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Access guide for Ushimado

It's worth finding your way to this coastal resort town

Ushimado town is a seaside resort town that hugs a coastline ripe with sparkling bays and verdant hills. The locals are very friendly and love to help out travelers, even if the amount of English language is close to zero. There are hidden shrines, yacht ports, Mediterranean olive gardens and island hideaways to keep you busy. Like many of Japan's resort towns Ushimado is best experienced in the summer time when the weather is fine and all the shops are open. The town is best explored by car, though walking serves well if you're fit and keen.

Getting into the town via public transport is a surprisingly patchy process given how near it is to Okayama city (the biggest transit hub in the area). From Okayama Station you need to take the JR Ako line to Saidaiji station, where you transfer on to a Ryobi bus. The bus leaves from directly outside the Saidaiji station at irregular intervals. It's typically hourly, but it's occasionally half-hourly and sometimes only once per hour and a half, so it's a bit pot-luck as to how long you have to wait (check the bus timetable to line up your train).

The bus takes half an hour to get to Ushimado town (which is its final stop), and there are plenty of spots to get off at along the way. I suggest getting off at the Olive Garden (Oriibu-en) to put you next to the marina, though you can get off at the last stop if you want to get to the beach as quick as possible. Once you're in Ushimado town you can walk from the beach (east side) to the yacht club (west side) in about 45 minutes. A notable part of the town and attractions are in the hills that skirt the coast, though, so walking to some of those areas can take a fair effort, especially in the summer. It's a very laid back place and the roads are usually pretty free of traffic. Beyond the odd bus, there's practically no public transport. You can rent a bike from the Maejima ferry terminal.

If you're taking the car in (and this is certainly the easiest way to explore the Ushimado town and Setouchi city) then get on to the national road no.2 heading east from inner Okayama until you can take the Okayama Blue Line exit (road no.397). The Okayama Blue Line will take you into Setouchi city, and from there road no.39 will take you south to the coast and Ushimado town. It's only 30km and 40 minutes from central Okayama.

Immediately nearby is the island of Maejima (aka Green Island), a sizeable tropical paradise that is largely forested with the occasional beach and hamlet. The island has a lighthouse and a decent sized dock. Every so often you can see the ferry making its brief journey to and fro, and it leaves at intervals of anywhere between 20 minutes to 60 minutes with a short 5 minute journey. It costs 240 yen for adults, 120 yen for children, 1080 yen for small cars (under 4m), 1340 yen for medium cars (under 5m) and 1800 yen for large cars (under 6m). It's open between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.. There are a few smaller islands nearby that add to the perspective of a sheltered coastal paradise, though you'll have to charter a boat or perhaps a kayak to get there. If you want to find your way to this pleasant resort town you'll be handsomely rewarded with a laid back atmosphere and a beautiful environment.

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