Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Festive Halloween on Ojika Island

On Halloween, residents of Ojika Island came together to celebrate at a local grocery store completely decked out in a variety of expertly prepared costumes! As I explored, I spotted various cats, a 狐 ("kitsune" fox), a pirate, some ghosts, and a few superheroes such as Iron-Man and Spider-Man!

The adults in the crowd also had impressive outfits, including princesses, and a retro school-girl. The cashier in the grocery store even participated - he wore a SWAT uniform that was very realistic and a little bit terrifying.

While "trick or treating" is a famous holiday tradition in the USA, it isn't a widespread phenomenon in Japan. In fact, Halloween only truly arrived in Japan around twenty years ago when Disneyland held it's first Halloween event.

Since it's more of a niche activity, you won't be able to go "trick or treating" at random houses in Japan. Instead, on Ojika Island, children pick up a map from a friendly witch in a booth that gives them the locations of the homes they can visit for some sweet treats. Japan has adopted the holiday and applied it's own Japanese twist to the festivities.

When all the children receive their maps, they make there way to a kind woman who emerges with a smile and hands out a bag featuring some tasty treats! Even a group of teenagers from the neighbourhood made it out to take part in the fun Halloween activities, and I took part alongside some friends.

To close off the evening, we had a fun party at the Melody Box Karaoke Bar which is near the ferry port of Ojika and has a beautiful view of the ocean. We celebrated with lots of delicious food, and also sang some songs! I even tried to sing a few songs in Japanese, by following along with the hiragana characters but it went but a bit fast for me to read the lyrics. I was still proud that I managed to sort of figure it out and sing some of the Japanese songs!

It's interesting to learn that a holiday such as Halloween, which used to not even be celebrated at all in Japan, has made it's way all the way to such a tiny remote place such as Ojika. Seeing all the adorable children dressed up and excited about their candy brought me back to when I did the same, back in my hometown in California. 

While there are many differences between Ojika, Nagasaki and Petaluma, California, at our core we are all the same. Children the world over will always get excited about the opportunity to dress up and receive permission to receive lots of delicious キャンディー  (candy)!

Ojika, a Japanese 'Cat Island' Featuring Lots of Friendly Furry Faces

On Ojika Island, my morning walk to Goen Island Inn features lots of adorable friendly furry faces.

As I arrive, I notice tiny scruffy Kinako, a small runty orange kitten, snuggling with his friend Naomi right near the doorway. Each time I’ve arrived in the morning since it's gotten a bit colder, I’ve noticed that Kinako is snuggling with a different one of his friends. 

Kinako has a brother named Anko, who is quite a lot bigger than him, and you often see him cuddling with Kinako as well. In Japanese, きなこ “Kinako” means soybean flour, an ingredient that is often used in desserts. あんこ “Anko” is the Japanese word for red bean paste, which is also a delicious dessert ingredient that is popular in Japan.

A few days ago, I spotted Kinako in exactly the same spot giving his friend Peach a massage. Since it’s gotten a bit colder lately, Peach was wearing a fluffy coat, and she was purring loudly in enjoyment.

Pukka is the “boss cat” at Goen Island Inn. He’s absolutely lovely with all of his human friends, always meowing adorably and asking for a few strokes, but since he’s the dominant cat of the group here at the inn he isn’t very nice to any of the cats who dare to try to eat before he does. They’ll probably get more than a “bop” with his paw, it will probably include a few claws and some teeth.

Tama, the black and white friendly fellow, is probably the cuddliest of the bunch. I’ve had many lovely moments with him, as he is completely overwhelmed with happiness if you decide to pet him and give him a few strokes. If you do this, he’ll probably start meowing loudly in appreciation, rub his face all over you, and roll over so you can pet him on his belly too! 

Naomi is a newcomer to the pack. She’s tiny and mainly white, with multicoloured spots, and I first spotted her as she meowed loudly from the top of a concrete fence. She’s a lady of extremes, at times she’s super cuddly and at other times she’s very solitary and prefers to perch herself alone somewhere to feel the ocean breeze.

In terms of food choices, Goen Island Inn’s cats are all extremely spoiled. Unlike back in my homeland of the USA, where dry cat kibble is what most house cats receive, this group of cats gets to eat all the leftover sashimi! Since the inn serves a lot of fish everyday to customers, and there is always a bit leftover, these cats don’t go hungry. In fact, they have so much fish to eat, that sometimes they eat their fill and there is still quite a lot left. A bowl of raw fish with a collection of cats just sitting idly nearby completely satisfied, is not something you see everyday.

