FIfty-three Stages on the Shimanami Highway

The “Shimanami Highway” linking Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture with Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture opened on May 1, 1999. This collection includes sixty watercolor drawings and three completed paintings created for the special exhibition
“Fifty-three Stages on the Shimanami Highway” held from May 1 to August 5, 1999 in commemoration of the opening of the bridge.

Fiftye-three Stages on the Shimanami Highway MAP

Onomichi

onomichi
  • senkoji

    1The Bell Tower of Senkoji Temple, The View of Onomichi Bridge

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  • Tower of Ten'neiji Temple

    2The Path to Senkoji, The Tower of Ten’neiji Temple

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Onomichi is a medium-size city with a rich history and culture also known as the setting for literary works of the writer Naoya Shiga. The channel-like river between Onomichi and Mukaishima Island creates a decent natural harbor.
The city of Onomichi stretches narrowly along the channel, and famous temples such as the Jodoji Temple and the Tenneiji Temple scatter among private residences on the slope that climbs sharply up to Senkoji Mountain. This is in fact a characteristic of the town: walls and stone steps appear to be clinging to the slope of the mountain.

Onomichi Bridge

Onomichi Bridge
  • Onomichi Bridge

    3A View of Onomichi Bridge from Ten’neiji Temple

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  • 尾道と向島を結ぶ 尾道大橋と 新尾道大橋

    4Onomichi Bridge and New Onomichi Bridge between Onomichi and Mukaishima

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The original bridge linking Onomichi with Imabari dates from a long time ago. However, a new Onomichi Bridge linking Onomichi and Mukaishima Island was included in plans to link Onomichi with Imabari with a new highway officially called the Shimanami Highway. The view of these two new and old bridges together is a new scenery of Onomichi.
A panoramic view of towers of old temples, the city area of Onomichi, the channel, the port, shipyards, Mukaishima Island and the new and old bridges can be seen from the precincts of the Tenneiji Temple. The history, technologies, cultures, lives and nature all blend for a harmonious vista.

Mukaishima Island

Mukaishima Island
  • Mukaishima, Mt. Myouken

    5Mukaishima, Tachibana Area, Mt. Myouken

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  • Mukaishima,Tachibana Area

    6Mukaishima,Tachibana Area, Yuke Island, Toyoshima Island, Uoshima Island

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From time immemorial Mukaishima Island has filled the vision when looking out from Onomichi. Onomichi which has been flourishing as a local city from early on and the islands of the Seto Inland Sea provide a beautiful visual contrast.
Mukaishima Island is also known for the longevity of its inhabitants.
This is often attributed to the preponderance of seaweed in their diet, but it might also be because of their living in harmony with the nature that abounds in their environment. Though the island is linked with Onomichi by bridge, the island has its own unique spirit.

Innoshima Bridge

Innoshima Bridge
  • A View of Innoshima and Innoshima Bridge from Mukaishima

    7A View of Innoshima and Innoshima Bridge from Mukaishima

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  • Innoshima Bridge

    8Innoshima Bridge

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  • Innoshima Bridge

    9Innoshima Bridge

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The Innoshima Bridge links Mukaishima Island with Innoshima Island. You’ll see the Bridge in the distance across the tangerine orchards that run on either side of the road to the water’s edge in the town of Innoshima. There are settlements along the waterfront around the bridge. When you approach the settlement, you will notice the Innoshima Bridge if you look up. For a moment during sunset, the Innoshima Bridge appears lit up from behind by the red dusk sky and the scenic natural beauty is evident in the silhouette of the island when the sun goes down. Nature and technology come together for a winsome finale.

Innoshima Island

Innoshima Island
  • A View of Seto Inland Sea from a Top of a Mountain in Innoshima

    10A View of Seto Inland Sea from a Top of a Mountain in Innoshima

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  • Innoshima, a View from Habu Port

    11Innoshima, a View from Habu Port

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  • Yuge Island, Tsuboki Island and Ikina Island from Habu Town in Innoshima

    12Yuge Island, Tsuboki Island and Ikina Island from Habu Town in Innoshima

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Innoshima City was unique in terms of organization among the hundreds of islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The city was long known as a medieval navy base and the shipbuilding industry flourished. The evening view of the Innoshima Bridge linking Mukaishima Island is a sight to behold. The sun at its apex is a large golden orb that sprinkles a fine gold dust over the sea surface. It paints the sky and the sea in radiant vermilion and orange while it is on the wane.

