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The islands of Kurushima Strait

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > The islands of Kurushima Strait


Take a small ferry island hoping across three islands off the coast of Imabari

Imabari City



For travelers taking the 70-kilometer Shimanami Kaido cycling route from Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture to Imabari on the island of Shikoku, the Kurushima Strait is a side trip worth taking a break to explore.


Just 2 kilometers from the Imabari Sunrise Itoyama cycling terminal lies Hashihama Port, where small ferries can take visitors, and their bicycles, to the three tiny islands of the strait. With each island having its own unique history and sights, the journey is like hopping through time.


On Kurushima, the smallest of the triplet, sit the ruins of structures built by the 14-15th-century Murakami clan, Japan’s largest group of kaizoku, often translated to “pirates.” Despite their intimidating moniker, the Murakami Kaizoku behaved as a merchant navy, keeping the peace and ensuring safe sea trade during Japan’s period of civil wars.


The next ferry stop fast forwards to the 19th century at Oshima. Here the remains of military foundations of a Meiji Era (1868-1912) fortress stand, built during the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War.


Umashima, the last island, brings visitors back to the present. A haven of sandy beaches, camping grounds and picturesque views, it also features an elevator to the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge, the longest suspension bridge of the Shimanami Kaido.


How to get there


15 minutes by car from JR Imabari Station to Hashihama Port. Alternatively, 2 kilometers by bike from the Imabari Sunrise Itoyama cycling terminal.



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