Away from the Goen Inn, on a walk around the main street, I regularly see cats roaming the streets and ducking down thin alleyways, alongside beautiful Japanese buildings that take me back to a time long ago. It’s beautiful to realise that no matter where I am in the world, this place will still be rolling along, time passing much more slowly than almost anywhere else, and a few cats probably cuddling on a nearby window-sill. It will always be a peaceful memory to go back to. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Residents of Ojika Come Together for Community Event

On the 28th of October, an exciting event was held on Ojika island as a thank you from a construction company based here called Kadota. This company has found a lot of success here, thanks to the work of the locals, and opportunities found on this island. So, to celebrate the people of Ojika, this company provided free lunch, pastries from the local bakery Cafe Tan Tan, and an entertaining show featuring comedians, a trio of fantastically dressed performers who sang and danced, a Janken (じゃん拳) competition, plus a raffle for plenty of prizes. 

The day began with a line up for some delicious treats, as well as pastries up for grabs. A line of Ojika residents eagerly awaited their tasty bowl of curry with rice, plus some chicken soup. Tables were set up for everyone to have lively conversations while they enjoyed their delicious meal!

Then, after all the food was eagerly gobbled up, the crowd moved into the beautiful auditorium to watch the show. A duo of comedians brought up a young member of the audience named Sora, and drew a caricature of him that was quite accurate and adorable.

We also had the pleasure of watching a dancing and singing trio of women who wore absolutely extravagant outfits and were thoroughly entertaining. I absolutely loved their performance! They really knew how to get the crowd engaged, and the children in the front row were thrilled.

Janken, which is the Japanese version of the same game known as "Rock Paper Scissors" in my hometown of the USA, is taken very seriously here in Japan. The game can be played with multiple participants and is often used in events like this for a fun competition. Here, you found a partner to play with and then slowly, the people who won the game became less and less until the winners were chosen.

Young Sora, with lots of luck on this October afternoon, ended up winning a delicious and valuable prize of tasty wagyu beef! Yum!

The end of the event featured a raffle. Every member of the audience received a slip of paper with a number on it as they entered the room, and various prizes were given out to random individuals. These prizes included boxes of delicious juice, shelves for the home, enough toilet paper to last for at least 6 months, and many other exciting items.

The event was a wonderful gift to the residents of Ojika and everyone had a very good time spending time together, watching lots of exciting entertainment, eating tasty food, and many even having the chance to take an exciting gift home to their families. 

In a slow, sleepy, peaceful town such as this one, big events like this are few and far between so I'm sure it was quite the change of pace for many people who call Ojika home. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

An Afternoon of Yoga on Ojika Island

On the 27th of October, a yoga teacher came to Ojika! We were lucky enough to get a lesson from Natsuco Tagaki inside the Goen Inn, which is accommodation available right alongside the waterfront near the ferry port. You can follow Natsuco on Instagram at @NatsucoTagaki.

Natsuco had come to Ojika to teach a class at the local retirement home, and she was invited by Goen Inn's owner Taiyo to come along to teach a class here while she visited because he knew his wife Akari enjoys yoga!  I also joined the class along with Sarah, a visitor to Ojika from France, and Mirai, a member of Goen Inn's team.

Conveniently enough, I'm planning on going to India later this year to learn more about yoga and go towards my goal of becoming a teacher one day, so it was very interesting to be able to take a class here on Ojika. Plus, Sarah does yoga almost everyday! So, we were enthusiastic students.

After a morning of getting some work done at the inn, relaxed yoga was exactly what we needed to rest and stretch our our tired muscles.

Since my Japanese is not at the level of understanding to allow me to understand an entire yoga class, I was very happy to have my friend Sarah with me. She has studied Japanese for over 5 years and was able to translate some of the more specific instructions for me.

However, yoga is a wonderful thing to try in a new country even if the language barrier makes it a bit of an adventure. Since, if all else fails you can always just mirror what the teacher is showing you! We went through a few sun salutations, and Natsuco helped Sarah out with her headstands (which she has been practicing almost everyday in her time here on the island). It's always impressive to watch an experienced yoga teacher do a pose like the headstand, because it looks so effortless.

After taking a yoga class in Japanese, I'm feeling inspired to learn lots of yoga and うんど "undo" (exercise) related vocabulary, and I'm feeling excited about focusing more on yoga and eventually successfully achieving such a strong, yet relaxed, mind-body connection.

Nozaki island is definitely much more rural and backwards compare city of Japan. There is a concert in Nozaki island 10th of November.

November 10th 2018, we will have concert in Nozaki island.

Nozaki island is definitely much more rural and backwards compare city of Japan.

History or Nozaki is also very deep and sad.

Right now all native people who from Nozaki, left Nozaki island, currently has a population of one, a single truck, one vending machine and lost of ruins and 400 deers and a few boar。

There were three villages in Nozaki island, two villages who followed christianity, underground Christian people lived in two villages. Last village was people who followed Shintoism from a long time ago.

Nozaki concert will be one of church call Nokubi church, people who live Ojika island, they will sing song in Nokubi church on 10th of November.