Ikuchi Bridge

Ikuchi Bridge
  • Ikuchi Bridge and Right Hand Side

    13Ikuchi Bridge and Right Hand Side

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  • Ikuchi Bridge, from Ikuchi Island to Innoshima, a View from Sunoe

    14Ikuchi Bridge, from Ikuchi Island to Innoshima, a View from Sunoe

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The Ikuchi Bridge links Innoshima Island with Ikuchi Island.
In the past, getting to Innoshima Island by ferry took some time, but thanks to the bridge, it now takes no time at all. The towering bridge piers of the Tatara Bridge and the Ikuchi Bridge have distinctive shapes. Though the angles of diagonally stretched cables and the heights of bridge piers are derived from cold calculation in proportion to the lengths of the bridges, visually this appears as a kind of artificial spontaneity with its own beauty.

Ikuchi Island

Ikuchi Island
  • The Thirteen-story Pagoda in Komyobo Temple in Ikuchi Island, Kamakura Era

    15The Thirteen-story Pagoda in Komyobo Temple in Ikuchi Island, Kamakura Era

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  • A View of Ctrus Park Setoda, Hakata Island and Oshima Island

    16A View of Ctrus Park Setoda, Hakata Island and Oshima Island

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  • Kone Island, Sagi Island, Innoshima, Mt. Kojoji and Setoda Town

    17Kone Island, Sagi Island, Innoshima, Mt. Kojoji and Setoda Town

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  • A View of Kosanji Temple from Mt. Kojoji in Setoda Town

    18A View of Kosanji Temple from Mt. Kojoji in Setoda Town

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  • Gion Shrine in Setoda Town

    19Gion Shrine in Setoda Town

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  • The Street Has My Parent’s House in Setoda Town

    24The Street Has My Parent’s House in Setoda Town

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  • Setoda Port

    25Setoda Port

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  • The shore of Setoda Port

    26The shore of Setoda Port

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  • The Stone-lantern of Sumiyoshi Shrine, near Setoda Port

    27The Stone-lantern of Sumiyoshi Shrine, near Setoda Port

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  • A View of Omishima Island from Sunset Beach in Ikuchi Island

    28A View of Omishima Island from Sunset Beach in Ikuchi Island

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  • A View of Omishima Island, the Main Island of Japan and Hyotan Island from Tarumi Pier

    29A View of Omishima Island, the Main Island of Japan and Hyotan Island from Tarumi Pier

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  • Hyotan Island and Omishima Island

    30Hyotan Island and Omishima Island

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Ikuchi Island is the island where I was born and raised. The island is about 28 km in circumference and boasts a rich history and culture. It has long been known as Setoda-cho of Aki Province and the old temples, saltpans and cargo vessel business all bear witness to its past glory. At present, the area is bustling with shipbuilding, citrus cultivation and tourism industries, however the island still retains its scenic beauty.

Three-story Pagoda of Kojoji Temple

Three-story Pagoda of Kojoji Temple
  • Sanmon Gate and a Stone-steps of Kojoji Temple

    20Sanmon Gate and a Stone-steps of Kojoji Temple

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  • Three-story Pagoda of Kojoji Temple in Setoda

    21Three-story Pagoda of Kojoji Temple in Setoda

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  • A View of Omishima Island, Kone Island and Three-story Pagoda of Kojoji Temple on Mt. Kojoji

    22A View of Omishima Island, Kone Island and Three-story Pagoda of Kojoji Temple on Mt. Kojoji

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  • Three-story Pagoda on Mt. Kojoji

    23Three-story Pagoda on Mt. Kojoji

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The three-story pagoda towering over a mountain behind the house where I was born was built in the early Muromachi Period. Ikuchi Islanders are proud of this official national heritage site. The Kobayakawa clan who built the Kojoji Temple on the island might have expressed the importance of Ikuchi Island symbolically. The beautiful pagoda standing firm on the mountaintop can be seen from the prow of a ship entering the Setoda port.

