The Seto Inland Sea, sometimes shortened to the Inland Sea, is the body of water separating Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū, three of the four main islands of Japan. It serves as a waterway connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan. It connects to Osaka Bay and provides a sea transport link to industrial centers in the Kansai region, including Osaka and Kobe. Before the construction of the San'yō Main Line, it was the main transportation link between Kansai and Kyūshū.
Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama, Hyōgo, Osaka, Wakayama, Kagawa, Ehime, Tokushima, Fukuoka, and Ōita prefectures have coastlines on the Seto Inland Sea; the cities of Hiroshima, Iwakuni, Takamatsu, and Matsuyama are also located on it.
The Setouchi region encompasses the sea and surrounding coastal areas. The region is known for its moderate climate, with a stable year-round temperature and relatively low rainfall levels. The sea is famous for its periodic red tides (赤潮, akashio) caused by dense groupings of certain phytoplankton that result in the death of large numbers of fish. Since the 1980s, the sea's northern and southern shores have been connected by the three routes of the Honshū–Shikoku Bridge Project, including the Great Seto Bridge, which serves both railroad and automobile traffic.
Over 500 marine species are known to live in the Seto Inland Sea. Examples are the ayu, an amphidromous fish, horseshoe crab, finless porpoise, and great white shark, which has occasionally attacked people in the Seto Inland Sea. In the past, whales entered the sea to feed or breed, however because of whaling and pollution, they are rarely seen.