Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum

Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum and Hekifu Kan Museum 西ノ島ふるさと館

Jake Davies

A short walk from the ferry port in Beppu on Nishinoshima is the Nishinoshima Furusato Kan, the Local History and Folklore Museum. Local history museums in Japan can be a pretty hit or miss affair, with some being excellent and other not really worth visiting, and this one I would rate a little above average.

Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands, Shimane.
Exterior Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands
Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands, Shimane.
Display of traditional fishing boat and gear, Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands

Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum

Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum is not very big but the displays are well laid out and informative. There is one room of the obligatory archaeological finds - people have inhabited the Oki Islands for millennia and obsidian from nearby Dogo was traded more than 30,000 years ago.

Being an island, fishing and the sea have been crucial for the inhabitants, and one room has displays of boats and traditional fishing equipment.

Another room has tools and clothing and other articles from the daily life of the islanders - no samurai armour or geisha kimonos here - but the brightest and most colourful room is the one devoted to the unique festivals and dances of the island.

If you are not lucky enough to be on the island at the rare times, in some cases only once every two years, when events such as the Shaara-bune, with its decorated boats, or the Shuhaira dances with its unusual headgear, or any kagura are being performed, at least here you can get a glimpse and possibly be intrigued enough to plan a return visit to the island.

Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands, Shimane.
Model of decorated boat used in Shaara-bune festival, Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands
Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands, Shimane.
Traditional clothing from Nishinoshima, Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands

Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum
56-10 Beppu, Nishinoshima-cho, oki-gun, Shimane 684-0302
Tel: 08514-7-8877
From April to October, open 9am to 5pm
Entry 300 yen for adults, 200 yen for students, 150 yen for children
Or a combination ticket with entry to the nearby Hekifu-Kan Museum for only 400 yen.

Nishinoshima Folklore & History Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands, Shimane.
Curator explaining a painting at the Hekifu-kan Museum, Nishinoshima, Oki Islands

Hekifu-Kan Museum

For a thousand years the Oki Islands were used as a place of exile for those who fell from favor with those in power.

Records indicate that up to a thousand individuals were at some point exiled here, with two emperors being the most famous.

It is believed that on the hillside above the museum is the site where the second of these two emperors, Emperor Go-Daigo, resided during his exile. He was exiled here in 1331 after his attempt to overthrow the Kamakura military government failed.

However, unlike the previous emperor exiled to the Okis, Go-Toba, who ended up dying while in  exile, Go-Daigo managed to escape after less than two years and returned to the mainland and led what is now known as the Kenmu Restoration. His rule was however only to last a short while as the political turmoil continued and he was forced to flee to Yoshino while a new Shogun, Takauji Ashikaga put a new emperor on the throne in Kyoto and for 50 years Japan had ostensibly two courts and emperors.

The Hekifu-Kan Museum is quite small and does not contain much more than some large paintings. On the hillside above is a monument where it is believed Go-Daigo lived. If you have a particular interest in imperial history or in that particular time period in Japanese history then it may be worth a visit.

Hekifu-Kan Museum
275 Beppu. Nishinoshima-cho, Oki-gun, Shimane 684 0302
Tel: 08514-7-8556

From April to October, open 9am to 5pm
Entry 300 yen for adults, 200 yen for students, 150 yen for children

Or a combination ticket with entry to the nearby Furusato-Kan Museum for only 400 yen.

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 fast ferry.
Read more about access to the Oki Islands and getting around the islands.

Useful Oki Island Resources

Map of the Oki Islands


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