Restaurants With Views on the Seto Inland Sea in Awaji
Seikaiha is a complex encompassing two restaurants, a theater and a bar located on the north-western coast of Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture. Facing the Seto Inland Sea, these themed facilities each sustain their own concept with original menus and atmospheres.
The Pasona group, an important Japanese human resources company, and its Hyogo Prefecture-born CEO Yasuyuki Nambu have been working for several years towards the cultural and touristic revival of Awaji-shima. For this reason, the company operates several entertainment venues in the north of Awaji: restaurants, cultural sites and hotel 🏨 complexes.
The Seikaiha complex, achieved in 2020, includes four facilities highlighting the local gastronomy while offering their customers a wonderful panorama on the island’s western coast, on the side of the Seto Inland Sea.
Let’s review each of the places and their characteristics.
Japanese restaurant Aonoya
In Aonoya, the restaurant is laid out like an auditorium, which is perfectly suited to the new sanitary rules born from 2020’s Covid-19 🦠 pandemic. All tables are indeed facing the same direction, towards the sea. Therefore, customers cannot sit face to face, only side by side, and Plexiglas sheets separate each group.
Guests are seating on an elevated position on the auditorium steps, overlooking the room and especially the kitchen, which is completely opened. The soundscape is provided by the live performance of a musician and the paintings displayed were made by handicapped Japanese artists and employees of Pasona Heartful.
On the daytime, the beautiful panoramic view on the Seto Inland Sea is a reminder of the restaurant’s name meaning: Ao no ya (青の舎) is indeed translated as "Blue House." In the evening, after a marvelous view of the sunset, the windows are used to display nice projection mappings.
Lunch and dinner have menus offering traditional seasonal dishes, made with ingredients from Awaji, mainly:
- Fish and seafood prepared in sushi 🍣;
- Onion and local beef tempura fritters.
The dishes are served in lovely two-drawers wooden bento 🍱 boxes.
Western cuisine restaurant Uminoya
The restaurant is mainly targeted at Japanese guests with a nostalgia for the Meiji Era (1868 – 1912) when Japan opened to the modern Western world. The decoration largely draws its inspiration from this time, giving the vibe of an old-fashioned European-style castle 🏯 atmosphere:
- Large tables set with white tablecloths;
- Western-style wood furniture;
- Ancient tableware; and,
- Impressive stone sculptures and paintings.
The menu was designed to pair with the decor, and provides Western dishes with a Japanese touch, such as:
- Awaji beef stew;
- Onion soup; and,
- Rice omelet.
Spaces in the restaurant are dispatched around a monumental stairway and surrounded by large windows letting the sunlight in and offering a beautiful view on the Seto Inland Sea from the tables.
Like in Aonoya, professional musicians (piano, guitar, saxophone) perform and sing live.
Hajotei - Naminoritei theater
The Naminoritei theater welcomes Seikaiha’s customers who would like to add a cultural tone to their experience. Artistic shows are held each afternoon at the theater, and while the program is different every day, the performances schedule frequently includes:
- Traditional Japanese music such as taiko drum;
- Popular literary shows or dramas such as rakugo or taishu engeki.
The stage features a peculiar background: behind the usual black curtain there is no wall but a large window with a view on the sea. Thus, performers and the audience are not necessarily in a dark room throughout the duration of the show. On the contrary, the wonderful and bright marine landscape in the background further enhances the show happening on stage.
Koshunoya sake bar
The latest facility opened, Koshunoya, is a sake 🍶 bar to taste aged Japanese spirits, which are on average 10-year-old and more. It is something rare to find even in Japan, and the bar has a specific range of vintage spirits including:
- Sake, the Japanese rice alcohol called nishonshu in Japan;
- Umeshu, a popular plum wine; and,
- Shochu, a traditional distilled spirit.
Excessive drinking put your health at risk. Alcoholic beverages should be consumed in moderation.
In a subdued and homely atmosphere, the sommelier guides clients in their selection of high quality brews and best vintages. The aged spirits display a nice amber color, contrary to the day-to-day alcohols that are clear and transparent.
Koshunoya also has a shop at the ground floor and presents food and sake pairings to try, for an original experience.