There are very many islands in the Setouchi Inland Sea.
Among these, “Shishi-jima” in Mitoyo City in Kagawa has long been an island I really wanted to visit.
Start your trip off by getting on a ferry boat.
You have to take a ferry boat to go to Shishi-jima from the Miyanoshita Port in Takuma-cho, Mitoyo City.
Today, we will take the first ferry in the morning, and come back on the last ferry from the island.
We will fully enjoy the entire day trip to Shishi-jima!
We can buy tickets on the ferry.
Shishi-jima is a small island,with its 3.8-kilometer circumference and only 20 people living on the island.
It takes only a 20-minute ferry ride from Miyanoshita Port.
This island has been used as a shooting location for some Japanese movies.
Now, we can see the island from the deck!
Right after getting off the ferry, you will find along the street a sign board with information about the island.
Well, which spot do you want to go to first…?
“Ume-baka” which are rare graves for in-ground burial,can be seen on Shishi-jima.
These are graves called “Ume-baka,” lined up along the seaside of Shishi-jima, and they are rare because these graves are not the burial style used in present-day Japan.
Once, there was a custom called the “ryoubo” system in Japan, which meant having 2 graves for each person.
One is the grave for the actual body (ume-baka), and the other is a dedicated grave for the soul of deceased (mairi-baka).
Cremation is now the standard in Japan, but these ume-baka still remain on this island.
The small sheds are called “tama-ya” and mortuary tablets and utensils used for religious rites at funerals are dedicated for exclusive use at each shed.
Most of the sheds have reed screens on the roof to help the souls in the shed avoid the sunlight and heat.
You can see that people care for the soul and their ancestors, and it is very precious to discover these kinds of old customs.
Now, let’s go see the guardian of the island, which I expect to be the highlight of this trip!
The path that leads to the big camphor tree has many ups and downs, so please be careful to walk carefully and hold on to the rope along the path.
How spectacular…! This is the huge 1200-year-old camphor tree.
Finally, I have reached the big camphor tree, the guardian deity of the island.
We were overwhelmed by its magnificent scale, with its powerful trunk and branches growing so freely.
Touching the surface of the bark, and knowing about how long the tree has lived here, made me think about time and history.
1200 years…, I have no other choice but to respect this tree, which is still growing now.
This camphor tree was selected as one of “The Best 100 Scenic Spots in Sanuki (Kagawa)” and “Natural Monuments of Kagawa Prefecture.”
This big tree will give you a mystical energy and the experience will be a precious one for you.
Instagrammable sights in Shishi-jima Island!
This is the sightseeing tower built by the residents of the island.
You can see the calm Setouchi Inland Sea and the sky – both are so blue!
The top of Shishi-jima Island is a great point for viewing the great scenery of the sea and sky!
Residents in Shishi-jima used to produce various flowers, and this was the main industry of the island, so the island was called “the island of flowers.”
Fields of flowers covered the whole area and the view from the top of the island was like looking at a beautiful patchwork.
The number of flower-growing farmers has long been decreasing – however, local people are now trying really hard to revive “the island of flowers.”
So, please notice the various and colorful flowers from place to place.
You might be able to see some goats living here, which are the mascot characters of the island.
Maybe it is also one of the special experiences of Shishi-jima, coming in to touch them so closely.
After exploring the island, let’s take a rest at the rest house “Kusukusu,” near the port, until departure.
You can have some drinks and ice cream, and even purchase some souvenirs from the island, such as postcards with a goat motif.
This is an important place for communication among the people who live on the island.
Most of the residents come here to talk and exchange information around the time when the last ferry arrives.
It seems that the whole island is like one big family.
You can have a friendly conversation with the people who gather here, and it doesn’t matter whether you live here or are just a tourist.
This is one fascinating aspect of this island in the Setouchi Inland Sea.
Shishi-jima Island is a very small and peaceful place, so that you can explore the whole island in one day, even though there are so many attractions.
Go there with your backpack on a sunny day!
The island definitely welcomes and embraces you with its laid-back attitude and peaceful atmosphere.
Address／Shishi-jima, Takuma-cho, Mitoyo-shi, Kagawa
Phone／0875-56-5880（The office of Tourism and Exchange in Mitoyo-City）
Fare of the ferry／Between Miyanoshita Port and Shishi-jima Adults (junior high school students or older) 340 yen, Children (Elementary school students) 170 yen
The first ferry from Miyanoshita Port to Shishi-jima: 8:30, the last ferry from Shishi-jima to Miyanoshita Port: 15:50
Photographs and text by Megumi Yamada
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Megumi Yamada Although I was born in Kagawa, after graduating high school I spent time in America, Kyoto, and East Timor, and now live in Kagawa again. I’m currently rediscovering the beauty of my hometown. I love to draw and take pictures.
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