Saturday, March 30, 2019

Nosaki Island

You heard about the church on Nosaki Island and are considering to visit the island close to Ojika? Here´s my experience on Nosaki. I can tell you already, there´s a lot more to this mystical place than only the world heritage church...
To get to Nosaki island, you will need to take a small ferry from Ojika port at 7:20 am. You will pay a fee of 500 yen per person once you are on the boat. The ride is about 20 minutes long and from the boat you will already get a nice view on Nosaki and get a first glimpse of the big stone tori of the Oki no kojimajinja shrine.

When you arrive on Nosaki island, you will join a quick introduction in the "visitercenter", where they tell you not to feed the deers an to "beware of the wild boars and snakes".  After that you are free to explore the island on your own.
First, we went to the now abandoned houses of kyu-nozakishuraku, the former village on Nosaki.

(a deer standing in between the ruins of a former house)

There you can visit the house of the last monk on Nozaki, the only building that is still fully standing.
We followed a group of tourists to the kitasakitenbojo, a great viewing spot. The surrounding is quite bizarre; it reminds of some sort of red savanna. You can really see that the island has a volcanic origin.

Next we started our hike to the kojimajinja shrine even though the guy at the visitercenter did not recommend to go, since they do not take care of the path leading there anymore. Against our expectations, the hike was doable and it took us 1 and 1/2 hours to get to the shrine. The path is leading you through the woods, where you will see many shy deers and passes by the top of the hiratake mountain, where you can peek through the top of the trees to see Ojika island from above.

(the path reminded us of the movie `my neighbour totoro`)

When we arrived at the shrine, we were surprised to find a group of japanese locals, that told us they were in charge of documenting the age of the different parts of the shrine to make it easier to take care of and restore them.  You can clearly see that the place has not been taken care of well in the last few years, but it is still an impressive view. We then climbed up some rocks and sat down on a huge one just below the stone tori to have the delicious sandwiches that Ume-san, the cook of the island Inn, had prepared for us. We had the best view over Ojika island!

( view over Ojika from above the shrine)

(perfect picknick spot)

After our little break, we walked up to fully see the stone tori. Apparently it is not clear if the tori was build by the islanders or if it was formed naturally. Either way, it is really impressive.
To go back to the port it only took us one hour, since the path is going down most of the time if you come this way.

(the stone tori)

Now it was finally time to see that mystical church. After a 20 minutes walk, the red stone building appeared behind former terrace rice fields. We were lucky, because right at that moment, the sun decided to peak through the clouds that had been bothering us the entire day.

We sat inside the church, enjoying the silence and letting our minds take us away to the time, where the church was still used.

Stepping outside the church felt like awakening from a dream.

Since we only had about an hour of time left at that point, we decided to visit the beach right beneath the hill on which the church was build. We wandered down the huge sand dunes towards the bright, sandy bay. We passed the time listening to the sound of the waves and eating some snacks.

Then it was time to go back to the port, from which the ferry leaves to Ojika at 3pm.

We still had a bit of time left, so we went to visit the former graveyard of Nozaki on the tip of a cliff.
On the way back by ferry (500 yen fee) we were able to see the white cross on the southern end of the island.
We arrived back on Ojika at around 3:30pm.
What a memorizing trip!


Tuesday, March 26, 2019


〜 An adventure to see the Ojika sunrise 〜

I arrived on Ojika Island excited and ready for two months of what I hoped would be some of the best moments of my 6-month trip across Japan. Instantly welcomed in by Taiyo (who runs Shimayado Goen Inn) and a great gang of other volunteers, I was buzzing to begin my life as an islander in this picturesque little paradise. 
That evening at Karaoke (of course), I found out that we were expected to start work at 7.45, which was a slight shock to the system as I had gotten into a very lazy routine of sleeping late and waking up even later. But the next day I got up, drank a few strong cups of coffee and managed the first full day at work- cleaning rooms, washing up, and doing a lot (a lot!!) of hoovering*. The work was fun and not too strenuous, but I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day; not used to waking up early, my body was knackered and a bit confused about what was going on. 

*Hoovering is British English for vacuuming. アメリカ人が使うvacuumingという言葉はイギリス英語でhooveringですー(勉強になりましたね^.^)


Suddenly, I hear from the other volunteers that they are planning to wake up around 5.30 the following morning to see the sunrise. It only being my second proper day on the island, I was pretty hesitant; but as we were all staying in the same room, I was very likely to be woken up as they left, AND I knew deep down that I should really make the effort to witness something so beautiful.... So I said I would join the gang on their adventure. 


