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The Uwakai Sea

The Uwakai Sea is part of Japan’s Inland Sea. It lies between western Shikoku and Kyushu, joining the Seto Inland Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The sea has a rugged coastline, offering beautiful vistas of peninsulas and islands.

The Uwakai Sea

The Uwakai Sea is part of Japan’s Inland Sea. It lies between western Shikoku and Kyushu, joining the Seto Inland Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The sea has a rugged coastline, offering beautiful vistas of peninsulas and islands. The highly indented coastline also makes it ideal for aquaculture. Pearl oysters have been cultured here for decades, and recently yellowtail and sea bream have been farmed here successfully. Pearl products are available at many places around the Uwakai, but particularly in the small city of Uwajima. The seafood harvested in the bays and inlets is served up in the charming little eateries in the ports.

Fish-farming-Uwakai
Fish farming in the Uwakai Sea
Yusumizugaura-terraced-fields
Yusumizugaura Terraced Fields

Since the land rises precipitously from the sea, agriculture is a challenge. Over several centuries, the farmers of the region have built dramatic, steeply terraced fields created with elaborate dry stone walls. These are fascinating to visit, whether from the land or from the sea.

Fujiwara-no-Sumitomo-pirate
Fujiwara no Sumitomo, pirate

In the Heian period, the provincial official Fujiwara no Sumitomo was appointed as aide to the governor of Iyo Province, today’s Ehime, with the task of subjugating the pirates of the region. But he turned pirate himself, establishing a domain for himself between 936 and 941 based on Hiburijima Island in the Uwakai. He levied taxes on vessels traveling to the capital in Kyoto, and staged raids up and down the Inland Sea, evening threatening Kyoto itself. He was eventually defeated and is thought to have died in prison. There’s a monument to him on Hiburijima Island.

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