Tatara Bridge

Tatara Bridge
  • Tatara Bridge and Omishima Island from Setoda

    31Tatara Bridge and Omishima Island from Setoda

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  • A View of Tatara Bridge and Omishima Island

    32A View of Tatara Bridge and Omishima Island

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  • A View of Ikuchi Island and Shimanami Kaido from the Top of the Bridge Pier

    33A View of Ikuchi Island and Shimanami Kaido from the Top of the Bridge Pier

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  • Tatara Bridge, from Ikuchi Island to Omishima Island

    34Tatara Bridge, from Ikuchi Island to Omishima Island

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  • Tatara Bridge, between Ikuchi Island and Omishima Island

    35Tatara Bridge, between Ikuchi Island and Omishima Island

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  • Tatara Bridge, from Ikuchi Island

    36Tatara Bridge, from Ikuchi Island

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  • Tatara Bridge, a View of Ikuchi Island

    37Tatara Bridge, a View of Ikuchi Island

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  • Tatara Bridge, from Inokuchi in Omishima Island to Ikuchi Island

    38Tatara Bridge, from Inokuchi in Omishima Island to Ikuchi Island

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The Tatara Bridge became the largest cable-stayed bridge, overtaking the Normandy Bridge in France (as of 1999). The bridge became a new scenic spot the beautiful cable-stayed bridge with two bridge piers linking Ikuchi Island with Omishima Island can be seen with the island in the background.

Omishima Island

Omishima Island
  • Sakari Fishing Port in Kamiura Town, Onishima Island

    39Sakari Fishing Port in Kamiura Town, Onishima Island

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  • Ichi-no-torii Shrine Gate and Miyaura Port in Omishima Island

    40Ichi-no-torii Shrine Gate and Miyaura Port in Omishima Island

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mishima Island is always visible from Ikuchi Island. I would often gaze at Omishima from my parents’ home on Ikuchi Island where I grew up. The appearance of the island changes depending on the weather on the island: whether it is fine, cloudy, or rainy, and whether it is morning, daytime or night time. Sometimes the island was visible in the distance and at other times private residences could be clearly seen. Occasionally only small flickers of light from houses could be seen. In the moonlight the island looked powerful. In the setting sun, it appeared a golden mirage. These are some of the memories of the beautiful views of the Omishima Island I saw when I was growing up.

Oyamazumi Shrine

Oyamazumi Shrine
  • Two-thousand Six-hundred year-old Tree in Oyamazumi Shrine

    41Two-thousand Six-hundred year-old Tree in Oyamazumi Shrine

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  • The Main Sanctuary of Oyamazumi Shrine

    42The Main Sanctuary of Oyamazumi Shrine

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The Oyamazumi Shrine, which stores armor of which 80% is designated as national treasures or cultural assets is a local sea deity of the Seto Inland Sea.
It is said that Minamoto no Yoshitsune dedicated a navy blue money belt to the deity during the Genpei War to pray for a victory and won a victory with help from the local navy. Moreover, it is said that the Kono navy from Omishima Island joined the defense against the Mongolian Invasions of Japan. The Oyamazumi Shrine is a historic shrine with a long history and culture.

Omishima Bridge

Omishima Bridge
  • Omishima Bridge, Omishima Island and Hakata Island

    43Omishima Bridge, Omishima Island and Hakata Island

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  • Omishima Bridge, Hanakuri Seto and Hakata Island

    44Omishima Bridge, Hanakuri Seto and Hakata Island

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The Omishima Bridge links Omishima Island with Hakata Island. Though a bridge of the Shimanami Highway was partly built here, it’s a cinch to cross the bridge when traverse the bridge linking the two islands. When there was no bridge, these two islands were distant though they were adjacent geographically. I now cross the bridge hoping that each island will somehow keep its distinctness even though they have ceased being real islands.