Somehow the four of us all managed to get up, and we began our walk to Kuroshima (where we would get the best view according to the locals). At first, we thought the clouds might be a little too low to see anything (can you imagine!!), but we soon realised that we had just arrived a little early. The sky was already a beautiful array of pastel colours, and so for a while we just enjoyed the scenery... eagerly awaiting what was going to come next.

なんとかして5時半に起きて、地元の人がオススメした黒島 に歩き始めた。着いた時、低く垂れ込めた雲が多すぎて何も見えないかもと思ったーそれだったらやばいね!!でも、たぶんもうすぐ見えると思って、日の出前のきれいなピンクと青い空をゆっくり見た。

Also, it was time for a little snack break... Bring out the chocopie!!!! 


Very happy bunnies 〜  食べる時は幸せね
Choco-pie, Choco-pie, We Love Choco-pie!

Snacks finished, we waited some more...


Then slowly and suddenly, a beautiful red light began to emerge, perfectly over the peak of an island mountaintop. 


The entire sky changed colour, and......


Sugoooooiiiiii------ The sun rose up from behind the mountain and spread its orangey-pink glow across the morning sky. It was easy to see why Japan was called The Land of the Rising Sun, it was just gorgeous.


After gazing in awe for a while (and taking a lot of pictures) we decided to head back home, very proud of ourselves for making the effort, and still beaming from the beauty we had just seen. 


Yayy we did it!! (Can you tell I was tired though???)
It was a really lovely start to our day, and I hated to admit that missing those two extra hours of sleep was so worth it. Just look at the smile on Kenichi's face????


If you're ever in Ojika, you really should make the effort to see the sunrise, you won't regret it! 


GO TEAM! <3 


How to explore Ojika

Ojika is quite a small Island. On my first day on Ojika I almost went all the way around the island in only two hours. But as I found out soon enough, there is an endless number of new and exciting sights to discover on Ojika. So here is my seven step guide on how to explore Ojika:

Step one: Get yourself one of those maps that they offer in the Shimayadogoen Island Inn. The map helps you to get an overview of Ojika and shows you where to find the most famous places on the island. My tip when searching for where you are on the map is to use the bus stops on Ojika for orientation. A good idea is also to take a pen with you when exploring the island, to personalize your map and mark new favourite spots that you discovered.

Step two: Pack your bag. I highly recommend taking a drink and some snacks with you so you can enjoy those once you found the perfect spot to sit down and take in all that surrounds you. If you like photography, don`t forget to take your charged camera with you. You`ll have plenty of moments you´ll want to be able to look back at. You can also buy a sketchbook in Ojika´s Stationary store and take some pens with you to capture a nice view. Taking a book with you is also a great idea. You might also take a towel to either lay down on or, in combination with your swimwear, to go for a swim at one of Ojika´s beautiful beaches.

Step three: Choose whether you want to go on foot or take a bike from the Shimayadogoen Island Inn. The bikes are perfect if you plan on going a bit further.

Step four: Start exploring! Don´t be afraid to choose small and unknown paths! As said in the beginning; Ojika is quite a small island so it is nearly impossible to get lost. And if it happens, there will always be some friendly islanders around that will help you to find your way back. The small paths will lead you to the most interesting places!

Step five: Take a break at a nice place. Have some kinkan that you found on the way or the snacks you bought earlier in one of the food shops near the port. Read, draw, observe, relax, dream, enjoy.

Step six: Collect something on your way. Whether that is a nice flower, seashells or a four-leaf clover... It is nice to have something small that reminds you of your trip later.

Step seven: Find your way back to your starting point! You successfully got to know Ojika a bit better. Share your memories with someone :)


                                                              Step four: small paths...

                                                             step six: collect something.

Une journée tranquille sur l'île d'Ojika

Ojika est, bien entendu, une île magnifique. Malgré sa petite taille, elle regorge de paysages bucoliques. Ma première réaction en arrivant ici était qu'il fallait que je me dépêche de tout voir, de fond en comble, de la plus lointaine plage au sommet le plus élevé. Mais c'était sans doute ma plus grande erreur. Arrivant de Paris puis de Tokyo, j'ai toujours eu l'habitude des grandes villes et de l'état permanent de rush qu'elles induisent. À Ojika, au contraire, il n'y a aucun besoin de se dépêcher. Je dirai même qu'il ne faut absolument pas se dépêcher! Apprécier un après-midi tranquille sur le port ou la plage avec des amis est sans doute le meilleur moyen d'apprécier et de comprendre Ojika.
Voici donc quelques idées pour apprécier autrement l'île, à un rythme autre qu'un touriste ordinaire.

