Perhaps by now you have read about the Oki Islands? Not Okinawa but Oki, a picturesque islands in the Sea of Japan, an enjoyable ferry ride away from the mainland of Shimane and Tottori.
If you take the morning ferry “Ferry Kuniga” from Shichirui Port (Matsue) to Oki, you will first arrive into Chiburijima Island (stopping for just five minutes). This little village (population 600) is the sleepiest, most laid-back place in the Oki Islands. The ferry will then take you through the inner sea (a caldera created by volcanic eruptions 5 – 6 million years ago) and on to Beppu Port. The ferry passes alongside Mt. Takuhi, the location of an impressive mountain shrine. Be sure to listen for the ferry horn being blown – this is in recognition of the man who started the Oki Kisen Ferry Line (Mr. Matsuura) who was the priest of this shrine, and to the god of the shrine to bless their sea voyage.
Beppu Port is the entry point to Nishinoshima Island. Large ferries and small inter-island ferries arrive here. The local tourism association (information center) is located in the port building. They have English information available, and also an English-speaking staff member. Make sure you check their homepage too. www.nkk-oki.com
Nishinoshima is not a small, round, flat island, so you will need to do a little planning if you want to make the most of your time here. The tourism office has rental bicycles, and nearby is a rent-a-car company. The local town bus goes to the Kuniga Coast (spring – autumn). There are minshuku, ryokan, hotels and log cabins on the island, as well as two campgrounds. Activities that visitors from overseas have enjoyed include sea kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, diving, wake-boarding, hiking, fishing, walking, cycling and trying some of the local seafood delicacies. There is something for everyone here in Nishinoshima. But, there is limited English, so make sure you do a bit of research first – the friendly local people here will be willing to help you out for sure!
Highlights of a trip to Nishinoshima have to be the following (in no particular order):-
- Kuniga Coast (hike along the coastal trail, sea kayak along the coast, watch the sunset)
- Matengai Cliff (enjoy the view from the highest sea cliff in Japan, walk through the farmland)
- Akao Lookout (enjoy the view across the sea, watch cows and horses graze)
- Onimai Lookout (enjoy the view, walk through the farmland, have a picnic at the top of the hill)
- Yurahime Shrine (look for “hidden squid” in the shrine, forest and harbor)
- Takuhi Shrine (enjoy walking through the forest, have a quiet prayer in the oldest shrine in Oki)
- Sotohama Beach/Mimiura Beach (enjoy a day of relaxing in the sun, swimming, BBQ etc.)
The people of Nishinoshima are always kind and welcoming! Take the time to discover this beautiful, laid-back part of Japan.