Japan Travel Guides: The Jurassic Coast of Dogo, Oki Islands, Shimane Prefecture
The Jurassic Coast of Dogo 島後海岸
While the island of Dogo, the largest of the Oki Island group in the Sea of Japan off the coast of Shimane Prefecture, has some Jurassic coast, it also has Triassic, the geologic period that came before the Jurassic, and also Cretaceous, which came after.
In fact it is said that the whole geological history of what is now Japan can be studied here in the Oki Islands whose origins can be traced back 260 million years to the time of the "super continent" Pangea.
With its wealth of geological diversity it is not surprising that the Oki Islands were registered as a UNESCO Global Geopark and part of the Daisen-Oki National Park, so obviously for those with an interest in geology, a trip to the Okis is a must do, but for the rest of us what it means is that there are some fantastic coastal landscapes and views that can be enjoyed from the land or from the sea.
The following is a small selection of what can be seen and enjoyed. The photos start in the south of the island near Saigo and progress in a counter-clockwise direction around the island. Most of the places can be visited by bus, though hire car is the easiest. It is also possible to cycle or even, as I did, walk. It is about 75 kilometers by road to circumnavigate the island though obviously further if you take in detours down to isolated spots.
Though Dogo is basically round in shape and not convoluted like some of the other islands in the group, there are some bays and inlets like this part of the Saigo Bay not far from the main town and port of the island. On calm and sunny days the clear waters are great for swimming and especially snorkelling and scuba diving.
Dog Island (Inujima)
Inujima (Dog Island) is located just off the little fishing village of Oku on the Goka Coast in the south east of Dogo. The lower half of the islet is composed of a kind of rock called Green Tuff, known locally as "Goka Stone", used widely for wall construction. Apparently fossils found in the Green Tuff suggests that it was originally a lake bed. If you walk along the sea wall in Oku village you can see a large, strangely-eroded boulder of Green Tuff, a kind of pale turquoise color. Not far from Oku is the Sasaki Residence, a nice old house open to the public.
Further up the coast is Kuroshima Island, formed during a volcanic eruption about 3 million years ago. You can clearly see the vertical "columns" formed during the cooling of the rock after the eruption.
At the northern end of the little coastal village of Fuse is the Jodogaura Coast, a delightful collection of small coves with islets, rocky beaches, cliffs, and rock formations. There is a trail that runs along the water's edge and another up on the hillside with more expansive views. The village has a family restaurant open in the high season and a minshuku, but most interesting is the little camp-site right above the water. Fairly simple, though with vending machines, toilets, and hot showers, the best thing is that it is free to stay. A great place to watch the sunset.
At the far north of Dogo is the Shirashima Coast, a cape with a series of islands all very white against the blue of the sea and the green of the land. The viewpoints overlooking the area are more than 200 meters above sea level, and if you are coming by local bus, involve a more than a 1 kilometer uphill walk. There are tour boats running out of Nakamura harbour that explore the Shirashima Coast as well as the nearby Noritabana Coast, but the tours are only available for groups who make bookings well in advance.
The north east coast of Dogo, known as the Kumi Coast, has some stunning coastline including the iconic Candle Rock, so named because when the sun sets it looks like a lit candle. There are various viewpoints along the coast, but this is one place where the boat tour is really the best way to go to see the full variety of cliffs, sea caves, rock formations etc. Running in the evenings when the weather and sea conditions allow, a sunset cruise to view Candle Rock is one of the highlights of any trip to Dogo.
Though there are numerous inlets and bays on the Dogo coast, much of the land rises steeply from the sea. Little fishing villages like Kurata pictured here, were long accessible only by boat or by long treks inland and over steep passes. Unlike much of the coast of Japan, there are few roads running directly along the coast. Just south of Kurata is the Yui Maenosu Intertidal Platform and Yui Pond.
The final stop on this brief tour around the coast of Dogo is not a geological feature, though the bay has some great views across the water to the Dozen group of islands. It's the boathouses at Tsuma.
There are other small groups of these traditional boathouses, called Funa-Goya in Japanese, in other fishing villages, but nowhere is there such a large group, especially in such a graceful arc along the rocky beach of the bay. They are also not museum pieces but still in use today.
This is just a small selection of what can be seen of the Dogo coast. You could easily spend a week exploring hidden spots on this remarkable coastline.
Getting Between the Oki Islands
A fairly frequent and fast ferry service connects the three islands of Dozen, but between Dozen and Dogo you need to use the car ferry or jet foil.
Read more about access to the Oki Islands and getting around the islands.
Useful Oki Island Resources
- Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark
- Oki Islands Events Calendar
- Oki Islands Nishinoshima
- Oki Kisen Ferries