When you’re planning on traveling to Japan, Ojika Island might not be the first destination you think of. But it is such an authentic, charming, and relaxing place that I left wondering why I hadn’t visited it earlier.
A very peculiar atmosphere welcomes you as soon as you get to Ojika and you can’t explain what makes you feel so good: is it the people’s warmth and friendliness, or the beautiful landscape?
One thing is for sure, if you’re visiting Ojika, you’re in for a wonderfully relaxing treat, a nice break, and a chance to enjoy the simple pleasures of life in a typical Japanese lifestyle.
Without further ado, here’s how you can get to Ojika and where you can stay. We will then look at the culinary specialties of the island and cover the most interesting places to visit in Ojika.
How To Get To Ojika
Ojika is located in Nagasaki prefecture and you will have to take a ferry to get there. To do so, you have 3 options, you can take a ferry from:
- Fukuoka (Hakata harbor), a 5-hour trip,
- Sasebo Port on the ferry Inori, a 3-hour trip,
- Sasebo Port on the Big Earth or the Sea Queen, a 1.5 to 2-hour trip.
As for departure times, there is only one ferry that leaves Fukuoka at 11:45 pm and arrives at 4:40 am.
There is a more frequent ferry service from Sasebo and here are the schedules for departures and returns.
Wondering how to get around the island? The best thing to do is to rent a bike. You can do that as soon as you arrive on the island, at the port of Ojika. Renting an ordinary bike costs 1000 yen a day. However, Ojika is a pretty steep island, so I recommend you rent an electric bike for 2000 yen a day.
Where to stay in Ojika?
Still wondering where to stay in Ojika? Look no further than a Kominka! It is a traditional Japanese wooden house that looks a bit like a family-size ryokan. In Ojika, several Kominka have been renovated by the famous Japanologist Alex Kerr and the results are absolutely sublime!
The experience of a Kominka is, by itself, reason enough to go to Ojika. You can stay there and enjoy the comfort of a traditional house. Curious to see what a Kominka in Ojika looks like? Let’s take a virtual tour of the Oyake Kominka:
There are several Kominka you can rent in Ojika and each one has its unique appeal. To book one, have a look here.
What To Eat In Ojika: The Local Specialties
One of Ojika’s most popular specialties is Kankoro Mochi. A mochi, traditionally, is a cake made of rice, and Kankoro Mochi’s main ingredient is sweet potato. They are found all over the island and are usually cut into strips and then dried in the sun.
Many families make them every year so that they can send Kankoro Mochi to their family and friends. Don’t hesitate to buy some in Ojika, it makes for a great breakfast.
Peanuts are another specialty in Ojika and you can eat them as they are or in ice cream form. You can also find delicious peanut tofu there.
Fishing is one of the main activities of the inhabitants of Ojika. Fish is, therefore, a staple in their diet and it is consumed dried, raw in sashimi, fried, etc.
What To Do In Ojika – The 10 Best Activities
Let’s find out more about the best spots to visit in Ojika. I recommend you stay about 3 days on the island if you want to visit its main attractions and get the best out of everything.
1. The Old Town
Let’s start right away in the old town of Ojika (exact location). There is something about this town that is beyond time. The villagers there are charming and live a simple and quiet life. Here, community, sharing, and mutual support are very important values.
Need a coffee break? Go to the charming to to na café located here. They have delicious cakes and Misuzu-san, the owner, is adorable!
As you wander around the city, you may come across Jimpei-san, the island’s smoked fish specialist!
If you’re nice, he will show you how he prepares smoked fish. I tasted it and I can tell you it is delicious! Here is a picture of the fish before and after smoking.
Let’s get even more vintage and visit Momoko-san who owns an old printing press called Ojikappan, located here.
To this day, Momoko and her father continue to print documents by hand, placing letters manually, one at a time.
You will probably come across Jizo, those Buddhist statues scattered around the streets of the old city. Here is what they look like.
2. Chinokoujima Shrine
This is one of my favorite places in Ojika! Chinokoujima Shrine is located on the eastern part of the island (exact location here) and has beautiful stone torii facing the sea.
For the record, Chinokoujima has a twin shrine (Okinokoujima) on the island of Nozaki, just opposite Ojika.
3. Kakinohama Beach
Kakinohama beach (exact location here) is one of the most popular beaches on the island and it is rather crowded in summer. Unfortunately, we were there in autumn so it was too cold to swim there. That’s a good reason to go back to Ojika though. The water is an irresistible crystal-clear turquoise blue!
4. Goryodaki Beach
Goryodaki Beach (exact location here) is less known than Kakinohama but is just as beautiful, if not more! It is located in a large cove so the water there is very calm. It’s an ideal place to swim and sunbathe in peace and quiet.
5. Beach Clean-up
Located between Japan, South Korea and China, Ojika’s beaches receive a lot of marine waste. Therefore, cleaning them has become a necessity on the island.
If you want to contribute, you can buy this nice bag (picture above) at the port. It will be a great souvenir and the profits will be used to clean up the beaches. You can of course join the locals and use your bag to pick up trash.
The bag you’ll buy is made from recycled old, non-operational fishing boats’ flags.
6. Chojuji Temple
Looking for some peace and spirituality? Go to Chojuji where you can meditate or learn how to make a rock garden with a Buddhist monk.
Check out the huge dragon at the ceiling. Isn’t that amazing?
7. The Fujimatsu Restaurant
If you want to enjoy delicious local dishes in a traditional Japanese atmosphere, the Fujimatsu is the right restaurant to try out. In addition to its excellent cuisine, the setting is refined and very relaxing.
8. Take A Cooking Class With A Local Family
It’s your turn to cook! Terumi-san was our chef of the day and she taught us how to prepare tempura, sushi and sesame tofu. A real treat!
Terumi-san and her husband are local farmers who love to welcome visitors and teach them how to cook. It is a fun experience not to be missed!
9. The Madara Island Pothole
Madara Island is connected to Ojika by a bridge. There’s a strange spot you can visit in Madara: its pothole. There’s a natural phenomenon during which water streams transform a rock into a smooth ball and Madara has one of the largest potholes in the world.
10. Sunset On Madara
Since Madara Island is located west of Ojika, it is the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset. Here is a place where you can enjoy an absolutely gorgeous view!
You can even see the small islands around Ojika from up high if you visit this observatory.
Last but not least, here’s a beautiful orange sky to wrap up this travel guide of Ojika Island. I was pleasantly surprised by Ojika and I’m really looking forward to going back there. In addition to its beautiful scenery, there is something about the island that makes you feel welcome as soon as you get there. But don’t take my word for it! Go there and find out for yourself. 🙂
PS: A big thank you to Victoria from the Ojika tourist office by the way. She’s been a great and passionate guide. ARIGATO !