Ushimado is a village town in the Setouchi Inland Sea, where it’s also known as the Mediterranean of Japan. This southern part of Japan holds similar climate to that of the Mediterranean Sea which makes for a premier location to grow olives. At the Ushimado Olive Villa, guests get to feel like they are in a whole different world, right here in Japan. The Olive Villa itself is perched on top of a hill overlooking the Ushimado village and its surrounding islands nearby. A villa with only five guestrooms, this place makes for a great getaway from the bustling cities and landscapes nearby in Okayama prefecture.
Ushimado Olive Villa, on top of a hill overlooking the village
The Villa is located at the foot entrance of the Olive Park. Greeted by a Mediterranean style gelato shop and a pet goat, the premise is otherwise very quiet and refreshing. In the off-season of November, I was the only guest staying at the Villa guest homes. But in the summers, the area comes more to life. For only ¥5,000 a night, the guest villa includes a cozy yet grand living room with a fireplace and bar perfect for even a wedding ceremony. My room included a bathroom, closet, two bed that were fluffy and warm, a TV, and ceiling to floor windows that looked right at lemon trees and the sunrise. Everything was very clean and the manager was hospitable to all my needs. In the bathroom, you also get a chance to try out some of Nippon Olive’s products such as shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. The staff at the entire park and gelato shop were all so welcoming and kind to my needs, helping me by calling a taxi or even giving me a ride to and from the villa if needed.
Though there aren’t any restaurants within walking distance and most restaurants in the town below close by 6:00 or 7:00pm, the Villa has a fully equipped kitchen for guests. This includes a full sized refrigerator, stove, rice cooker, a kettle, microwave, sink, cooking utensils and bowls. If you want to spend a relaxing evening here without the hassle of going out to eat, be sure to bring cooking ingredients or easy conbini food that can be heated up or made with hot water.
A ten minute walk up the hill brings guests to the official Olive Park, where the guest services building stands. Inside the building includes an olive gift shop and café where guests can enjoy teas and baked goods using the local olive oil.
There are many beauty products and food ingredients available at the shop for all the olive lovers in your life, too. I also highly recommend trying the olive oil ice cream! If you can’t bare to leave the delicious scent of fresh olives behind when you part, the shop also sells small and medium sized olive trees in pots for purchase. But be sure to ask how to take care of an olive tree, as it needs a certain climate to grow in.
The top of the building is also a beautiful lookout spot, but similar scenery can be enjoyed from the grassy hilltops where benches line next to hundreds of olive trees all across the park. I tried eating an olive off of one of the trees but it didn’t taste as great as the harvested ones! I took an early morning hike up here from the villa at the crack of dawn to get a glimpse of the sunrise.
As I waited for the sun to greet the day, I was joined by others from the area who use the park as a daily or weekly hiking spot. The friendly locals helped me identify nearby islands that began to pop out at sea as the sun rose higher. This hilltop is also popular with couples, as it’s a romantic spot that even has a “bell for lovers.” The pictures I got of the sunrise truly do it no justice, so I would recommend visiting and seeing it for yourself!
After the chilly early morning, I went back to my room to take a hot bath and slather on some new local olive lotion I purchased. It’s exciting to know that the health and beauty products I used were right from this park itself; a truly local and organic experience. I packed up and hiked back to the olive shop where I had an sweet olive oil cake and olive oil infused tea for breakfast while overlooking the gorgeous morning view before saying goodbye to the hospitable Ushimado Olive Villa.
Ushimado Olive Villa information:
〒701-4302 412-1 Ushimado, Setouchi-shi, Okayama-ken
Services open 9:00am – 17:00pm (park grounds open 24/7)
Check-in at the shop by 17:00pm
Click on the website here.
How to get here:
From Oku station take a taxi. A bus is available only a few times a day, but it is an additional 25 minute walk to the Villa from the closest stop.
Another great option is to drive a car. There is a large parking lot available for guests.
Nina is a professional and recreational writer currently exploring her motherland of Japan. When she's not busy working on her upcoming conversational English book, she can be spotted biking around Tokyo to indulge in delicious food and attempting to snuggle with kitties at cat cafés. She's an odd collector of free brochures from travel counters, always looking for the next exciting destination. Nina often likes to escape the Tokyo city life to go discover new trails on the outbacks of Japan, where she enjoys connecting with locals and wanderers alike.
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