Such a nice places to go and you will know history of Nozaki island too in this time

This is schedule 
7:25 take boat to Nozaki island
8:00~12:00 free guide tour
12:00~13:00 lunch break
13:15~13:45 Nokubi church concert 
15:10 take boat to Ojika island

Free transportation, Free guide in Nozaki island

Nozaki island can only be reached by boat from Ojika island. There are two departures a day in either direction, the first in the morning and the second in the afternoon. The fare is paid onboard and costs 500 yen one way. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

if you want to feel really Japan, you must visit country side of Japan, specially small island call Ojika island

When you decide to come Japan.

I know you like to see golden route which is Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, like to go big city


if you want to feel really Japan, you must visit country side of Japan.

So where is the best place

Now I am living at Ojika island in Nagasaki. Japan

It's far, far, far from city which take by boat from Sasebo or Fukuoka

This is how to get Ojika island my blog

You will enjoy a relaxing holiday in the rural island of Japan.

Because I will help and make great time of Ojika island.

I can speak English, had experiences of tour guide and bartender

I am Crazy Japanese man ^-^

Let's escape the frantic cities and truly adventure in the culture by meeting the local and experiences of Ojika island and really Japan.

Ojika has so many wonderful things to offer such as locally sourced which fishing, swimming and fresh food, beautiful scenery and communicated local people, drink with us and sing song in Karaoke bar..

100% sure I will help what you like to try and interested, time and budget.

I own the island Ryokan INN call Goen, enjoy our nice Ryokan and try to sleep Japanese style room and futon bed, and dinner is fantastic Japanese Washoku meal.

We have a variety example itineraries about Ojika island what you can do

If you're looking for trip inspiration. if you have any questions or would like to discuss your travel plans further.

Please send me e-mail

This is my information


See you soon

This is Ojika island's PR movie

One of great points of Japan is beautiful in each season.

No life No island

It's getting cold in Ojika island, after rain, after storm.

You will be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of each season in Ojika island

Different experiences and cultures in island life

What do you think?

Would you like to feel rural Japan of Ojika island.

Please any question, let me know

I would like to help you how to get to, what you can do in Ojika island

This is our HP

Friday, October 26, 2018

“Golden Route in Japan”.

I was tour guide for 4 years in Japan

Our company call Venture which we lead passenger from oversea, show all of great places in Japan for two weeks tour.

While I was tour guide, I realized how country side of Japan, our passenger was so impressed about rural of Japan.

That'S why I know Ojika island will be great place to visit and feel rural of Japan

Most of people who from oversea, they like to go Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido, Okinawa, Hiroshima, Takayama and so on.

This is Golden Route


People who come to Japan several time, they like to go more rural of Japan.

Less places to visit country side of Japan

I will try to promote Ojika island as nice places to visit and feel really Japan which is more communicated local.

So what I have to do

How to share of beautiful island call Ojika

Everyday share about information in social network


Continuation is power

I hope I will meet you in Ojika island

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Glimpse Of Island Childhood In Ojika, Nagasaki

On one sleepy afternoon in Ojika, a young girl came to our sharehouse door and told us to join her on an adventure. It seemed to be encased in secrecy, since she kept asking us to plug our ears so as not to hear the whisperings of plans (even though my Japanese is elementary at best, so I'd only understand a very small percentage). We followed her to a group of kids who were holding fishing nets and set off down a dirt pathway into an area that was green and vast, with small streams of water running along the edges of the road. The kids excitedly scooped out large chunks of brown goop from the water, and we quickly realised that their nets were teeming with life.

"Ebi-chan!" one of them shouted, smiling with glee as she took a small shrimp from the pile on the concrete and put it into one of their tiny yellow buckets. The other children sifted through the muddy grass and picked up tiny fish, occasionally shrieking and giggling and putting one in my hand, watching it wriggle around. These tiny fish are called 'Medaka,' めだか (rice fish), and they're actually almost extinct in the mainland, but are plentiful on Japanese islands.

While Ojika Island only has around 2,200 residents, the island has a large population of young children. The school, which is quite large, is home to over 10 students per grade. While the birth rate in Japan is extremely low overall, it is significantly higher in the countryside than in major cities. Many families on Ojika decide to have children, and a lot of them have two or more.

Life on Ojika has changed throughout the years, with the introduction of the internet. Before the worldwide web, there was much more mystery attached to the vast majority of the world for young people here, beyond the tiny island they called home. With the world only available through the TV, without any Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, it became a magnetic pull for any young person to leave.

Back in the day, teenagers were teased and told that they should leave Ojika in order to see the vast open world. Today, however, life on Ojika seems more and more inviting. Without the added allure of a lack of contact with the outside world, Ojika is no longer quite as isolated. Instead, children are now encouraged to stay and taught about the variety of options they have to create a rewarding island life.

