Japan’s rural travel gem
Are you searching for an authentic and off-the-beaten-path travel destination in Japan? Look no further than the Sadamisaki Peninsula (佐田岬半島) in Ehime prefecture. This place is a scenic, remote gem that remains unknown by many tourists. Here are some highlights, plus a one-day and two-day itinerary, allowing you to experience the rare beauty and rich culture of this unique region.
The Sadamisaki Peninsula, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku
The Sadamisaki Peninsula is a captivating area located in the westernmost part of Shikoku Island in Ehime Prefecture, Japan. This peninsula was condensed in 2006 from three towns into one municipality called Ikata, stretching approximately 25 miles (45 km). It follows a straight line from near Yawatahama Port, extending westward.
Separating the Seto Inland Sea to the north from the Uwa Sea to the south, the Sadamisaki Peninsula offers a unique blend of natural beauty and breathtaking coastal landscapes.
At its tip lies Cape Sada, a national park renowned for its scenic splendor, while the surrounding area boasts the Uwa Sea National Park.
Discover the mesmerizing Sadamisaki “Melody Line” on Route 197, adorned with cherry blossom trees, adding a touch of magic during springtime. There are three locations along this main highway where a musical road has been installed, providing visitors with moments of a whimsical tune as they drive. Prepare to embark on an unforgettable journey where mountains meet the ocean, creating an idyllic destination that captivates visitors.
Ehime prefecture, located in the Shikoku region of Japan, is often overlooked by travelers due to its less-frequented status and absence from the Shikoku pilgrimage route. However, it is precisely this lack of tourist crowds that make the Sadamisaki Peninsula an enticing choice for those seeking authentic experiences. If you’re interested in immersing yourself in the diverse regional flavors and personalities of Japan, this is the place to be.
Getting to the Sadamisaki Peninsula
There are a few transportation options to reach the Peninsula. If you prefer air travel, you can book a flight to Matsuyama Airport, the region’s closest airport. From there, you can take a connecting train from Matsuyama to Yawatahama Station. Plan ahead to reserve a car to pick up once you arrive at Yawatahama Station. Alternatively, if you opt for a direct journey by ferry, you can take a ferry directly from Beppu to Yawatahama Port or Oita to Misaki Port. Misaki Port offers e-bike rentals.
Sadamisaki Peninsula sightseeing highlights
- Cape Sada Lighthouse: Marvel at the iconic Sadamisaki Lighthouse, Japan’s westernmost lighthouse, offering panoramic vistas of the sea and Kyushu in the distance. The lighthouse is about a 20-minute hike from the parking lot, with an additional observatory, photo spot, abandoned salt farm and prewar historic remnants to be found.
- Sadamisaki Melody Line: Drive along Route 197, famously known as the Sadamisaki “Melody Line,” and marvel at the cherry blossom trees that scatter the mountainside. Take leisurely drives along the coastal roads of the peninsula, relishing the scenic views of the surrounding seascape and mountains dripping with mandarin oranges.
- Natori Stone Wall: On a slope overlooking the Uwa Sea, there is a skillfully piled ishigaki stone wall, which is also called “the stone wall in the sky.” It holds tiny painted rocks left by locals and visitors. Inaccessible by cars, this is a scenic walk in a unique area characterized by oddly luxurious ocean views and empty houses.
- Densozen-dera Temple: Lovely old temple with monthly zazen (Japanese guided meditation) sessions. Sit in lotus position, chant with the group, and have an authentic zen Buddhist experience when the Priest beats you with a keisaku. Yes, you read that right.
- Fisherman Adventure Boat Tours: Departing from Misaki port, the boat tours scenic points and includes local seafood tasting.
- Seto Kazenooka Park: Striking panoramic views of the windmills down the peninsula. Picnic tables and toilet building on-site.
- Michi-no-Eki (Yawatahama Roadside Station): If you come here via the Ferry to Yawatahama Port, stop by the roadside station. If the timing is right, you can see a bustling fresh fish market with local catches, souvenirs, and intensely buttery cremia ice cream from the cafe chouchou.
- Kamegaike Onsen: Newly rebuilt facilities. Affordable hot spring with sauna.
- Red Wing Park: Named after Ikata town’s sister city, Red Wing (in rural Minnesota, USA), this park has a steep multi-level roller slide down the side of the mountain. BYO cardboard slide to go super fast, but be careful.
- Garanyama Mountain: the highest mountain on the Sadamisaki Peninsula (413.6 m above sea level) the mountains of Kyushu and Shikoku can be seen from it’s observatory. The mountain also has a secret and magical Buddha cave.
- Dandan roadside station: Huge variety of locally grown mikan mandarin oranges and sweet potatoes. The small window sells sweet potato “steak” fries and sweet potato ice cream, plus some extras.
- Moon Beach: Camping and BBQ area with a noteworthy crescent moon shape coast. Shop at the nearby Hana Hana for seafood, and bring your own grill. Toilet building on-site.
- Suga Park: A small park with a shrine, abandoned pool, and tiny quaint lighthouse in the Mitsukue neighborhood. Shop at the nearby Kawada neighborhood grocery store for picnic food items. There is a building with toilets and running water in the park.
- Coming soon: a new construction Folk Museum in the Seto area, overlooking both the ocean and sea.
Local food specialties
- Jakoten: Minced, then fried fish patty
- Mikan: Mandarin oranges
- Shirasu (whitebait): Immature fish, raw or boiled
- Satsumaimo: Sweet potatoes
- Seafood: Sea bream, sea urchin, lobster, and more from local fishermen
2-Day (Weekend) Sample Itinerary
Star-gazing at Moon Beach
First Morning Activity
Second Morning Activity
Lounge at the park area near the ferry port, slowly watch the boats arrive
Shirasu rice bowl at the Whitebait restaurant, Sadamisaki Hana Hana
Sadamisaki Peninsula accommodation options
Enjoy an affordable and comfortable stay at this renovated Showa-era kominka guesthouse in the quaint Futanazu neighborhood. The guesthouse has a noteworthy mosaic tile bath. The guesthouse also acts as a community club house, hosting seasonal events such as a music festival, local foods for take-out, and hinamatsuri (doll festival). Pick up sweets from the local confectionary. (google maps)
Experience the slow life of Ehime at this unique lodging option. Extremely affordable for large groups. This cabin-style accommodation overlooks the ocean. （google maps)
Indulge in traditional Japanese hospitality at a ryokan in the Misaki area, providing a genuine cultural experience complete with seafood and baths. The fish is so fresh that one guest noted, “The seafood is straight from the boat.” (google maps)
The Sadamisaki Peninsula in Shikoku, Japan, is a hidden gem too often missed by foreign tourists. By following these one-day or two-day itineraries, you can immerse yourself in the authentic seaside landscapes, savor delicious regional cuisine, and experience the tranquility of the countryside.
With fewer tourists and a lack of catering specifically to foreign visitors, Ehime offers a genuine and unfiltered Japanese experience.
Whether you choose to explore for a day or extend your visit, the Sadamisaki Peninsula promises to leave you with lasting memories of a truly unique Japan travel destination.
Embrace the opportunity to discover the real Japan and create memories that will last a lifetime. Until next time, happy travels!