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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.

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しまなみ海道五十三次 ポイントマップ
1, 2
千光寺 鐘楼から尾道と大橋を展望

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

尾道 千光寺山への道 天寧寺の塔

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

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.

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Onomichi Bridge
3, 4
尾道 新大橋を天寧寺より遠望

3A View of Onomichi Bridge from Ten’neiji Temple

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

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.

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5, 6
向島 立花地区 妙見山

5Mukaishima, Tachibana Area, Mt. Myouken

向島 立花地区 弓削島、豊島、魚島を遠望

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

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.

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Innoshima Bridge
7, 8, 9
向島より 因島を望む 因島大橋

7A View of Innoshima and Innoshima Bridge from Mukaishima


8Innoshima Bridge


9Innoshima Bridge

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.

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10, 11, 12
因島 山頂より 内海遠望

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

因島 土生港から遠望

11Innoshima, a View from Habu Port

因島 土生町から遠望 弓削島 坪木島 生名島

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

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.

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Ikuchi Bridge
13, 14
生口橋 因島 右手

13Ikuchi Bridge and Right Hand Side

生口橋 生口島より因島へ洲の江より

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

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.

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Ikuchi Island
15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 24,
25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
生口島 光明坊十三重石塔 鎌倉時代

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

シトラスパーク瀬戸田 伯方島 大島を望む

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


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

瀬戸田町 向上寺山より 耕三寺遠望 

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

瀬戸田町 祇園神社

19Gion Shrine in Setoda Town

瀬戸田町 私の実家の ある通り

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


25Setoda Port

瀬戸田港 海岸

26The shore of Setoda Port

瀬戸田港隣 住吉神社 石灯籠

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

サンセットビーチ 生口島より 大三島を望む

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

垂水桟橋から 大三島、本土、瓢箪島を望む

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


30Hyotan Island and Omishima Island

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.

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Three-story Pagoda of
Kojoji Temple
20, 21,
22, 23
向上寺 山門入口と石段

20Sanmon Gate and a Stone-steps of Kojoji Temple

瀬戸田 向上寺三重塔

21Three-story Pagoda of Kojoji Temple in Setoda

向上寺三重塔 向上寺山より大三島・高根島を眺望

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

向上寺山 三重塔

23Three-story Pagoda on Mt. Kojoji

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.

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Tatara Bridge
瀬戸田 多々羅大橋 大三島を望む

31Tatara Bridge and Omishima Island from Setoda


32A View of Tatara Bridge and Omishima Island


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

多々羅大橋 生口島から大三島

34Tatara Bridge, from Ikuchi Island to Omishima Island

多々羅大橋 生口島と大三島を結ぶ

35Tatara Bridge, between Ikuchi Island and Omishima Island

多々羅大橋 生口島

36Tatara Bridge, from Ikuchi Island

多々羅大橋 生口島を望む

37Tatara Bridge, a View of Ikuchi Island

大三島 井口より生口島への多々羅大橋

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

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.

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Omishima Island
39, 40
大三島 上浦町 盛漁港

39Sakari Fishing Port in Kamiura Town, Onishima Island

大三島 宮浦港 一の鳥居

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

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.

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Oyamazumi Shrine
41, 42
大山祇神社 樹齢二千六百年

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

大山祇神社 本殿 拝殿

42The Main Sanctuary of Oyamazumi Shrine

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.

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Omishima Bridge
43, 44
大三島橋 大三島と伯方島

43Omishima Bridge, Omishima Island and Hakata Island

大三島橋 鼻栗瀬戸 伯方島

44Omishima Bridge, Hanakuri Seto and Hakata Island

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.

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Hakata Island
伯方港 四阪島と四国山系を遠望

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

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.

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Hakata & Oshima Bridge
46, 47
伯方島 伯方大島大橋

46A View of Hakata Oshima Bridge from Hakata Island

カレイ山展望公園 伯方大島大橋 伯方島

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

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.

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48, 49
友浦峠から 能島 伯方 大島大橋を遠望

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

大島 吉海町 南浦海岸

49Minamiura Beach in Yoshiumi Town in Oshima Island

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.

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Kurushima Bridges

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


51Ishiduchi Mountains and Uzunohana Lighthouse on Umashima Island


52Kurushima Bridges


53Kurushima Bridges

来島大橋 馬島 今治

54A View of Kurushima Bridges from Umashima, Imabari

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.

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55Namikata Port in Kurushima Island, Imabari

今治港から 来島大橋を眺望

56A View of Kurushima Bridges from Imabari Port

来島第一、第二、第三大橋 今治 糸山公園より

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

来島大橋 糸山公園

58Kurushima Bridges from Itoyama Park

大島亀老山 馬島 今治より

59Mt. Kirosan in Oshima Island from Umashima, Imabari


60Imabari Castle

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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平山郁夫美術館 Hirayama Ikuo Museum Of Art
Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art

200-2, Setodacho Sawa, Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima, 722-2413, Japan
TEL.+81-845-27-3800 FAX.+81-845-27-3801

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