Oshima, Hakata, and Omishima.
Oshima is the first of the islands on the Shimanami Kaido bridge way that connects Shikoku to Hiroshima Prefecture. The island has a population of about 7000, and is divided into two towns, Yoshiumi and Miyakubo.
Location / Access / Transport
- Car/Bike: Oshima is accessible from Imabari by bicycle or car via the Shimanami Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge.
- Bus: there are several local bus routes around the island, as well as a bus that stops in both Miyakubo and Yoshiumi on its way from Omishima to Imabari. To/From Matsuyama – 4 buses a day into the city.
- Ferry: there is a ferry from Imabari Sanbashi ferry port to Oshima’s Shitadami Port. Other ferries run from Oshima to Hakatajima, Kamijima Town and Innoshima.
Tourism / Festivals/ Highlights
- Shima Shikoku – in imitation of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage around Shikoku, Oshima has 88 small temples around its coastline. Accomplishable in maybe two or three days, “Shima-Shikoku” is a good alternative for anyone without the time to travel around all of Shikoku.
- Suigun Race (Dragon Boat Race) – held in July on Noshima Island – the location of what was once a medieval Japanese naval base. All the rowboats used in the race are built in accordance with the medieval design.
- Yoshiumi Rose Park – well known for its beautiful roses and rose flavored ice cream. Visit the Rose Festival in May, featuring many modern and traditional performances, and rose ice cream!
- Kirosan observatory – which boasts the best view of the first Shimanami Bridge.
- Murakami Suigun Naval Museum – dedicated to the Murakami Suigun Navy who controlled the sea above Shikoku in the Feudal Era. Visitors to the museum should also take the “Experience the Currents Boat Ride” located behind the restaurant to experience the fastest sea currents in Japan, which reach up to 2m in height.
- Stone Museum – there is also a stone museum in Miyakubo to celebrate Oshima’s granite production.
Oshima has many fantastic and cheap family-run restaurants. There is a small cafe at the Rose Park, which serves set lunches. There are also two or three restaurants along the 317, serving various Japanese fare.
Oshima`s most famous restaurant is Ikiiki Kan (near Shitadami Port). You handpick your own live seafood, and then grill it yourself on a traditional style portable grill at your table outside.
The biggest supermarket is The Life Shop, on Route 317. Next door is a drug store with medicine and beauty products. Lawson’s and Circle K convenience stores are just up the road from The Life Shop.
Hakata Island [伯方島]
Hakatajima is a small island in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea, along the Shimanami Kaido bridges. It’s about 20 square kilometers in area, with a population of around 7000 people. The main industries are shipbuilding and shipping. It’s also famous for salt!
Location / Access / Transport
- Car: Hakatajima is connected to both Shikoku and Honshu by the Shimanami Kaido bridges. You can cross the bridges by car, scooter, bicycle or foot. By car, it’s about 30 minutes’ drive from Hakata Interchange to central Imabari.
- Ferry: 9 high-speed ferries a day from Imabari Sanbashi, stopping at Hakata’s Kinoura Port (35 minutes; 1030 yen). The ferry continues on to Habu Port on Innoshima, stopping at several of the Kamijima islands along the way.
- Bus: The main bus stop is right next to Hakata Interchange. To/From Imabari – buses run approximately every hour, and take about 35 minutes (864 yen). To/From Matsuyama – four buses a day.
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Hanami – Hakata is famous for the cherry blossoms on Mt. Hiraki/Hirakiyama開き山during the appropriate season. The views from the top of the mountain are worth a visit at any time of year.
- Hakata Summer Festival – features a rather impressive fireworks display on the beach.
- Festivals – there are various local festivals at the many small shrines and temples around the island, especially in the autumn.
- Museum – there is a small museum in mock-castle style up a mountain in the Kinoura district with panoramic views from the top. Free entrance.
- Hakata no Shio – Hakatajima is ‘famous’ for salt. The Hakata no shio brand name is sold all over Japan. (Truth is, it’s not even from the island anymore! They just ship it from either Mexico or Australia and package it here. Shh…). Stop for a salt ice cream at Hakata Beach, salt ramen at the small café inside the Marine Oasis or at Sanwa, and salty souvenirs at the Marine Oasis gift shop.
The Dolphin Farm Shimanami – Located at the beach; here you can either see, touch, or swim with the dolphins.
- Sanwa – a famous ramen shop near the police station that serves Hakata Salt Ramen.
- Fuu – okonomiyaki restaurant located on the frontage road across from the bus terminal, near the main beach.
- Sakura – okonomiyaki restaurant located on the main road towards the northwest side of the island.
- Tampopo – okonomiyaki restaurant located in Arouzu.
- Midori – a great izakaya with friendly owners opposite the community center. The sushi and sashimi are some of the best around. Seating at the counter downstairs, and a few large rooms upstairs which are often used for parties.
- Ume-ga-Hana ( 魚常-梅が花 ) – A seafood restaurant located at the top of the hill across from Arozu.
- Tamaya – a cute café on the main road halfway between the Interchange and the supermarket. Coffee, cakes and lunchtime meal sets. Gorgeous sea views and a small outside terrace.
