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Visiting Shishi-jima Island: An Unforgettable Remote Location in the Seto Inland Sea

 

The depth of Japanese history defies conception for many visitors. Visiting remote Shishi-jima Island in Japan’s southern Seto Inland Sea is a trip back in time surrounded by powerful natural beauty. Come here for a deeper understanding of how natural phenomena in largely untouched rural Japanese areas have inspired powerful imaginations for generations.

 

An island of wonder in southern Japan

 

Many claim the “true Japan” lies in the countryside. While this is perhaps debatable, remote Shishi-jima Island off the coast of Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku offers a profound look at a largely unknown rural side of Japan. Currently only home to 20+ people, the island is accessible by ferry from Takuma, Kagawa in the Mitoyo area and features two incredible locations: a 1,200-year old camphor tree of incredible size and grandeur, and a majestic, sprawling flower garden with stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea and the Seto Ohashi double deck bridge. Traveling to Shishi-jima will satisfy any visitor to Japan seeking a truly unique and compelling experience.

 

The port of Shishi-jima in the Seto Inland Sea

 

Shishi-jima Island’s 1,200 year-old massive, majestic camphor tree

 

Less than a 20-minute hike from Shishi-jima’s ferry port, visitors will find the island’s main attraction and dominating presence: a tree so large and sprawling it must be seen to be believed. Japanese Shinto spiritual beliefs put high value in natural life, and according to these values, this tree is nothing short of a god, or “shinboku-sama.”

 

 

The site is currently well manicured and includes a red torii gate that signifies the tree is also effectively a Shinto shrine. Please treat the area with ample respect upon visiting—this is a holy site, where visitors should find a remarkable testament to nature’s grandeur and power.

 

 

Japanese animism and appreciation for nature has inspired nearly every realm of Japanese consciousness, including art and philosophy. Take a moment away from modern reality to appreciate the power of the Earth we were all born from in this compelling, beautiful location.

 

Tenku no Hanabatake: A flower garden, reborn through crowdfunding

 

Shishi-jima Island’s other main attraction is Tenku no Hanabatake “Sky Meadow,” a vast flower garden currently maintained by an amazing, powerful and vivacious grandmother named Mrs. Takashima. She’s been taking care of the grounds with her son’s family’s help in the name of maintaining this stunning garden well into the future.

 

Photo credit: Mitoyo Tourism & Exchange Authority

 

A recent campaign on the Japanese crowdfunding website CAMPFIRE raised over 1.5 million yen (approx. $15,000 USD) for the garden, and further donations are greatly appreciated upon visiting. Local arts and crafts can also be purchased to support the garden. Given its remote location, visitors are highly appreciated, and the garden also has an Instagram account you can check out beforehand.

 

Photo credit: Mitoyo Tourism & Exchange Authority

 

The Sky Meadow flower garden would make a jaw-dropping picnic location, and your visit supports the future of a highly unknown side of Japan. Make sure to take a photo with Mrs. Takashima!

 

Photo credit: Mitoyo Tourism & Exchange Authority

 

Lose yourself in a magical world and support the local community

 

The magical worlds of Japanese manga, anime and art also draw heavily on inspiration from nature’s grandeur, and traveling to Shishi-jima Island will give visitors a new sense of appreciation for Japan’s nature and these aesthetic traditions. Further, the island is simply gorgeous and captures an essence of the “true Japan” unlike any other location. Traveling here will support the local economy and open visitors’ eyes to a new side of Japan that will keep them coming back again and again.

 

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    About the author

    gaby_doman

    Author: Caleb DeMarais
    Profile: Caleb DeMarais hails from the USA but has called Japan home for nearly 15 years. Whether knee deep in Japanese onomatopoeia, dissecting traditional craftsmanship or trying his best at rakugo puns, a fascination with everything Japan inspires his work as a writer and translator.

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