The Chugoku-Shikoku Region is a collective term combining the Chugoku and Shikoku areas. The former is the western portion of Honshu, the main island of Japan, and it consists of five prefectures: Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama, Tottori, and Shimane. The latter is the smallest of the four large islands of Japan and consists of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima. The waters sandwiched between these two lands are called the Seto Inland Sea.
The Chugoku Mountains stretch from east to west throughout the most of the Chugoku area. These are generally low and gently sloping mountains, with heights of 1,000m to 1,300m. There are many plateaus on the hillsides, which are often utilized as a pasture for dairy/beef cattle.
On the other hand, the Shikoku Mountains, which occupy a large portion of the Shikoku Island, are a succession of steep peaks and deep ravines. Many of the peaks reach nearly 2,000m and the highest one is Mt. Ishizuchi in Ehime Prefecture, which has a height of 1,982m.
These two big mountain ranges often extend as close as the seashore, and this is why, in the Chugoku-Shikoku Region, the total percentage of flat lands is small, compared to the other six Regions.
The Seto Inland Sea contains about 3000 small islands and has been known for its scenic beauty for centuries. In 1934, the sea and its surrounding areas became one of the first national parks in the country when they were designated as the Setonaikai National Park.
In the Edo period (1603 -1867), this sea played an important role as a sea route, as the rice and marine products harvested in the north countries of Tohoku and Hokkaido were shipped to Osaka and Kyoto via the Seto Inland Sea. Small towns like Tomonoura in the present-day Hiroshima Prefecture and Shimotsui in present-day Okayama Prefecture developed as the port towns for these ships. And when we visit these towns today and see their old, narrow streets, we can still get a sense of their past glories.
Photographs: properties of Unfamiliar Japan Tours.com