Samurai era, Japanese gourmet food such as sushi... There are always various reasons for people to like Japan, and Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, a place that will satisfy any kind of people who like Japan is no exception! Shimonoseki is a city where famous battles that remain in Japanese history took place, a foodie town with the abundant yet delicious seafood, and a famous cherry blossom viewing spot. Sounds great already right?

Where is Yamaguchi Prefecture's Shimonoseki City?

Where is Yamaguchi Prefecture's Shimonoseki City?

Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, is a city located in the westernmost part of Honshu. With a population of about 250,000 that is larger than that of Yamaguchi City where the prefectural office is located, it is the largest city in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Shimonoseki City borders the sea in three directions, and has long been an important base for maritime transportation connecting Japan and the Asian continent. Since the opening of Shimonoseki Port in 1864, it has long prospered as a trading city.

At the cape called "Bishanohana" (毘沙ノ鼻) in Shimonoseki City, a monument is built to indicate that it is the westernmost part of Honshu. From the observation space, you can see the magnificent Sea of Japan.

JR Shimonoseki Station

  • Address: 4-3-18 Takezakicho, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
  • Access:
    • About 5 hours from Tokyo: From Tokyo Station, take the Sanyo Shinkansen to Kokura Station. From there, take the JR Kagoshima Main Line to Shimonoseki Station.
    • About 2 hours and 20 minutes from Osaka: From Shin-Osaka Station, take the Sanyo Shinkansen to Kokura Station. From there, take the JR Kagoshima Main Line to Shimonoseki Station.

Cape Bishanohana

  • Address: Yoshimo Misaki, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
  • Access: Approximately 30 minutes by car from JR Shimonoseki Station

Shimonoseki is the place where the historical battles took place

Shimonoseki is known as the location for many battles in Japanese history. Here are two famous battles that took place in Shimonoseki.

1. The Battle of Dannoura (1185)

Shimonoseki is the place where the historical battles took place
Image credit: Shimonoseki City

When talking about the battle that took place in Shimonoseki, it has to be the "Battle of Dannoura" (壇ノ浦の戦い) at the end of the Heian period (1185 AD). Dannoura is the old name for the area where Shimonoseki City is located. The Battle of Dannoura was a battle between two samurai groups, "Taira Clan" (平氏 / Heishi) and "Minamoto Clan" (源氏 / Genji) who had influential power at the time. As a result of Minamoto Clan's victory over Taira Clan in this battle, the "Kamakura period", a period when Minamoto Clan ruled over Japan, began. It was the battle that brought about a major shift in Japanese history, from the Heian period, when aristocrats were in charge of politics, to the Kamakura period, when samurai were in charge of politics... And such battle took place here in Shimonoseki.

Nowadays, a statue is modeled after Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源義経), who played influential part in the battle, at the place where the Battle of Dannoura took place, "The Site of the Battle of Dannoura" (壇ノ浦古戦場跡 / Dannoura Kosenjoato), 

The Site of the Battle of Dannoura

  • Address: 1 Mimosusogawa-cho, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
  • Access: Approximately 15 minutes by bus from JR Shimonoseki Station

2. The Duel at Ganryujima (1612)

Shimonoseki is the place where the historical battles took place
Image credit: Shimonoseki City

The stage of the second famous battle is the island of Ganryujima (巌流島). Ganryujima is a small uninhabited island with a circumference of about 1.6km, about 10 minutes by boat from the Karato Terminal in Shimonoseki.

Shimonoseki is the place where the historical battles took place
Image credit: Shimonoseki City

The battle took place here in 1612 during the Edo period was the "Duel at Ganryujima" (巌流島の決闘 / Ganryujima no Ketto); a battle between two swordsmen, Musashi Miyamoto and Kojiro Sasaki.

There is an episode about this battle, in which Musashi agreed for a duel with Kojiro, but Musashi was two hours late for the duel. Musashi emerged victorious and it is said that Musashi used a sword made of wood.

The official name of Ganryujima is "Funashima" (船島). The name "Ganryujima" came after Kojiro's swordsmanship "Ganryu" (巌流 - Gan-style swordmanship).

Ganryujima (巌流島)

  • Access: Approximately 10 minutes by boat from Karato Pier in Shimonoseki City (31-2 Nabecho, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture)
  • Ship ticket price (round trip): 900 yen for adults, 450 yen for children

So rare in this world! Undersea road that can be walked across

So rare in this world! Undersea road that can be walked across

Shimonoseki, located in the westernmost part of Honshu, has long been a transportation hub connecting Honshu and Kyushu. In 1958, the "Kanmon Tunnel" (関門トンネル), an undersea tunnel connecting Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture and Moji, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, was completed.