Faire la sieste avec les nombreux chats de l'île
Les chats sont nombreux à Ojika. Si nombreux que leur paresse est contagieuse. Pourquoi pas ne pas faire une petite sieste digestive avec un chat sur les genoux? 

Chercher les plus beaux coquillages
Sur l'île, certaines plages regorgent de coquillages. Certains sont d'une taille importante, d'autres d'une forme inconnue à nous autres français. Si vous êtes des habitués de la chasse aux porcelaines sur les plages de Bretagne, n'hésitez pas! 

Lire près de la mer
Lire près de la mer est un classique des vacances d'été. Cependant sur la petite île d'Ojika, la plupart des plages sont désertes. Ainsi, les seuls sons que vous entendrez seront le bruit régulier des vagues et les cris des oiseaux. Parfait pour la lecture! 

Se relaxer dans un café
Si, après une longue marche, l'envie se fait de faire une pause, pourquoi ne pas s'arrêter dans un café? Au port d'Ojika, deux addresses vous permettent de vous asseoir autour d'une boisson chaude et d'une patisserie. Tantan, avec un style européen, sert de superbes frappés ainsi que de délicieux gateaux. Coji Coji Pan est spécialisé dans la fabrication de An Pan, un pain fourré à la pâte d'haricots rouges. En effet, aucun Starbuck's ou Tully's sur la petite île! Mais ici, plus qu'un café, vous serez accueilli avec un grand sourire et des mets faits maison. 

Partir à la chasse aux trèfles à quatre feuilles 
Enfin, c'est sur Ojika que j'ai redécouvert la chasse aux trèfle à quatre feuilles. Quand j'y repense, cela doit bien faire dix ans que je n'avais pas réessayer. Profiter du soleil assis dans l'herbe et goûter au plaisir simple de trouver un trèfle à quatre feuille, est-ce que ça ne serait pas ça les vacances?

Cette liste n'est définitivement pas exhaustive. Ojika est bien entendu une île magnifique à explorer, mais n'oubliez de profiter du calme doux de la campagne !


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Karaoke カラオケ

For the European, this word brings to mind drunken middle-aged people tunelessly screeching out the cheesy tracks of their youth on a Saturday night... 

Whereas in Japan, the birthplace of Karaoke, the experience couldn't be more different. Karaoke is a cheap, fun and comfortable form of entertainment that anyone can do! Young or old, family or individual, virtuoso or novice. Start your singing career at any karaoke bar or chain across Japan. 

Even on a small island like Ojika, households and colleagues will passionately perform their favourite songs any day of the week at The Melody Box. Expect a swirling light display, dancing and tambourine accompaniment. Who doesn't love blasting out Lady GaGa with their friends?

-C E-

Friday, March 8, 2019

YOUは何しに日本へ?Yū wa Nani Shi ni Nippon e?

In Japan, many people tend to watch TV while eating lunch. But which show is the best? For foreigners who do not speak Japanese or only on a basic level, it is difficult to find a program they can kind of understand and laugh about. I had the same problem. But on a normal Saturday in Ojika, I discovered a show that both Japanese and foreigners can enjoy together. 

The show is called "YOUは何しに日本へ?Yū wa Nani Shi ni Nippon e?" and takes place mainly in Tokyo. A team of Japanese interviewers walks around various airports and cities in Japan and asks foreign looking people "Why did you come to Japan?" and some other questions. They then attempt to follow them on their journeys around Japan in a process called mitchaku shuzai (密着取材, lit. "close-contact reporting").
Because foreign people tend to speak English and Japanese people tend to speak Japanese, it is easy for both viewers to understand the topic of the discussion. This show mainly works with Japanese subtitles. So when somebody talks in a foreign language, it is not drowned and easy understandable.

I highly recommend everybody to take a look at this show and enjoy its content. It can bring up a topic you can talk with the people you meet on your trip about. And the show itself brings so much joy!

- CH -

Thursday, March 7, 2019









Wednesday, March 6, 2019

泳 : Spring is coming, let's go swimming!

I love this period between winter and spring, where you are not totally confident that winter is behind and that spring has taken over...

You can feel it coming through many little signs: the wind getting warmer, the flowers blooming on every corner, the increasing number of people staying outside, the sun shining... 

This time, we felt that it was real: Spring is here, let's go swimming!
We took our bikes and headed to Kakinohama Beach to enjoy our first swim of the year!
The water was fresh but it felt so relaxing to swim, to let the freshness embrace our bodies and to be in the middle of this beautiful blue water.

泳 : the Kanji for swimming is made on the left of "water", with the splash of three little drops, and on the right of the kanji for "eternity", I find it so poetic, and indeed, this first swim in Ojika will be engrained for eternity in my memory.


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...