We have never seen a place more dedicated to one thing than in Shimonoseki. Home of the famous Fugu a.k.a. puffer fish, where you can find it everywhere – on canal lids, cups, cakes, the bushes art cut into the fish shape …
Shimonoseki is the southernmost city on Honshu island and the gateway to Kyushu . It´s a nice stop for a night or two, if you want to eat the world renowned Fugu at its home (you can get it also elsewhere, but here you´ll be surprised by the offer – more in The fugu dinner).
What to do in 1 day
8:30 – start your day at the fish market. The day can´t be bad, if you can choose between dozens of different types of sushi and sashimi for breakfast. Prices: between 50 and 300 Yen for one peace. Walk out of the market, sit down on the ocean promenade under the palm trees and enjoy.
9:30 – just a 5-10 minute walk away is the Shimonoseki Aquarium. It has the biggest collection – you guessed it – of different Fugu. But not only this round funny looking fish calls this place home: lots of different penguins, dolphins and of course other ocean animals are permanent residents. In the morning you can book penguin interactions, like photo shootings (no touching!) or cuddling (no own camera) for free. We did the cuddling, but were disappointed: you have exactly 1,5 minutes with the animal, they take photos of you, which you can purchase later for 1000 Yen. The “fish zone” is amazing – 3 storeys full of aquariums in different shapes and sizes, the best are the walks through tunnels. At various times they also have shows in the amphitheatre (sea lions and dolphins) as well as in the aquariums (feeding). Entrance to the Aquarium: 2000 (16€) Yen, with discount coupon (we got it at the hostel): 1700 Yen
13:00 – It’s lunch time! We had lunch at the aquarium as they have an amazing restaurant with windows into the dolphin pool. You can enjoy your food while dolphins swim past you. The food was good and not too expensive – a fish burger with French fries was 1200 Yen (9,7€) and Udon noodles with fish sashimi 1300 Yen (10,5€). If you don’t want to eat in the aquarium, 5 minute walk away are restaurants as well as a family mart.
14:30 – Next to the Aquarium is an amusement park – a giant rainbow wheel, a small roller-coaster, a maze, etc. are there to entertain you. We fancied only the giant wheel (1300 Yen for 2) from where the whole strait, the bridge, the Kitakyushu (city on the other side of the strait) and part of Shimonoseki are visible very well.
16:00 – Head to the Akama shrine, where a bright red gate and snow white façade will get your attention. The shrine is beautiful, facing the ocen and is dedicated to the Emperor Antoku, who drowned at age three.
16:30 – go nearer to the bridge and take a look at the bridge as well as at the nice small shrine with red tori
17:00 – walk/cycle through the tunnel to Kyushu (you have to push your bike for 700 metres in the tunnel). Once on the other side, right next to the exit is a temple, from where a pathway leads to the city and the port area. There you can enjoy food, drinks or just a stroll past for Japan unusual architecture.
19:30 – go back to Shimonoseki through the tunnel. Again on the other side there´s a small park with canons, right next to it is a restaurant (which should be a bit more expensive – we didn’t go there).
If you stay at the YHA Shimonoseki, which is btw. brand new, modern and has a jaw dropping view, you can visit the tulip park and ride the ropeway up to Hino-Yama lookout (300 Yen one way, 500 Yen return). We didn´t do it because in the morning it was always extremely foggy and in the afternoon/evening we were always busy.
In our opinion, Shimonoseki is a city worth a visit, not only because of Fugu. 😀