The Seto Inland Sea
Japan’s main transportation artery with an abundance of unspoiled natural beauty
Overview of the Seto Inland Sea
The Seto Inland Sea is surrounded by the three islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu in the Japanese archipelago. As Japan’s largest inland sea, it runs approximately 450 kilometers from east to west and anywhere from 15 to 55 kilometers from north to south (depending on the location). Including the coastal areas, it is also called the “Setouchi.” With the lake-like tranquility of the sea’s surface, myriad islands, beautiful stretches of sandy beach dotted with green pines, terraced rice paddies and other beautiful sites, the area’s pleasant view and rich nature are alive. Such Europeans as Philipp Franz von Siebold and Thomas Cook, who came to Japan during the time from the ending of the Edo Period on through the Meiji Period, offered high praise of the area’s beauty, as they kept its memory dear. In 1934, the location centering on the so-called “Bisan Seto” area of the sea, which stretches between Okayama, Hiroshima, and Kagawa Prefectures, was designated as “The Seto Inland Sea National Park,” Japan’s first national park.
The Seto Inland Sea has come to play an important role as a marine traffic route. The area has, since long ago, acted as a major artery for people and materials going back and forth, a route in which cultural elements from the mainland came to be transmitted and which, during the Edo Period, saw the coming and going of shipping vessels. People, material, and information have been exchanged in a fluid manner on the islands and coasts of the sea, and various cultures and traditions have taken shape there. The appeal of the Seto Inland Sea lies in the way that the lives of the people have come to be one with the area’s nature.
On the other hand, large scale industries developed hand-in-hand with rapid economic growth after the 1960s. Along with this economic development came worsening environmental pollution in certain parts of this beautiful place.
Including both the positives and the negatives, the Seto Inland Sea has accumulated much in the way of history and culture.
Setouchi International Art Festival “100-Day Art and Sea Adventure”
The Setouchi International Art Festival will be held in hopes of bringing the vitality back to the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, where the beautiful nature and the people have mingled and become synchronized together. People in the Seto Inland Sea believe that the realization of art created through the collaboration of modern artists, architects, and local residents will bring about new discoveries in the workings of our daily life, attract people from all over the globe, and become an opportunity for local citizens to interact with the world. The Setouchi International Art Festival blends the folk customs, entertainment, festivals, and regional characteristics that have transcended the ages with the art, architecture, and drama that evoke the feeling of the contemporary times. It is a project that conveys the charms of the Seto Inland Sea to the world.