- Borsa 2nd – A cafe that opened up in 2018 located arcoss from the interchange/bus stop.
- Hakata Shopping Center – the island’s biggest supermarket located directly across from Hakata High School in the Kinoura district.
- Marine Oasis gift shop – located by Hakata Beach; has a small farmers’ market inside.
- Alcohol and fish shop, located next to the high school.
- Conan Home Stock – opposite Hakata Beach. DIY, household products and toiletries.
- A few small shops for basic electronics/household goods in the Kinoura district.
- Zag Zag – drug store which sells everything a convenience store does but with greater variety and stock.
- Biking – a great day trip. There’s a bike rental point next to the Marine Oasis at Hakata Beach.
- Camping – there are a good number of campsites on Hakata and Omishima. Information and reservations are available at the bike rental point.
- Beaches – the main Hakata Beach, Okiura, and several tiny and hidden beaches all around the coast.
- Clubs – a few local sports/hobby groups meet in the evenings. Ask at the community center for details.
- Library – there is a small library located inside the community center (no English books).
There is karaoke and a few bars in Kinoura.
Omishima is the third stop along the Shimanami Kaido bridges from Imabari, and the northernmost Shimanami island in Ehime prefecture. Omishima’s total population is close to 8,000. It has two subdivisions: Omishima and Kamiura towns.
Location / Access / Transport
- Bus: Shimanami Liner buses leave for Omishima from in front of Imabari Station around once every hour. They stop next to the interchange in Kamiura and continue across the island to the end of the line in Omishima town. To/From Matsuyama – 4 buses a day.
- Car: accessible from Imabari and Honshu via the Shimanami Kaido bridges. Remember that you will have to pay tolls on the bridges.
- Ferry: Ferries from Imabari Sanbashi to Munakata Port. Ferries from Mori Port to Hiroshima prefecture.
Tourism / Festivals / Highlights
- Oyamazumi Shrine – one of the oldest shrines in western Japan. Dedicated to the god of the mountains and the sea. Oyamazumi Shrine Treasury Museum comprises three museums – the National Treasure Museum, Shiyoden Museum, and Omishima Marine Museum. The National Treasure Museum houses Japan’s largest collection of samurai armor and swords.
- Omishima Art Museum – a collection of paintings by mostly contemporary Japanese artists.
- Tokoro Museum – tiny but gorgeous contemporary sculpture gallery with an open air front and stunning sea views.
- Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture – small museum in a surreal, futuristic building dedicated to the work of an eminent Japanese architect.
- Ken Iwata Mother and Child Museum – open-air sculpture gallery featuring mostly, you guessed it, mothers and children.
- Tatara Shimanami Park – the Roadside Station near the interchange that offers a fantastic view of the Tatara Great Bridge. Souvenir shop, restaurant, mikan ice cream, small beach.
- Otaue-sai/Nukiho-sai – rice planting ceremony at Oyamazumi Shrine. Dates change according the lunar calendar, but it’s usually mid-June. The Shinto ritual involves a sumo wrestler performing a fight against an imaginary rice spirit, and 16 young girls in white kimono with red sashes.
- Autumn Festival – Omishima also has a huge Autumn Festival that includes the whole island! It begins at the Oyamazumi Shrine and includes many villages toting their local Danjiri all throughout the island with singing, dancing and plenty of food.
The island has several small restaurants offering ramen, curry, tempura and the like. You’ll find a few on the main road near Oyamazumi Shrine.
There’s also a nice café in the Roadside Station near the Interchange, which serves great sushi, ramen and other dishes using local produce.
Marumado – is a bakery owned by a young couple who can speak English.
- Daishin – A new cafe that uses wild boar meat in their menu.
- Shishi Kotsu Ramen (猪骨ラーメン) – is, as the name sugests, a wild boar ramen restuarant.
Pit In – is a restaurant in the southern end of the island that’s only open on Saturday and Sunday for lunch. Cute old couple owns it.
- Omishima town has two small supermarkets and a large DIY shop.
- Kamiura town has some small grocery shops and a Circle K convenience store close to the interchange.
- Good farmers’ market at the Roadside Station near the Interchange. Lots of locally-grown fruits and vegetables, as well as homemade jams, pickles and handicrafts.
There are several shops and places to buy little gifts and locally made items that you will not find in the bigger, more popular cities. Take advantage of these cultural treats when you’re out sightseeing and shopping for your friends and family back home.
- Mare Gracia Spa – located in the Itena district, Omishima town. The spa has views over the Inland Sea and has inside and outside salt-water onsens, with a sauna inside too. They also have a little pub to keep you well fed while you relax and enjoy the calm atmosphere.
- Library – small library in Miyaura community center/local government office with some films.
- Shimanami Dome – sports center and onsen located in Kamiura town. Facilities include a swimming pool, weight room, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, and soccer field. Weekly sports classes and occasional community events also held here.
- Cycling – there is a rental place in the Roadside Station near the interchange. Follow the Shimanami Kaido bike route or go exploring on your own.