After finishing school, most teenagers leave Ojika to attend university or explore the world. There is a local colloquial expression, "U Turn" to describe the young adults who decide to return to Ojika after finishing their studies, or traveling adventures. "I Turn," is used to describe residents of Ojika who come from elsewhere in Japan and decide to call Ojika home.

In fact, the Japanese government, fearful of falling populations in the many islands and vast countryside areas (only 400 of the 4,000 islands of Japan are currently populated) creates incentives for individuals and families to move to countryside. Many individuals who take a multiple year contract decide to open up a business, with support from the government as well. With a more relaxing, less overwhelming atmosphere, more community, nature and less concrete - it's no wonder many city dwellers who try out island life decide to stay.

Personally, after living in Tokyo for 6 months and coming to Ojika, being here is a breath of fresh air. I can imagine that the children who experience such an open and relaxed childhood would itch to experience new things. However, as many people say: the grass is always greener on the other side.

After we spent some time fishing, we were led down a small pathway to where there was a pond and tunnel. The kids then had lots of fun splashing us and trying to push us into the water (I had to say だめ, 危ない "Dame, abunai," "No please, that's dangerous!" because I was a bit nervous about hitting the rocks on the bottom). We mostly had to communicate with the children using an iPhone and Google Translate, which was a funny experience.

Then, they all convinced us to give them piggy-back rides all the way home, where they began doing cartwheels and wrestling with eachother.

The main thing I learned from an afternoon adventuring with the children of Ojika is that even though I couldn't understand most of what they were saying, and they come from such a different background to my are always kids. It made me think about how as I've grown up, I've become less accustomed to spontaneous messy adventures featuring mud, rocks, ending up soaking wet, and lots of laughter.

While many would say that their fear about living on a quiet, sparsely populated island is lack of things to do, they surely didn't think of pond fishing and cartwheels, which make much better memories than sitting behind a screen. The truth is, while we've all become accustomed to constant entertainment featuring technology, and $20 ticket prices...there's always fun to be had, and we don't actually have to look that far for it. Perhaps we all could learn something from them!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ojika, a Japanese island where family-run shops replace convenience stores

If you've ever explored the largest cities in Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto, you'll know that convenience stores (or コンビニ "combini" as they're often called by locals) are a quintessential part of Japanese city life. You can always know that you have the option to get up at 2 AM and grab a snack or alcoholic beverage, and it gives the cities an "always moving" sense of buzzing energy.

However, the slow life of Ojika, a small island in the Goto archipelago off of Nagasaki, is relaxed and peaceful in comparison. You have the chance to go back in time to a period where big companies running thousands of 24/7 shops was not the norm. Here, family and community are everything in day-to-day life and the community of shops is just the same.

 While convenience stores are not found on this island, you'll have no shortage of food. The island features various grocery stores, restaurants, a cafe, bakery with fresh bread, and a friendly spot to grab an ice cream or 肉まん "nikuman" steamed meat bun. The best part of all these shops is there is no aura of capitalism or big business anywhere to be found. On Ojika, you know that the money you're spending is going directly to a person with a family, and probably a few adorable children.

If you walk down the main road of Ojika you'll pass the tourist information center that also features a cafe. Here, you can inexpensively grab a coffee or Calpis, or a bowl of 牛乳丼 "gyuu-don," a bowl of rice topped with meat cooked in a delicious sauce. Right along the harbour there are also multiple grocery stores, where you can buy all your essential daily necessities and also a few treats as well!

If you're looking for a spot to sit and soak in some lovely vibes, then Cafe Tan Tan is exactly where you should head off to on Ojika. Tan Tan is a bakery and cafe where you can grab a coffee, tea, cookie, or cake and enjoy the adorable decor while reading a book.

There's also a small bakery on Ojika that bakes fresh bread daily. The one problem is that since this bakery is the only one of it's kind on Ojika island, the bread is in high demand! So, your best bet is to arrive early in the day in order to get your pick of all the various flavors. When I went there, I chose a cheese bread because it was fresh and steaming out of the oven, and the cheese was all stretchy and perfect. おいしい! ("Oishii,"  Delicious!)

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to score a delicious ice cream from the grocery store closest to the ferry terminal that was shaped like a sweet potato, and looked extremely realistic. The outer layer was made of a sweet potato flavoured ice cream cone shell, and the inside was mashed candied sweet potato with vanilla ice cream! I ate it right along the water next to the boats, as a fisherman readied his boat to head out in the afternoon.

Discovering various new flavours of ice cream and various snack foods is a fun adventure in Japan, you're sure to be surprised and try many new things even if you can't read what's on the package!

A Magical Matsuri Experience on Ojika Island

If it wasn't enough of a beautiful adventure to emerge off a ferry at 4:30 AM, on a tiny Japanese island called Ojika (a member o...