There are two types of tunnels that pass through the seabed of the Kanmon Strait (関門海峡) between Honshu and Kyushu: tunnels dedicated to automobiles and tunnels for pedestrians and bicycles (関門トンネル人道 - Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel). The depth of the Kanmon Pedestrain Tunnel is 55m-60m, and you can take an elevator from the entrance on the ground to the bottom of the sea. The total length of the tunnel is 780m. It takes about 15 minutes on foot.

This tunnel is also a popular tourist attraction, but you can often see locals jogging and walking as well.

So rare in this world! Undersea road that can be walked across

Also, there is a fireworks display held on August 13th every year in the Kanmon Strait. A total of 15,000 fireworks will be launched from two locations, Shimonoseki City, and Moji, Kitakyushu City, on the opposite bank of the Kanmon Strait, to beautifully color the summer night sky.

Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel (関門トンネル人道)

  • Address: 22 Mimosusogawa-cho, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
  • Access: Approximately 10 minutes by bus from JR Shimonoseki Station
  • Available hours: 6:00 am to 10:00 pm
  • Fare: Free for pedestrians, 20 yen for bicycles

Of course there is a famous place for cherry blossom viewing!

A famous place for cherry blossom viewing? Of course there is
Image credit: Shimonoseki City

Many people will want to see the cherry blossoms when they come to Japan, and Shimonoseki is no exception for cherry blossom viewing. In early April, about 350 Somei-Yoshino cherry trees are in full bloom in Senjogahara Park (戦場ヶ原公園).

Since this place is on a hill, you can see the cityscape of Shimonoseki from the observatory too.

Senjogahara Park (戦場ヶ原公園)

  • Address: 5 Ushiroda-cho, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
  • Access: From JR Shimonoseki Station, take the Sanyo Main Line to Hatabu Station, then it is an 18-minute walk from there.

From seafood to novelty food! Shimonoseki gourmet food

Surrounded by sea, Shimonoseki is a treasure trove of seafood such as blowfish. Here are some gourmet foods that you should definitely try in Shimonoseki.

1. Speaking of Shimonoseki, it has to be blowfish cuisine!

From seafood to novelty food! Shimonoseki gourmet food

In Shimonoseki, there is "Haedomari Market" (南風泊市場), the only market in Japan that specializes in blowfish locally called Fugu (フグ). It is said that about 80% of the blowfish hauled in Japan gather in this market. Therefore, there are many restaurants in Shimonoseki where you can eat fresh blowfish. Fugu is in season from late September to February. With many ways to enjoy blowfish such as Sashimi, hot pot dishes, sushi... Please enjoy blowfish cuisine the way you like.

2. The staff are very friendly! Karato Market

Image credit: Shimonoseki City

Karato Market (唐戸市場) is a market where fish and shellfish and agricultural products are gathered. A lot of fish such as blowfish, sea bream and yellowtail are sold here.

The appeal of this market is not just the ability to buy cheap and delicious food. The staff in this market are famous for their friendliness, and shoppers can enjoy talking with them while shopping. It is also a good idea to ask the staff how to cook delicious fish.

From seafood to novelty food! Shimonoseki gourmet food
Image credit: Shimonoseki City

On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, there are food and drink events that offer gourmet food made with seafood, so we recommend visiting on such days. You can buy sushi made with fresh fish at a great price.

Karato Market (唐戸市場)

  • Address: 5-50 Karatocho, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
  • Access: 10 minutes by bus from JR Shimonoseki Station
  • Business hours:
    • Mondays to Satyrdays: 5:00 am to 3:00 pm
    • Sundays and public holidays: 8:00 am to 3:00 pm
  • Food and drink events:
    • Fridays and Saturdays: 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
    • Sundays and public holidays: 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

3. Shimonoseki's local gourmet "Kawara soba"

From seafood to novelty food! Shimonoseki gourmet food
Image credit: Shimonoseki City

It's not just seafood that you should try in Shimonoseki. The gourmet food that has become famous nationwide in the last few years is "Kawara soba" (瓦そば, literally mean roof tile soba). Kawara soba has gained a lot of national recognition by appearing in the popular Japanese drama "We Married As A Job" (逃げるは恥だが役に立つ - broadcast in 2016) starring Yui Aragaki.

Kawara soba is a food made by putting ingredients such as fried tea soba (buckwheat flour kneaded with matcha), meat, and onions on hot tiles (瓦 / Kawara, a roof tile made from clay), and eat by dipping in soba soup called tsuyu. On top of the ingredients are grated lemon and grated radish (grated radish mixed with chili pepper).

While Kawara soba is said to have a birthplace in the soba shop "Originator Kawara Soba: Takase" (元祖瓦そばたかせ / Ganso Kawara Soba: Takase) in Kawatana Onsen, a hot spring town in Shimonoseki. There are many shops in the prefecture that offer Kawara soba as well. You can also buy a Kawara soba set as a souvenir from Yamaguchi Prefecture.

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