- 3 min read

Shiraishi Island Paradise

Hidden gem of the Seto Inland Sea in Okayama

Sip cool beer from a handmade bamboo cup as you sway languidly in a hammock. Gaze at gentle lapping waves on a peaceful sandy beach in front of you. Listen to the sound of chirping crickets invisible in the lush green hills behind you. No, I am not describing a fictional perfect holiday getaway. I am describing and introducing you to one of Japan’s hidden gems: Shiraishi Island (白石島), the island of white rock, mists and trances.

Nestled in the bosom of the Seto Inland Sea in Okayama Prefecture, this tiny, quirky island is truly a great discovery. As yet unknown to most Japanese (great for Golden Week!) it is the perfect place to relax and restore your weary soul back to its optimum genki level.

Shiraishi is a stripped down, non-commercial break from the ordinary. If you’re looking to relax in a hammock on a quiet beach sipping cocktails, on this island you’ve got it. If you’re into water sports such as windsurfing, kayaking and sailing, just find Paul and Amy at the bovine-friendly Moooo! Bar. Enjoy walking? Try the gentle hike up to the top of the island—take a bottle of water with you and check out the view, it’s amazing!

Shiraishi is an exact miniature copy of Shikoku Island. It even has a smaller version of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage (known as the Shiraishi Pilgrimage) where numbered statues of Buddhist monks are dotted around various parts of the island. Seek out the statues nestled in rock crevices or hidden in the undergrowth beneath cool shady woodland, and ring the ancient peace bells upon discovering the hidden Indonesian temple at the island’s centre.

In the summer evenings expect local entertainment on a makeshift stage on the beach, nights around a bonfire exchanging travel stories, eating delicious freshly caught fish served grilled or as sashimi (Japanese raw fish) as well as classics such as yakisoba (Japanese fried noodles), curry rice and even burritos or pizza for those craving western cuisine.

Shiraishi offers a great selection but comfortable accommodation at reasonable prices. Choose to stay at friendly local minshuku such as San-Chan’s (western-style bed and breakfast options available here). Alternatively if you’re looking for exclusive privacy for a romantic break or a vacation away with groups of friends, then check in at The Cottage or the Okayama International Villa for Shiraishi (the international villas are the only villas operated by Okayama Prefecture and the local cities in Japan that offer amazing accommodation at one of the lowest rates in Japan). If you really want to go back to basics, bring camping equipment and ‘rough’ it on the beach.

This island holds a unique magic. Prepare to be charmed by the locals, entranced by the nature and thoroughly refreshed by the experience, as I was.


Join the discussion

JJ Walsh 11 years ago
I've been to Shiraishi island a few times to stay for a few nights to a week at a time and we always enjoy the experience. However, you should be warned of the huge factory works across the bay that is a serious blemish on the view. It is also quite hard to find accommodation during busy times like golden week and long weekends during the warmer months- so make sure to book well in advance (with Amy & Paul) for any upcoming holidays vacation plans on the island. I know a few people who do Shiraishi island as a day-trip, but it is much more relaxing to stay.
Last time I went we stayed over Obon to watch the famous Obon dancing event held at the end of the Obon holidays on the main beach- it is quite an amazing sight to see.
As of my last visit, the Villa is no longer run by the Okayama villa group and can only be booked out through the friendly people at the Moo bar or you can inquire at the ferry ticket office once you get to the island.
I would also like to add how wonderful having Amy & Paul as a part of the community is for the island- booking accommodation, taking a sailing tour or hanging out at their great Mooo bar really adds a lot to a visit to Shiraishi.