The Sea Turtle Museum is an aquarium composed of four rooms and some outdoor tanks which hold live sea turtles. Various exhibits display different species of sea turtle, both live and taxidermed. There is a small area for children to color in pictures of turtles, an overlook onto the beach where they lay their eggs, and some demonstrations to help you understand various aspects fo sea turtle existence. Some of the giant sea turtles are over fifty years old. A visit to the museum should last about an hour and a half, but a word of caution, nothing is in English, only Japanese
Many Japanese know Hiwasa because of the Yakuoji temple, one of the 88 shrines of the pilgrimage. We visited this shrine on New Year's Day and it was quite crowded. You walk up several long flights of steps, leaving a one yen coin on each, then approach the main temple to worship. The temple really is an active center of worship, with several idols and incense burners. Slightly above the main temple is the Yugi-to, which is the symbol of Hiwasa and most visible part of the shrine.
It is hard to say what I found so fascinating about Yakuoji except to say that it is so far off the beaten tourist path that you really do feel you are looking at an unadulterated, undiluted part of Japan. All around you there are well dressed Japanese worshipping as is their custom, bowing down before their idols, bobbing their heads as they pray, waiting in line for incense, it all has a very natural feel to it.
You have to share Ohama beach with the sea turtles, but when it is open it has a very nice stretch of sand in a semi-sheltered cove featuring beautiful mountain scenery and a few tea ooms and seafood restaurants, including turtle dishes. I should add that the beach is not open year round. Having visited at New Year's, the water was MUCH too cold to do anything even remotely beachlike, though you could walk around in a sweater.
My mother in law chose this monstrosity as part of a longstanding preference in Hiwasa. Although the exterior is really cheesy, the food was great and extremly fresh. In the rear they have tanks of water filled with shellfish. As people order, the guy in the back reaches into the tank and selects the shrimp, scallpps, sea urchins etc. , opens the shells and sets them on the boat-like platter. The food, or some dishes at least, is cooked at your table by setting the shells on the grill, adding sauces, and then letting them cook until.... they stop moving. At that point it is considered "done" and you eat it. Definitely a worthwhile experience if you happen to see it. The tables are traditional Japanese, meaning you sit cross-legged on a cushion if you are man and kneel if you are a woman
Favorite Dish: The seafood boat, cooked on the grill