By Mandy Bartok
Experience the historic, dramatic scenery and local food of Shimonoseki City! Your trip starts as you arrive at Yamaguchi-Ube Airport (JAL offers four flights from Haneda Airport each day). From the lobby, head to the airport bus terminal and hop on the bus bound for Ichiro-Chimonoseki and in just over an hour alight at Karato Bus Stop and start exploring!
- (Flight JL291) Arrive at 9:30 at Yamaguchi-Ube Airport
- (Sanden Traffic Bus) Depart at 9:40 from the airport → Arrive at 10:50 at Karato Bus Stop
- (Flight JL293) Arrive at 13:40 at Yamaguchi-Ube Airport
- (Sanden Traffic Bus) Depart at 13:55 from the airport → Arrive at 15:05 at Karato Bus Stop
Japanese history buffs (and maybe even some video game enthusiasts) may know of Ganryujima as the site of the duel between, the legendary swordsman and author of the Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro over 400 years ago.
Visitors can take a 10-minute ferry ride from either Shimonoseki or Mojiko to see a statue depicting this epic duel. (The island is officially known as Funashima.)
Shimonoseki is famous for fugu, Japan’s famous pufferfish, but all kinds of locally-caught seafood can be found on the waterfront at the Karato Fish Market.
The best time to visit is the weekend and holidays during Iki-iki Bakangai when all the vendors’ offerings can be purchased individually as sushi toppings. You can try all the different varieties of seafood for a more than reasonable price! Indulge in coastal life eating on a wooden deck with an ocean view or on the rooftop lawn in the summer months.
- Address | 5-50 Karato-cho, Shimonoseki
- Tel | +81-83-231-0001
- Open | 05:00-15:00 (Mondays-Saturdays); 08:00-15:00 (Sundays & holidays)
- Iki-iki Bakangai | 10:00-15:00 (Fridays & Saturdays); 08:00-15:00 (Sundays & holidays)
After enjoying freshly caught fish at the market, take the highway 5 minutes towards Chofu and soon you’ll spot the vermilion of Akama-Jingu Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Antoku who drowned himself during the battle of Danoura. The shrine grounds also feature the emperor’s amitabha temple, the Heike family cemetery, and Nanamori-Zuka, which is also a family grave. At Hoichido Temple you’ll find the wooden statue of "miminashi hoichi", a main character of a famous Japanese horror story written by Yakumo Koizumi (also known as Lafcadio Hearn), and a treasure hall where you can see many rare historical documents relating to the famous samurai families of Heike and Genji, such as "The Tale of Nagato Heike" and "The Drawing of the Gempei Battle".
Take a quick 10-minute taxi from Akamu-Jingu, or if you feel like taking a more challenging route you can hike for 30 minutes along steep mountain roads. An even more spectacular view of the straits and the city below can be found from the peak of Mount Hinoyama. A 10-minute walk north from Mimosusogawa Park up a small hill leads to the ropeway station in Hinoyama Park, where you can ride a cable car to the 268-meter peak. The peak is also accessible by the toll-free Hinoyama Parkway (a 10-minute drive) and a walking trail (60-minute walk).
From the peak, you can enjoy a panoramic vista of the coast of Honshu, Kanmon Straits, the Seto Inland Sea, and the Sea of Japan. The nightscape is also a spectacular view.
The ropeway operates from spring to autumn and as the park is one of the city's most well-known spots for viewing cherry blossoms, we recommend visiting in late March or early April to enjoy the seasonal flowers. Alternately, April is also a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the Japanese seasons as the tulips burst into full bloom.
Chofu Castle Town
From Karato Akama-Jingu Shrine Take a bus bound for Chofu and it’ll take around 15 minutes to reach the historic Chofu Castle Town.
Chofu Castle Town is a must see for Japanese history buffs, and the Chofu Tourist Center is a convenient place to start your visit.
The center offers free parking, a gift shop on the first floor, and a restaurant serving fugu on the second floor. Bicycle rentals are also available.
Walking or cycling around the town will make you feel like you've stepped back into the Edo era (1603-1868), as you can enjoy historical samurai homes, gardens, earthen walls, and Kozan-ji Temple, a designated national treasure.
Chofu Mori Residence
The region's history is best exemplified by the Chofu Mori residence; it was once a family home and now operates as a historical site open to visitors. It was built in 1903 by a descendant of the Mori samurai family and once played host to Emperor Meiji. For 400 yen, you can enjoy matcha and Japanese seasonal sweets. You are encouraged to explore the garden and the different rooms of the house. The scenery is especially beautiful in the autumn. Kimono are available to try on for free, if you would like to get a photo of yourself in traditional Japanese garb.
- Address | 4-10 Chofu-Soshamachi, Shimonoseki
- Tel | +81-83-245-8090
- Open | 09:00-17:00 (last entry 16:30)
- Closed | Year-end/New Year holiday (28 December to 04 January)
- Admission | Adult 200 yen; Junior high school student or below 100 yen.
For those taking a one-day trip simply hop on a bus bound for Yamaguchi-Ube Airport from the Jokamachi Chofu Bus Stop.
Recommended one-day trip course
Schedule for July (may change every month)
- 07:40 Depart from Haneda Airport - JAL flight JL291
- 09:20 Arrive at Yamaguchi-Ube Airport
- 09:40 Depart from Yamaguchi-Ube Airport and take a Sanden Traffic Bus bound for Shimonoseki Station
- 10:50 Get off at Karato and walk for 5 minutes to the Karatoichi Pier
- 11:05 Take a ship bound for the Ganryushima Island (10 minutes)
- 12:15 Depart from Ganryushima
- 12:30 Walk around the Karato Market and grab lunch
- 13:30 Akama-Jingu Shrine
- 14:30 Hinoyama park
- 15:30 Chofu Castle Town and Mori Japanese Garden
- 16:53 Take a Sanden Traffic Bus from Jokamachi-Chofu Bus Stop bound for Yamaguchi-Ube Airport
- 17:58 Arrive at Yamaguchi-Ube Airport
- 19:10 Depart from Yamaguchi-Ube Airport - JAL flight JL297
- 20:40 Arrive at Haneda Airport
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