Nagoya Area Guides: Sakushima, Aichi Prefecture
Sakushima has become increasingly popular after a series of modern art installations and sculptures were commissioned and located around the island, part of a project called ArtPlan21 to regenerate the island beginning in 2001. This recalls the art works on Naoshima in the Inland Sea, though the pieces on Sakushima are by less well-known artists.
Sakushima attracts a mostly young crowd who usually cycle around the art spots on rental bicycles. Although most visitors are day-trippers there are a number of ryokan to stay and enjoy the excellent seafood, especially the island's specialties of octopus and fugu (blowfish).
If you are coming by public transport some planning is necessary and the best way to visit Sakushima is by car or rental car, leaving your vehicle at Isshiki (一色) near Nishio (西尾) on the mainland. There's a popular fish market here where you can lunch on some delicious sushi before catching the boat over to Sakushima.
Boats arrive from Isshiki Port at both West Port and East Port on Sakushima. These are the two main settlements on the island.
Most visitors hire their rental bicycles at either West Port or East Port and cycle around to visit the art installations on a stamp rally: The most impressive artworks are Hirune House (Nap House), Kamome no chushajo (Seagull Carpark), East House and Apollo.
Pick up a pictorial map (in Japanese) at either of the ports and enjoy touring the tranquil and picturesque island either on foot or by bicycle. Sakushima has the clearest water for swimming in Aichi Prefecture and there are good beaches at Shirohama near West Port, Shigake Beach, Tenshin no hama Beach and the Oura Bathing Beach (Oura Kaisui-yokujo).
There is a number of small, local temples and shrines located mostly near the East Port.
Amidaji Temple 阿弥陀寺 is the best-known temple on the island, and features a charming old smiling Buddha statue that is a designated prefectural cultural asset. Amidaji is a 3-minute walk from where the ferry docks.
Sankaku (サンカク "Triangle") by the artist Ben Nagaoka (b.1970) is a modern take on a shrine: a triangular concrete structure containing a seated Buddha, and with a slit directly aligned with the rising sun. Sankaku is at the tip of the peninsula just east of where the ferry docks, and near where the concrete walkway over to tiny Tsutsujima Island (nicknamed "Bentenjima") begins.
For hikers, the northern coast is the most remote. Scattered throughout the island are bamboo forests and pockets of camellia, plum and Japanese wild radish (hamadaikon).
Sakushima has a number of festivals throughout the year including a taiko festival in October, the Yokaku Matsuri at Hakken Jinja on January 8 where the character for "devil" (鬼) is painted on to large kites and flown to the winds in a festival dating back to the Edo Period and Obon dances around the 14-15 August. The dancing takes place in and around Sounji Temple near the West Port.
Sakushima Transport - Getting to Sakushima
There are Meitetsu ferry connections to Sakushima's West and East Ports from Isshiki. Boats leave Isshiki Port at 6.30am, 7.40am, 9.30am, 11.30am, 1.40pm, 3.50pm and 5.50pm.
Boats back to the mainland leave from the East Port, calling at the West Port seven minutes later. Boats leave the East Port on Sakushima for Isshiki at 7am, 8.30am, 10.10am, 12.30pm, 2.50pm, 5.15pm and 6.20pm. The journey takes about 20 minutes by express boat.
In the high season of July 18 to August 18 boats leave Isshiki Port at 6.30am, 7.40am, 9.30am, 11am, 12.15pm, 1.40pm, 3.50pm and 5.50pm returning at 7am, 8.30am, 10.10am, 11.40am, 12.50pm, 2.50pm, 5.15pm and 6.20pm.
From Nagoya Meitetsu Station, Kanayama Station or Jingu-mae Station take a Meitetsu train to Nishio (50 minutes). From Nishio Station there are buses to Isshiki Port at 8.40am, 10.15am, 12.45pm and 2.45pm. The journey takes about 30 minutes. Boats from Isshiki Port to Nishio Station depart at 9.18am, 11.05am, 1.23am and 3.35pm. Alternatively you can take the train to Kira Yoshida Station from Nagoya or Gamagori. From Kira Yoshida there are Friend (ふれんど) buses to Taihobashi (大宝橋) from where it is a 2km walk to the ferry port for express boats to Sakushima Island.
Single adult fares on the express ferry to Sakushima from Isshiki are 820 yen for adults and 410 yen for children up to high school age. Pre-elementary school kids travel free. Isshiki Port (Tel: 0563 72 8284; East Port Tel: 0563 79 1006; West Port Tel: 0563 79 1002)
There are a number of ryokan, minshuku and hotels on Sakushima congregated around East Port including Sazanami (Tel: 79 1234), Ichibei (Tel: 79 1103), Sakushimakan (Tel: 79 1007), Suzukiya Ryokan (Tel: 79 1221), Yukiya (Tel: 79 1020), Chidori (Tel: 79 1008) and Maruhachi (Tel: 090 9026 4471),
Sakushima Tourist Association: 0563 79 1427
sakushima.com (In Japanese)
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