The annual Imabari Tourism Photo Contest has been generating high-quality photos of Imabari and the Shimanami Kaido for many years, drawing talented photographers with its generous prize money. Now the Imabari Tourist Association aims to make the contest more accessible to foreign residents by establishing the ‘Setouchi Photography School’. The first class was held in July as a collaboration with Shikoku Tours. We visited some of the dramatic sights of the Shimanami Kaido and Imabari, honing our photographic skills in a range of challenging situations.

First, we crossed the dramatic Kurushima Straits Bridge by bicycle, photographing the bridge and the islands below. The road markings make for some cool low-angle shots, while the bridge architecture offers some dramatic high-angle opportunities.

 

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Next we bussed to the Mt. Kiro observation platform which affords a dramatic view of the Kurushima Straits and the Seto Inland Sea. It's a popular spot for lovers, who leave padlocks as symbols of their rigid love on the railings. 

 

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Back down at sea-level, we had a lunch of delicious barbequed seafood and a fair quantity of beer. It was very hot, and the beer simply evaporated inside, leaving no trace of intoxication. This is the joy of the Japanese summer!

 

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Bicycles, buses, barbecue, beer, and then boats. This tour is brought to you by the letter B. We got in a big, fast motorboat, and headed out into the wild currents of the Inland Sea to enjoy the views of the big bridge from below. We timed our trip so that the currents were at their wildest, and the whirlpools were beautiful to behold. Photographers, set your cameras appropriately before boarding!

 

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After the cool boat ride, we headed up into the hot mountains to a huge quarry that has provided the granite for many of Japan's iconic buildings, including the National Diet building in Tokyo, and Shinsaibashi Bridge in Osaka. The view into the quarry and out over the sea is nothing if not spectacular.

 

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Our charter bus took us back over the Kurushima Straits bridge to Imabari. The bridges of the Shimanami Kaido are fascinating, whether you cycle or drive across them.

 

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Our last visit was to Imabari Castle. The stone for the walls came from the Oshima quarry that we just visited. The castle grounds are very photogenic, and the view from the keep offers another angle on the now-familiar Kurushima Bridge.

 

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There's so much to photograph in Imabari. Be sure to join us for the amazing Setouchi Photography School 2 in October!