Innoshima, Japan | Mystic Mountain Temple on Shirataki-san

innoshima shiarataki shrine buddhas mukoujima

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Taking a Break from Cycling

For our next day on Innoshima we decided at breakfast that we would take a break from cycling the Shimanami Kaido, do some sight seeing, followed by a swim on one of the beaches or back in the outdoor swimming pool.


As a first objective for our tour we drove up some steep winding slopes to the parking lot near the top of Shirataki-san 白滝山 五百羅漢 and to climb to the mystic mountain temple at its top. When I consider that some people cycle this road it makes me break out in a sweat just thinking about it as it is a long twisty route up.

innoshima shiarataki road sign steep hill

innoshima shiarataki temple buddha

innoshima shiarataki shrine path fern

innoshima shiarataki shrine office

innoshima shiarataki shrine bell

Climbing Mount Shirataki-San

We went on to climb to climb for about 20 minutes to the top of Mount Shirataki-san in the excruciating heat, humidity and with the sun glaring down on us. There was barely a tree that could have provided us with shade. Ascending higher we started to get glimpses of the view, which kept us moving on. At last we turned a corner and saw the entrance to the shrine.

innoshima shiarataki shrine seto inland sea view

innoshima shiarataki shrine rock view

innoshima shiarataki shrine view express way

The Glistening Seto Inland Sea

There was no one else around and we rested for a short while taking pictures of the villages and the islands in the glistening Seto Inland Sea against the perfect blue sky. If we hadn’t known before we might have thought that the shrine was everything to see but we saw some Buddha statues and ventured further on, awed by the sheer vastness of the area leading to the mountaintop.

innoshima shiarataki shrine buddha statues

innoshima shiarataki shrine buddhas close up

innoshima shiarataki shrine buddha statue

Hundreds of Stone Buddhas

There were hundreds of stone-carved Buddhas lined next to each other along the path. In total we could see about 700 Buddha (if you believe the signs) statues, all carved in 1830 by one man over the lost love of his life and hauled on his back to the top. No mean feat!

innoshima shiarataki shrine bell mountain top

innoshima shiarataki shrine buddhas mukoujima

innoshima shiarataki shrine buddhas galore

innoshima shiarataki shrine row of buddhas

innoshima shiarataki shrine scenery

Viewing Platform

Finally we reached the topmost part of Shiratakisan with the 360-degree viewing platform at 227 meters high. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful, no words can describe such beauty and I think I can say that I had never seen anything else like this before.

innoshima shiarataki shrine mysyic place

innoshima shiarataki shrine close up buddha

innoshima shiarataki shrine vanessa

Outdoor Swimming Pool

It was time to leave this mystical place and move on if we wanted to go for a swim and make our way over to Setoda where we would stay the next two nights. Jerome wanted to go back to the swimming pool at Shiranamai Beach with curly slides. We didn’t mind as we had a lot of fun too going down the waterslides. Again the pool was busy with local families and there were lots of children queuing to go down the two slides. In japan everybody seems to be wearing a long sleeve top or UV vest over their swimsuits and trunks, more to protect themselves from the sun than any other reasons. It is strange to still consider this fashion, as I would have thought that the younger generations like to show off a tan too, like us westerners. Better safe than sorry and we always used high factory suntan cream instead throughout our trip.

Innoshima outdoor pool guests

innoshima outdoor pool bench

innoshima outdoor pool slide

innoshima outdoor pool kakigori shaved ice

Kakigori as a Treat

After about an hour going down the slides we bought some hot udon from the kiosk in the pool, followed by kakigori, shaved ice, with sticky sweet mango syrup as a treat.

innoshima outdoor swimmingpool changing room

innoshima outdoor pool curtain

Imaginative Playground

Before we went back to the car, I wanted to take pictures of the weird looking dinosaur and the imaginative playground rides.

innoshima park brontosaurus

innoshima park dinosaur

innoshima park whale slide

innoshima park playground birds

innoshima park penguin playground

innoshima park playground ride

Next up Setoda Island

The day exploring the mystic temple at Shirataki-san followed by a swim in the local outdoor pool was the ideal interruption to cycling the Shimanami Kaido. The following day we would discover Ikuchi-jima, another island en route to Shikoku.

Where to Stay on Your Tour of the Shimanami Kaido:

Onomichi: The uber cool U2 Hotel Cycle, even Paul Smith stayed there…

Innoshima: Hotel Innoshima somewhat dated but a truly authentic experience and very helpful staff offering amazing views

Ikujijima: Tsutsui, a lovely, modern ryokan in the heart of Setoda

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