By Scott Brause
Oita prefecture is located on the island of Kyushu just off the main island of Japan. Oita is not all sea though, up in its Takasaki mountain visitors can see the famous snow monkeys in the national parks. Oita has recently revitalised many of its neighborhoods and districts. Overflowing with the vitality and charm of its citizens you can practically feel all the spirit in the salty air.
A large coastal prefecture focused on its long seafaring history, Saiki is full of retro charm that could be akin to the pirate ports of Spain or Maine.
Seafood that can not be missed! Oita knows its way around the kitchen and even more around the sea. Ise shrimp, sea urchin, yellowtail, and flounder are just a few of the treasures of the sea to be delighted by.
Oita is home to amazing works of art inspired by their relationship with the sea. Beautiful Sumi-e paintings of sea life are ready to decorate your home. Locally harvested pearls have been turned into fine pieces of jewelry by local artisans. Delicate seashells crafted into artworks, jewelry, and adorning dishes shine with a particular quaint charm.
Recommended Experiences in Kamae
Saiki city and Oita prefecture in general has rich history it is happy to share. Its locals embrace their heritage wholeheartedly. The region takes pleasure in sharing its varied. Visitors can trek the mountains and see the snow monkeys, go deep sea fishing out on the boats, or try cage fishing with a pirate.
KAMAE Sea Warrior Tourism ( 海賊ツーリズム): In the city of Saiki the locals have come together to promote their long history, fascinating culture, and daily lives. The KAMAE Sea Warrior tourism program invites tourists to come and participate in many of their traditional practices. Here are just a few highlights:
Deep sea rummaging in the night: That’s right, go out on the fishing vessel - led by Pirates Toyonko - in the dead of night to fish up rare stones, sea urchins, and other treasures only exposed by the deep tides pull.
Create your very own pearl jewelry piece: Learn the legend of the god of blue pearls while you string your own bracelet. Learn about the creation and harvesting of this ocean gem from the harvesters themselves. Combine pearls along with other beads to make a masterpiece the god of pearls would be proud of.
Yacht sailing experience: Get fancy and enjoy a good sail around the coast. Go snorkeling or diving and see the sea first hand. Learn how to sail the ship while you get the best view of the island.
Ise Shrimp Festival (東九州伊勢えび祭り): Annually, from September 2nd to November 30th, the Saiki locals celebrate the shrimp! The Ise Shrimp festival celebrates the lifting of the shrimp fishing ban for these three months. It is comprised of 28 stores along the seaside, big parades, and lots and lots of shrimp. Enjoy local delicacies such as Ise shrimp sashimi or Ise shrimp miso soup. Each store offers their own special shrimp themed dishes to try, so hit as many as you can! Business hours vary by shop so make sure to check the website below for detailed information on times and participating restaurants. http://higashi-iseebi.jp
Live like a local: Staying in Kamae
Meet the fishing community by staying with the locals! Kamae-Umigyo offers many different types of accommodations for travelers to their region. Whether you're looking for a rustic camping vibe, comfy inn, or peaceful guesthouse, Saiki has it all. Each place is run by friendly locals who are more than happy to show your the best parts of Saiki.
The Plateau Campground
This cozy campsite offers three cabins and seven tents to rest in. Set up on a plateau in the area for a fabulous outlook over the sea and islands of Kamae. Weather permitting, you can look out to the Shikoku mountains on the other side of the sea. Cabins come with kitchen and restroom appliances. All kitchen equipment and blankets can be rented from the administration building. Tents, lanterns, and outdoor cooking equipment are also available for rent. Cabins are only 7,560 yen and can accommodate up to 6-7 people. Tents cost 2,160 yen and can have 5-6 people comfortably.
Inn Ito is the closest you can get to staying by the ocean without being in it. Set right on the shore, the ocean and beach are visible right from the windows. Walk outside and you're on the beach. All stays come with two meals. This location is a real treat since the owner catches the fresh fish daily, right from the shore. If you wish to join him on the catch, feel free to book a net tour experience along with your stay. Get ready to be a glutton full of the freshest delicious fish. A stay at Ito Inn is 8,000 yen a night, along with those two yummy meals.
Shimizu Marine Inn
Spend a leisurely time at this local inn and be prepared for the fresh seafood of your dreams. This inn is made up of two complexes: the main building, Okame, and the annex. This accommodation is great for larger groups. Listen to the sounds of the Shiosai (the waves) and kick back to relax. Shimizu Marine Inn prides itself on real local seafood dishes, even natural oysters in the winter! One night with two meals starts at 10,000 yen a night.
Minshuku Marunimaru is a new inn and guest house combination. A quiet place to spend time easily, this inn gives you a lot of freedom. It will leave you feeling like you're living in your Japanese hometown. Fresh seafood dishes are ready for you to dive right into. This inn is great for large groups or families who want to keep the group together. 10,000 yen a night per person, including two meals made just for you.
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Oklahoma girl now living in Japan. Graduated Keio University with a Masters in Media Design. Current student of the art of Shodo. Going on 4th year in Japan but still so much to explore. Specialties include art, design, culture, psychology, and sciences.