In this sixth installment of the multipart series introducing my favourite Japanese moorage ports, having introduced three ports in western Shikoku I will now introduce three ports in eastern Shikoku.
Although not as an appealing a cruising destination as Shikoku’s west coast, the east coast attracts many cruisers simply by virtue of being on the way to/from adrenalin-pumping Naruto Strait and the Seto Inland Sea.
Going from south to north, I will introduce three ports. I will also briefly mention three islands that I have not visited but that have been recommended by cruising friends.
Hiwasa is a lovely, well-protected natural harbour that is often used as a typhoon hole by cruisers and fishing boats. Although entering Hiwasa can be a bit challenging when visibility is poor or conditions are rough, the entrance is well marked and protected by double breakwaters on both sides. Heading inland up the river, take the fork going off your port side, mooring along the western wall, usually just behind a Coast Guard boat. (33°43.8479’N, 134°32.3107’E)
Hiwasa is a great walking town. You can walk to a castle overlooking the port, to Yakuoji Temple (#23 on the 88 Shikoku Temples Pilgrimage Route), to a lovely hot spring bath (just below the temple), and to several stores and restaurants. A bit further away, on the north side of the river, are a nice beach and a sea-turtle museum. To explore other parts of eastern Shikoku, you can hop on the train at Hiwasa Station, a five-minute walk from your boat.
About 30NMs north of Hiwasa is the large commercial/industrial port of Komatsushima. Moorage can be found at a fairly well protected floating pontoon (big enough to accommodate boats up to about 50’) just south of the Coast Guard station. The moorage fee is ¥500/day, collected by somebody working in the nearby port office, although some cruisers have told me that nobody ever came to collect even though they were there for several days. (34°0.5846’N, 134°35.5012’E)
There’s nothing of particular note near the dock – the main reason to moor there is that it is a convenient place to stop before/after transiting Naruto Strait…and mooring on a floating dock is a welcome luxury if one has been side-tied to concrete walls for a long time! There are, however, quite a few shops and restaurants in the neighbourhood.
On the northeast corner of Shikoku is the fishing port of Hiketa, another popular stop for boats heading to/from Naruto Strait (on the opposite side from Komatsushima).
Approaching Hiketa, take care to avoid the many fixed nets and other aquaculture areas – a very good reason not to arrive or leave at night. Moorage can be found at the end of a concrete dock, as shown on the map; moor at the north end of the pier as a fishing boat occupies the south end. (34°13.5567’N, 134°24.4712’E)
In its heyday (late 14th to early 20th centuries), Hiketa was a very prosperous town, benefiting from its location to host ships waiting for winds and currents to transit Naruto Strait. That, in turn, led to the development of various local industries, including soy sauce, sake, sugar, and leather (and leather goods) production. A walk around town will reveal many lovingly maintained Edo and Meiji Era buildings, some of which are open to the public or accommodate modern cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Three Other Moorage Spots
Although I have not visited them, cruisers whose judgment I trust have recommended the following three moorage spots, from south to north.
Oshima is an uninhabited island with an inlet on its west side that is good for anchoring in all winds, except westerlies. In the far northeast corner of the inlet there is a floating dock (not connected to land) that one friend tied up to. (33°38.1766’N, 134°29.1936’E)
One can find moorage space on the eastern wall of the fishing port on the north side of this island.
This is a great location for making an early-morning passage through Naruto Strait. One can moor on either side of the wall that sticks out from the inner basin breakwater – the west side of the wall is apparently in better condition but the east side doesn’t experience the wake of fishing boats zipping in and out of the harbour.
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