Setonaikai National Park was one of the first national parks to be designated in Japan, along with Unzen and Kirishima in 1934. Of the area surrounded by the four straits of Kitan, Naruto, Kanmon and Hoyo, the park area includes the vast sea area and islets of the Setonaikai Sea, as well as scenic observation points ashore overlooking the Inland Sea.
Setonaikai National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and a permit is not required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time.
The distinct feature of this park is archipelago seascapes of the inland sea studded with numerous islands and islets of varied sizes. The coastal area abounds with observation points.
The area around the Setonaikai Sea has enjoyed a flourishing culture since early times, with inhabitants coexisting with nature. Areas of terraced fields, port towns awaiting a favorable tide, and people living in a state of intimate connection with nature are signature scenes in this park.
The calm waters of the Setonaikai Sea have areas with strong currents due to straits, complicated seabed topography and differences in tide levels. In particular, Naruto Strait, Funaori-Seto and Ondono-Seto are all very famous. Visitors can experience a journey on a tidal current boat in the Naruto Strait and Funaori-Seto.
The Setonaikai Sea has long prospered as a key junction of maritime traffic; this, coupled with a mild climate, led to the area being populated by a substantial number of people. The popularity of the area led to the creation of old port towns, shrines, temples, and terraced fields utilizing inclined planes, where people live their everyday lives in harmony with nature.
The beautiful stretches of sandy beach, such as Keino-Matsubara, Shibukawa Beach, Tsudano-Matsubara, Katsura Beach and Karako Beach, have weathered white granite sand. These are bordered by pine trees planted to prevent the wind from eroding the sand and are one of the profound cultural landscapes to be enjoyed here.
Miyajima Island, renowned as one of the “Nihon Sankei,” Japan's three most scenic places, is famous as one of the finest representative places of scenic beauty. Itsukushima-jinja Shrine was registered as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1996, along with the adjacent Natural Monument of the Misen Primeval Forest.