Anchored in Marina Hop - an outlet mall and amusement park south of Hiroshima City - the Kaioh, or ‘Sea King’, stands ready to ferry visitors to and from Miyajima. But don’t expect your usual crossing – the Kaioh is a fully decked-out crimson pirate ship, complete with masts, cannons and pieces of eight.
A crossing with a difference
“You don’t see many cruise boats where children can have so much fun during the crossing,” says the captain of the Kaioh, Ryosuke Okano. “It’s great to hear all the laughter and people photographing the ship.”
Originally carrying landlubbers around the seas of Nagasaki, the Kaioh dropped anchor in the Seto Inland Sea two years ago. Now, the ship takes visitors on 45-minute voyages between Marina Hop and Hiroshima’s much-visited World Heritage Site every weekend.
“We wanted to create a cruise the whole family could enjoy,” says Okano. “During the journey, children can take part in a treasure hunt or dress as pirates while the adults sit back and enjoy the fantastic views.”
Pirate-themed music rang out as excited children and parents began to board and explore the ship. Okano was right. From the quarter deck, complete with its replica wooden helm, there were uninterrupted panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea.
The Kaioh sails between Marina Hop and Miyajima
You can buy tickets at the dock
She flies the jolly roger
The pirate decorations inside the ship
Setting sail towards Miyajima
Unparalleled panoramic views from the quarterdeck
You can sit back and enjoy the scenery of the Seto Inland Sea
Treasure hunts and priceless views
As the engines started and we set sail, Captain Okano’s voice came over the PA system. “The treasure hunt for children is 100 yen and a fiendishly difficult adult treasure hunt is 300 yen.”
Both children and adults on the treasure hunt set to solving clues and collecting hidden treasure stamps. Stacks of doubloons and skull and crossbones decorating the interior of the ship added to the atmosphere. Other passengers chose to relax on deck in the fresh sea air, taking in views of Hiroshima and the surrounding islands.
The Kaioh caters for the whole family. Among the standard snacks and drinks, the ship’s tuck-shop sells bubble bottles for children and cold grog for adults. While you eat you can listen to recorded information, in Japanese and English, about the islands and places of historical importance as you sail past.
On arriving at Miyajima, the passengers disembark fresh from one adventure straight onto their next one.
You can purchase single or return fares - giving you the option to choose only one leg of the journey. You can also choose a 30-minute Hiroshima bay cruise from Marina Hop if you don’t want to visit Miyajima.
A treasure hunt be underway
These are the clues for the treasure hunt
There are plenty of costumes if you fancy becoming a pirate
The tuck shop offers snacks, drinks as well as soap bubbles for children and chilled grog for adults
Coming into port in Miyajima
Address: 4 Chome-14-35 Kanonshinmachi, Nishi Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 733-0036
Hours: Open everyday 10am to 8pm
The route 3 bus goes from Hiroshima Station to Marina Hop via the Atomic Bomb Dome every eight minutes. You can catch the bus at Hiroshima Station from bus stop no. 1 and the Kamiyacho bus stop in front of Hiroshima Bank near the Atomic Bomb Dome.
Miyajima - Marina Hop Fares
Adult 1200JPY Children 600JPY
Adult 2000yen Child 1000yen
Kaioh - 45 minutes (Weekends only)
High Speed Ferry - 25 minutes
Aqua-net Service Co.,Ltd.
Words & Photography by Tom Miyagawa Coulton
(Visited in August 2017)