Seto Inland Sea

After leaving Kobé we entered the famous Inland Sea, or rather strait, between the islands Nippon and Kiusiu. I wish I could describe the matchless beauty of the Inland Sea. For hours our course lay among and between islands seemingly without number, and of all sizes and shapes. They are all verdure clad. Some are not more than a few feet in diameter, others are large enough to furnish homes for settlements of the fishermen whose myriad boats, meeting the eye at every turn, add greatly to the charm of the scene.

Jottings of Travel in China and Japan (1888)

The day broke, as usual of late, in unclouded splendour. We were now in the Suonada, or inland sea, which, in fact, as we continued our sail over its transparent waters, resembled a “succession of lovely lakes,” one opening into the other. When the vessel was in the centre of one of these, no outlet was visible, the land on each side consisting of islands so closely grouped together as often, from a distance, to present the appearance of one unbroken shore. From the stern we could discern the opening by which we entered, now dwindled in the distance almost to a needle’s point, whilst the hills before us, apparently united, seemed to leave no visible means of egress. ...

The evening of the 9th of June was especially beautiful. We were approaching Nivarra, where we were told our steamer had anchored on her last trip. The land on all sides appeared to be so close to us, that we seemed to be threading our way for hours through a maze of shadowy islands. It was a still, calm evening, “clothed with the moon and silence.” The calm expanse of water, undisturbed even by a single ripple, was like a mirror in which the few lights visible from the shore appeared reflected. A scene of more entrancing beauty could not be imagined, some of these lights being perched like eagle’s eyries amid the crags, while others close to the water’s edge, to my fancy, resembled with their reflection long gilt spears with jewelled tips. ...

Next morning, we passed very near the mansion or castle of a Damio, an ugly-looking pile close to the beach, consisting, as far as we could discern, of a house surrounded by high walls.

A Lady’s Visit to Manilla and Japan (1863)