According to legend, this hot spring was discovered when a white fox was spotted washing its injured leg in a pond. There are 15 hotels in this area and even six free foot baths for visitors.
We check into Yubetto Nohara, which was the first hotel in Yuda Onsen in the Muromachi era. It prospered as a private resort of the Mouri family of the Ogi Domain. For dinner, we feast on dishes featuring pufferfish, such as fried pufferfish and pufferfish hot pot, which is the hotel’s signature dish. After dinner, we relax in the hot spring before calling it a night.
On the second day, we drive to the seaside. We visit a prawn farm, where over 100,000 shrimps are farmed during the peak period. Aio in Yamaguchi was the first city where prawn farming was commercialised 50 years ago. We try our hand at prawn fishing, after which we grill and eat them. We then go to the Shiosai Market Bofu. There are many stores selling fresh seafood from Seto Inland Sea here. We try a popular local snack - fish croquettes made of cod, prawns and scallops.
Our next stop is Iwakuni city, where we visit the Kintaikyo Bridge. Built in 1673, it is one of the three most beautiful bridges in Japan. It is 200m long with three arches and is believed to be the only bridge in the world with such a structure. Gorgeous views can be enjoyed throughout the year from the bridge, such as cherry blossom trees in spring and dazzling fireworks in summer.
We spend the night at a hotel in front of Kintaikyo Bridge, called Iwakuni Kokusai Kanko Hotel. We stay in a huge room, Chiyono-ma, which has its own outdoor hot spring. For dinner, we head out to a restaurant in the mountains which is actually a well-known sightseeing spot in Iwakuni. Irori Sanzoku’s speciality dish is Sanzoku Yaki. Chicken thighs are dipped in a sweet and salty homemade sauce and slowly charcoal-grilled. We also order a big bowl of rice with sesame, salmon and plum wrapped in seaweed from Ube.
On the third day, we drive our light truck to Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a paradise of delicious food such as Hiroshima Yaki, oysters and Momiji cake. At Hiroshima’s Otake city, we drop by an oyster restaurant, where we savour raw and grilled oysters, and Miyajima oyster gratin with cream sauce. Ohnoseto is located on the opposite side of Miyajima. It is one of the biggest oyster producers in Japan. In fact, oysters in Hiroshima are 1.5 times bigger than usual oysters.
We decide to take a ferry to Miyajima but we first make a detour to check out the Ueno-ya restaurant. It was one of the first restaurants in the area to serve conger eel rice. The 10th generation manager of the restaurant began selling conger eel bento boxes at the old Miyajima Station in 1897. After trying the conger eel rice, we board the ferry heading to Miyajima, which has been designated as a World Heritage Site.
1) One of the best things about ports is savouring delicious seafood by the seaside
2) Fishermen at ports can also provide tips on where to stay and eat