Hakata Island

Hakata Island
  • A View of Shisaka Island and Shikoku Mountains from Hakata Port

    45A View of Shisaka Island and Shikoku Mountains from Hakata Port

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Hakata Island is a little smaller island compared with Ikuchi Island and Omishima Island. However, the shipbuilding industries have flourished here from a long time ago. Steel ships are currently being built on the island, and due to this business it has a lot of contact with the outside. Perhaps for this reason as well, modern and chic shops line the streets. Though it is a small-sized town, the residents have proven themselves to be quite enterprising and are responsive to the latest trends and fashions. The island has a lively atmosphere.

Hakata Oshima Bridge

Hakata Oshima Bridge
  • A View of Hakata Oshima Bridge from Hakata Island

    46A View of Hakata Oshima Bridge from Hakata Island

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  • A View of Hakata Oshima Bridge from Mt. Karei Observation Platform in Hakata Island

    47A View of Hakata Oshima Bridge from Mt. Karei Observation Platform in Hakata Island

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The atmosphere changes completely after crossing the Hakata Oshima Bridge.
The large bridge linking the small island of Hakata and the large island of Oshima can be crossed in a moment. As each island has its own unique lifestyle, they all boast a unique culture as well.
Though the bridge pierces through these islands like a skewer, it is possible that a new culture and history has been given birth to by the bridge.

Oshima Island

Oshima Island
  • A View of Noshima and Hakata Oshima Bridge from Tomoura Pass

    48A View of Noshima and Hakata Oshima Bridge from Tomoura Pass

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  • Minamiura Beach in Yoshiumi Town in Oshima Island

    49Minamiura Beach in Yoshiumi Town in Oshima Island

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Islands along the Shimanami Highway seem so similar if I walk through the islands, but in reality each boasts an original and vibrant culture in terms of the environment and the lifestyle. Though shipbuilding is flourishing on Hakata Island, many of the residents on Oshima Island are involved in agriculture such as citrus cultivation. When you pass through Oshima Island, you can see that most parts of the island are green fields and pastures and there is a noticeable lack of eyesores such as unattractive signboards, etc.

Kurushima Bridges

Kurushima Bridges
  • A View of Kurushima Three-stranded Bridges from Mt. Kirosan in Oshima Island

    50A View of Kurushima Three-stranded Bridges from Mt. Kirosan in Oshima Island

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  • Ishiduchi Mountains and Uzunohana Lighthouse on Umashima Island

    51Ishiduchi Mountains and Uzunohana Lighthouse on Umashima Island

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  • Kurushima Bridges

    52Kurushima Bridges

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  • Kurushima Bridges

    53Kurushima Bridges

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  • A View of Kurushima Bridges from Umashima, Imabari

    54A View of Kurushima Bridges from Umashima, Imabari

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The Kurushima Bridges linking Oshima Island with Imabari are built extending over three small islands. These fantastical bridges look as though they have been built over stepping stones. Ships are informed of the rapid flow of the Kurushima Channel and of the speed of the ocean current. The stark white bridges connecting Oshima Island to Imabari running through green islands over the azure-blue sea seems taken straight from mythology.

Imabari

Imabari
  • Namikata Port in Kurushima Island, Imabari

    55Namikata Port in Kurushima Island, Imabari

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  • A View of Kurushima Bridges from Imabari Port

    56A View of Kurushima Bridges from Imabari Port

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  • A View of the First Bridge, the Second Bridge, the Third Bridge of Kurushima Bridges from Itoyama Park in Imabari

    57A View of the First Bridge, the Second Bridge, the Third Bridge of Kurushima Bridges from Itoyama Park in Imabari

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  • Kurushima Bridges from Itoyama Park

    58Kurushima Bridges from Itoyama Park

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  • Mt. Kirosan in Oshima Island from Umashima, Imabari

    59Mt. Kirosan in Oshima Island from Umashima, Imabari

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  • Imabari Castle

    60Imabari Castle

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Imabari, which is the gateway to the Shimanami Highway on Shikoku side of is an important city in relation to Onomichi City. The castle tower of the Imabari Castle can be seen like being buried among modern buildings lining up along streets and many ships gather at the port. I am hopeful that Imabari will continue to advance while keeping its heritage.

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