Ieshima island hopping and the freedom of the seas!
The Ieshima Islands are composed of 44 islands in the part of the Inland Sea known as Harima Nada, in southwest Hyogo Prefecture. The islands are approximately 18 kilometers from Himeji and are governed by the city. Only four of the islands are inhabited—Ieshima, Bozejima, Tangajima, and Nishijima—and have a total population of about 6,000. The islands are part of Setonaikai National Park and have served Inland Sea travelers since ancient times as a key spot to wait for favorable winds and tides.
Poems have been written about the picturesque scenery for centuries, appearing in the ancient Japanese poetry anthology, the Man’yoshu. The name “Ieshima”, translated literally as “home island,” derives from a story of Emperor Jinmu, dating back to the 6th century BCE, who was traveling east and got caught in a storm. Taking shelter on the island, he famously remarked, “It is so quiet here it feels like a home.”
The basic mode of transportation around the islands is by boat. The calm inland sea waters make island hopping a scenic treat.
Another treat is the fresh seafood caught locally that can only be enjoyed here. With intricate coastlines, the islands are known throughout Japan for the abundance of seafood caught year round, including sea bream, octopus, and horse mackerel. In particular, everyone awaits the late autumn to winter season and the delicious blue crab (watarigani) from Ieshima and mackerel (saba) from Bozejima.
Traditionally, tourists have visited Ieshima, which has a shrine connected to the ancient poet Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), and Bozejima, with its sad story of the girl Benten. Most inns are concentrated on these two islands. Tangajima, which has changed shapes due to quarrying, is known for its beach and fishing, while visitors to Nishijima can enjoy camping and the outdoors. It takes just 30 minutes to reach the Ieshima Islands from Himeji Port. Please come for a visit!