Mitarai - Hiroshima's Best Kept Secret

The historic island town of Mitarai in Kure

Connected by a set of scenic bridges to the mainland, the historic island town of Mitarai sits on the eastern outcrop of Osaki Shimojima Island in the Seto Inland Sea.

The island is home to the much-coveted Ocho Mikan - a popular brand of orange only produced on this island. The island's loudspeakers still chime at 6am for the aging farmers to struggle up to their orchards. Bags of sweet satsumas that would fetch a handsome price in most grocery stores sit on unattended tables dotted around Mitarai and go for a song.

It feels like space and time separate Mitarai from the frantic pace of modern Japan. You would be forgiven for thinking this slow life had existed here for centuries. In fact, during its heyday, Mitarai was the regional hub for entertainment and trade.

The town developed with domestic trade routes in the Edo Period. At the time, ships needed to sale with the tide and the wind. Conveniently located on the sea route to and from Osaka, Mitarai became a favorable spot to drop anchor.

The ships in Mitarai were re-stocked with water and provisions, while the town provided everything from theaters, shops, sento baths, and teahouses to cater to the needs of their temporary guests. At one time, Mitarai's main teahouse Wakaebisuya housed 100 resident geisha.

As time passed, Mitarai gradually became more of a quiet backwater than a bustling port town. This quiet existence continued until government inspectors came to review the damage after a typhoon in 1991, only to discover Mitarai's abundance of well-preserved Edo period buildings and streets. The town was quickly designated a historical preservation site - one of only three in Hiroshima Prefecture.

This charming Edo period town is definitely worth a visit. A very worth detour from Hiroshima's other well-known sights. Head to the island in autumn, winter, and spring to sample the delicious citrus.

This is a quick video I made to introduce Mitarai. Please feel free to share it on facebook!

Tom Miyagawa Coulton


Tom Miyagawa image

Tom Miyagawa

United Kingdom

You might also like

Hidden gems in Hiroshima and Okayama Prefectures images

Hidden gems in Hiroshima and Okayama Prefectures

Ushimado seaside town, Setouchi City, Okayama“Setonaikai is the Japanese Inland Sea and Setouchi City in Okayama Prefecture faces this beautiful part of the coast in West Japan. When you visit Hi…

DeepJapan image


Hiroshima's Botanical Gardens images

Hiroshima's Botanical Gardens

A visit to Hiroshima city in Spring or Summer should include a stop by the Botanical Gardens in Saiki-ku, only a 30 minute drive from Hiroshima city center or a 40 minute bus ride from the bus center…

jjwalsh image


Japan travel destinations outside the big cities images

Japan travel destinations outside the big cities

Okayama - Kurashiki"This area is well known throughout Japan for having refurbished original 'kura' warehouses in the old merchant district of the city. The district was not destroyed by bombing …

DeepJapan image


Hyogo and Hiroshima Prefecture - Western Japan travel from Osaka images

Hyogo and Hiroshima Prefecture - Western Japan travel from Osaka

Visit Himeji Castle“Often said to be Japan's best example of a complete fortress castle, Himeji Castle is a picturesque beauty, sitting atop a hill in Hyogo Prefecture. It is often referred to as…

DeepJapan image


Miyajima- Hiroshima prefecture images

Miyajima- Hiroshima prefecture

Miyajima scenery well-known from the guide book or typical image of Japan.Although it's very famous scenery, many people don't know it's in the Hiroshima prefecture.Miyajima was build 9century an…

yukorose image


Hitachino Nest Beer images

Hitachino Nest Beer

Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki prefecture has been making Hitachino Nest Beer since 1996. They offer over ten different kinds of beer including Amber Ale, Espresso Stout, Pale Ale, Weizen, and Japanese Cl…

Nate image