The Kurushima Straight Boat Tour

I went on my first Kurushima Straight (来島海峡) boat tour this summer!
My parents and my sister drove out to Oshima Island (大島), which is the first exit off Shimanami Kaido (しまなみ海道) from Imabari (今治), to take a boat tour of the Kurushima Straight tidal currents. Kurushima Straight is said to have one of the three most rapid currents in Japan, along with Kanmon Straight (関門海峡) and Naruto Straight (鳴門海峡). I’ve never been to either of them so I couldn’t really compare…but the boat ride was fun!
As Kurushima Straight is located in the middle of Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海) and leads to both Kyushu and Kansai areas, it is considered an important international route for many ships and vessels. But in the olden days, it was also considered a very difficult place to navigate, due to the narrow routes and the unpredictable rapid currents. The tour guide mentioned that the speed of the current whirlpools at times exceeded 10 knots (not that I know what that means…I’m guessing very fast).
The boat tour took us under Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge (来島海峡大橋), which is part of Shimanami Kaido, and towards the Kurushima Straight tidal currents. We also navigated around islands such as Kojima (小島) and Kurushima (来島), before going by Hashihama Port (波止浜港) to see various ships that are docked there.
I had a great time on the tour, especially with the wind blowing in my hair. It felt great and the waves and tidal currents made for a thrilling boat ride. If you’re ever in the area, I would definitely recommend this 40 minute boat tour to learn about the history and experience the tidal currents!
While we were on Oshima, we also stopped by the Imabari City Murakami Suigun Museum, which is all about the pirates that roamed and guarded the Seto Inland Sea. We also stopped by a roadside station to try the local soft serve and mikan juice. So so good!
Who knew Oshima could be so much fun?
Here are some photos:
Our tickets for the Kurushima Straight tidal current boat tour.
Big smiles all around…even though we had to wear orange life jackets!
Some parts of the straight are so calm you’d never know…
 
The anchorage (left photo) is a 150,000 block of concrete that secures the bridge cables. 
Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge is the first bridge consisting of three successive suspension bridges in the world.
Everyone’s eyes were glued to the large current whirlpools.
Not only did we see the whirlpool but we felt the pull on the boat as well.
My first time seeing the bridge from underneath!
Many of the smaller islands still have a small community of people living there.
Hashihama Port is home to Imabari Shipbuilding, Japan’s largest ship building company.
The water looks so peaceful from here.
There were many smaller boats out and about as well.
We had a great time on the boat tour!
This was the boat that took us around the Kurushima Straight.
Mikan and lemon soft serve and ponkan juice! Yum!
My ticket to Imabari City Murakamisuigun Museum
Ships with the “上” flag were able to pass through the straight safely back in the day.
I’ve discovered that Imabari may be a small city but it is rich with history.
Bari-san and his lady dressed up to promote Imabari!
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21 thoughts on “The Kurushima Straight Boat Tour”

  1. Beautiful photos! It looks like you guys had a great time! And awesome weather too 😉

    I saw Naruto Strait during a road trip to Shikoku, and I remember being blown away by how powerful the current was. Of course, I couldn't see it close-up and had to stick with just watching from above on the bridge because I knew I'd get sick on the boat!

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  2. Thanks Miwa. It was actually raining on our way there but some how the sky cleared up when we got on the boat! Yay!

    I was worried about getting seasick, too. But the boat is really fast, like a jet boat, and cruises over the waves that I didn't have a moment of sickness. And I'm the one who got sick on a yacht in Lake Michigan, so I hope you get a chance to take a boat ride next time you're in Shikoku! 😉

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  3. We sure did have fun out there, whooping as the boat twirled with the current whirlpool! I miss the sea when I'm in Tokyo (we have the Tokyo Bay but it's not as pretty!).

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  4. Ru, have you ever heard of “canyon-ing?” I hear it's like whitewater rafting, except without the raft. My friend said it's a lot of fun and I've been curious about it ever since.

    PS: Do we do whitewater rafting in Japan?

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  5. 10 knots = 18.5 kph (Thanks Google 😉 )

    I realize I'll have to try to go here next year, or whenever I find time to go on the Shimanamikaido.

    I have been on the Naruto Straight ferry tour. That was fun. I want to try this but the friend I'm going on the bicycle trip with is afraid of water… …

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  6. Wow you have such beautiful photos from your trip! So lucky you didn't get seasick, I usually do on open water. Your pictures made me want to go swimming!

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  7. I've always wanted to do the traditional boat ride down the river in Nagatoro (I think it's called?)…that's near Okutama, right? Need to look into that next summer.

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  8. Oh well, if you've been on the one in Naruto…I think it's pretty similar. Is your friend afraid to get into the water? Or even to go near it? Everyone will have life jackets on, if that helps.

    I think a cycling bit on the Shimanamikaido will be just as fun. They've been promoting cycling in Imabari lately and they have regular cycling races on the bridge that actually includes a boat tour after you finish the race 😉

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  9. Hi Stacy, thank you for your comment! The little islands in the Seto Inland Sea here often have sandy beaches for people to swim in. I love swimming here, too. Although not near the strait as I'm not a very strong swimmer 😉

    PS: If it helps, I get incredibly sea sick on yachts and ferries, but this boat had a lot of speed so I didn't get sea sick at all! So maybe you won't either?

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  10. I just checked Nagatoro and it said Saitama… Looks like a nice place to go rafting though. I might want to try it out in a kayak instead of the rubber rafts. I prefer to be in control of myself. 😉

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  11. My friend is really afraid of water. We were on a much bigger boat than the one you went on. It was a powerful boat with a below deck and above deck cabin. Below deck, they had windows so you could see the jellyfish and some fish in the sea. Once we go to the whirlpools, we got out. My friend was too afraid to get out at first but finally went out.

    When he did go out, he stayed in the back and always kept 1 hand on the railing to film the whirlpools. That small boat you were on might be too scary for him…

    We did take the small speed boats during the Setouchi Art Festival. He was okay on those but not perfect. He did get seasick inside one.

    Cycling race? Over just 1 bridge? I want to go over ALL of them. 😉

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  12. Whitewater rafting without the raft? I rather like that. #I'mfromAfrica. 😀

    Okutama's “whitewater rafting” is, umm, you might as well play with a rubber duck in an onsen. Same amount of excitement.

    PS: It's not that difficult to make Dru loose control. You just need to float, or rather drown, him in beer. :p

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  13. Actually Nagatoro doesn't use kayaks but those thin Japanese wooden boats. Not sure how much control you'll have there.

    I'm quite curious about this body rafting, too. Will let you know once I look into it.

    PS: If you drown Dru in beer, I feel like that he's still in control of the situation because I likes beer and that's what he wants?

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  14. Wow, that phobia of water is real. Your friend must have a hard time living in Japan, as we are surrounded by water. Poor guy.

    Don't worry, the races have different courses. My great-aunt cycled all the way to Onomichi in the last race. But I think she said it still included a boat tour on the way back. (This one maybe? http://cycling-shimanami.jp/english/)

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  15. Yup, his phobia is real. We are surrounded by water, but it is different. Since we are on “land”, rather far enough from the coast, we are okay. I'm actually surprised he isn't scared of showers. 😉

    Thanks for the link. I'll try to take a look at it. I might actually do it next year. My brother is planning a trip next year and it might be a good adventure. It is either that or going to Kanazawa to meet a friend who moved there this year. Still deciding.

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