Atata Island is a fisherman’s island floating in the Sea of Aki.
Known as one of the best areas for fishing even within the Seto Inland Sea, just taking a look around the ferry terminal, you can see who the visiting anglers are.
As we reach the harbor, most of the passengers transfer to other ferries to be transported to the fish reserves floating in the sea.
Opened 5 years ago, this is Tairyomaru, a fishing pond on the sea.
I want to follow them, but I need to stay strong. My goal today is to walk around the island, but I have absolutely no idea where to go. My first plan was to ask some locals… However, there is not a single islander in sight. As I enter the waiting area in the harbor, I discover the “Casual Walk at Atata Island” guide, which was made by the children of the island! Well done, children!
The place that most tickled my interest was ’Mishiri no Hana’ (also known as “I’m sorry”) that locals pass through only after having said “I’m sorry” 3 times. However, it’s location is really hard to find, children!
I got lucky as an elderly couple came by – Atata islanders who have been living here since they were children.
I immediately ask the location of “I’m sorry”. Right away they answer, “It’s over there”. As I thank them and start to walk away the old man says playfully, “Hey mister, by the way, how much will ya give me?” while making the symbol for money with his finger. As I shake his hand he replies, “What, just a handshake!” and booms with laughter. That’s right, this is a fishermen’s island.
After walking for a while I see a promising opening. It’s a large hole born out of waves eroding the stone. An old tradition claims that if you don’t say, “I’m sorry” 3 times before passing through, the rocks will fall on you.
Seeing the rocks before my eyes, it would take a lot of courage to pass through without saying the words.
If you want to walk and enjoy some forest bathing, the mountain trail that winds around the highest peak on the island, Mt. Takayama (204m above sea level), is best. Here and there from between the trees you can catch glimpses of sublime seascapes spreading out before you, and a cove almost like a private beach for oyster cultivation.
Along the way I bump several times into red-clawed crabs that make the same gesture as the old man I met earlier.
And each time it seems like their asking, “How much will ya give me?” It’s so charming that I grin broadly by myself.
Among the many highlights of this small island, there is the Atata Island Shrine, which is related to Miyajima Island, and the old Aki Shiraishi Lighthouse, registered tangible cultural property!
On the way back, I again travel with the visiting fishermen. Apparently they had a big catch, and their boastful stories are really taking wind.
While looking at Atata Island fading in the distance, I promise myself “next time I’m going fishing!”
Setouchi Island Tour
Located in Otake city, Hiroshima prefecture, Atata Island has an area of just 2.41 square km and a population of 300. Most of the islanders work as fishermen, and starting from traditional sardine fishing, young yellowtail, sea bream and oyster cultivation have become popular lately.
Around 35 minutes from Ogata Port, Otake city, Hiroshima prefecture (Atata Island round trip x 5 per day)
Homepage: http://atatakisen.jimdo.com/ (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Masashi Fujimoto
Masafumi Fujimoto Hi there! My name is Masafumi Fujimoto. Until the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was engaged in editing production at an advertising company in Tokyo. However, the earthquake was a turning point in my life and I headed home to Yamaguchi. When I arrived, I was extremely energized and motivated to help revitalize the region, but I had a hard time adjusting to the motivation level of the local people. Around that time I met an elderly lady who said: "It doesn't matter if all the people move away from the island; that's just the nature of things. Someday people will come back again." Lessening the tension I’d been feeling, those few words relieved me hugely, and I was able to finally adjust. Since then, I've been involved in writing and editing magazines, and working in advertisement production, as well as doing a little bit of farming. I also spend time walking around Setouchi searching for the many, many voices out there.
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