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A Day on Ogijima


Today, just a few random pictures I took a little while ago, as I was spending the day on Ogijima:


Fisherman on Ogijima

A fisherman “stranded” on the southern tip of the island. I mean, he was literally stranded there. From where he was, there is no way to walk back to the village or anywhere else. He had been dropped there by someone else on a boat, and if his friend forgets him, he has no other option than sleep there.


Maison de Urushi

Maison de Urushi was closed for renovation on that day.



Mimura’s barn?
(note: as I may have mentioned before, I’m convinced that Kōshun Takami used Ogijima as the template for his fictional island when he wrote Battle Royale, one of the clues is definitely that barn)


Ogijima Countryside

The countryside just out of Ogichō on the way to the lighthouse. For some reason, almost every single time I go to Ogijima, I take a picture from that spot. More or less to see it evolve with time.



Ogijima Soul

 Jaume Plensa’s Ogijima’s Soul


Onba Factory

Can you spot Onba Factory?


Ropes on Ogijima



Rikuji Makabe’s Wallalley


Leaving Ogijima

Time to return to Takamatsu


See you Ogijima

See you soon Ogijima…



23 thoughts on “A Day on Ogijima”

  1. Hi David
    Nice pictures! We returned from Ogijima 2 days ago and think we spoke to that fisherman, he was on the main pier fishing for squid. I think he’s a bit of a loner, he said he either fishes or watches movies on his off day. He was a friendly enough chap.
    We got bitten badly as we farmed sweet potatoes, Mosquitos got us big time but it was fun helping out on the allotments.
    The news is that there are now up to 60 wild boars on the island, a professional hunter was bought to the island to deal with them. He had 3 dogs,, a gun and traps. He caught 1 young boar which ended up being cooked but had one of his dogs killed by another boar. He’s now trying to claim compensation from the islanders.
    We did a bit of fishing but only caught a few small fish, though we got a Young Fugu. A young boy kept it.
    Apparently when the fire that happened a year or so ago started some islanders tried to use a pump and sea water to put it out but the pump was so old it had rotted and didn’t work. It was on tv.
    We’ve been given some Sho Chu called Ogisuisen. I’ve never seen it before.
    Back on the mainland we got around to seeing a few festivals, brilliant.
    Once I’m home I’ll upload pics to Facebook and paste a link if you like.

    1. Hey Norm,
      You were in the area and you didn’t tell? This is not the successful way to share a beer one of those days.
      Yeah, I heard about the boars, although 60 sounds like a big number.
      I didn’t know about Ogisuisen, I’ll need to investigate. 🙂
      Please, do not hesitate to share your pics either here in the comments or on the Facebook page.

      So did you finally get to see the Art on the island?

  2. Hi David
    Yes sorry not to contact you. As usual our trip was a bit chaotic, we left Osaka a bit later than planned as we ended up staying with family unexpectedly. This threw all our dates off by a day or so, we got to Takamatsu late and couldn’t spend time there that we had arranged. We got to Kyoto late etc because of this. We will have to be strict next time and dictate our dates and plans rather than get talked into things we don’t really want to do. We should be back maybe March as mum felt she didn’t want to leave the island.
    The big news is that we have a toilet in the house, it’s not plumbed into the sewer but uses a waste container. It’s a modern flushable one etc so much more comfortable than the hole in the ground we had. Also we had an ipad with us and a wireless WiMAX so we managed to get online, we picked up a signal by the main port and the other port passed the school. Unfortunately as we walked from the main port, passed the graves, mum’s house, we lost the signal but picked it up again once we got to the school. So things are looking up.
    We didn’t see much art we spent a lot of time talking with the old women over food, it was like becoming part of the community. Very enjoyable.

    1. I was not sure which one of those comments you wanted me to publish, so as both contained interesting info, I published both. 🙂

      Glad the house finally has a toilet. That’s an important thing to have in a house 😉

      Yeah, the internet is not always easy to get on the island. I had heard that there were plans to plans to have the island better connected, but I’m not sure where they’re at. I’m not even sure how many internet users are on the island, but it’s definitely something the city will have to do if they want to attract younger people to the island (I also strongly believe that the future of these islands lies in younger people working online… why not even start-up companies there?)

      It’s good to start feeling part of the community. I’m not there yet, as I don’t have family there, but slowly but surely I’m doing my best.

  3. Hi David
    Sorry for the lack of contact, we had to rearrange dates as we got sidetracked by friends and family. We should have been in Takamatsu a day earlier than we actually arrived so I didn’t want to make a plan as ours plans we’re already disrupted making our time keeping unreliable.
    We have seen some of the art on the island, there’s pictures in my facebook albums. We seemed to spend a lot of time in the house chatting to mum’s cousin and some other women islanders. It felt as if I was getting closer to the community even though I don’t speak Japanese. Everyone who arrived brought food they grown, we had to bring half a suitcase of sweet potatoes and corn back to Osaka with us!
    Mum’s cousin was born on Ogijima but now lives near Osaka, her dad’s land is all overgrown on Ogijima she’d like to regenerate it but it would take so much time and effort, so it’s going to waste. Tsubasa’s mum said she wanted to stay on Ogijima rather than return to Osaka, we got a toilet there now so it’s a bit more comfortable. I want to go back in March but I may have to wait until September, I don’t want to leave Japan but the holiday is almost over now. You are a very lucky man.

    1. I know what you mean with the food thing. Today I just returned from Honjima with about 10kgs of sweet potatoes (full story will be told here on the blog sooner or later).
      It’s good if your mother in law moves back to Ogijima for good. Is that a sure thing or just something she’s thinking about doing?
      Let’s hope you return there in March.

  4. Hi David
    Ah the two posts.
    I was using an ipad and thought I’d posted a message using the facebook app, I used Safari/browser the second time I looked at the page and the message didn’t appear nor did the ‘message waiting moderator’ as per usual, so I thought the first hadn’t worked so reposted.
    My mother in law wants to move to the island but she can’t retire just yet, so maybe in about 3-5 years when she’s eligable to retire she can decide for sure. The toilet getting sorted is a boost, we know she didn’t want to go back to Osaka and her cousin being there made her really enjoy her time on the island. Just for your info, the toilet cost £4,000 to get put in and took 1 man 4 days to complete. Very expensive I think!
    Funny you should say ‘attract young people to the island. There was a young boy who came to the house with mum’s cousin. He was visiting his grandmother on the island, he lives in Takamatsu or just outside. I asked how often he came to the island and he said as often as possible as there was nothing to do around Takamatsu. He was about 10 yrs. He actually caught the Fugu as well as most of the fish we tried to get. I thought he was the future of the island.
    I asked if the islanders could have some kind of farmers market on the island and take advantage of the art festival to promote it, but apparently some of the islanders do sell their veg etc. I couldn’t get to the bottom of to what extent.
    More on the boars, the cousin or maybe the lighthouse keeper seemed to think there were 5 groups or families of boars each with up to 12 piglets. If that’s correct I imagine the damage they will do in the future will be devastating.


    1. By “young people” I didn’t mean kids, but adults in their 20-30’s. Adults about to start a family and have kids. Kids are fine too of course and obviously, but only if they come with their parents, who can build something, an activity, a local economy.

      There is a market on the port every Sunday. Also, once in a while (I think they’ve done it twice this summer, that’s a pretty new thing), people from Ogi come to Takamatsu and have stands in the Sunport Market (I don’t know if it’s every Sunday, but quite often there’s a small market where various products are sold and activities take place).

      If it’s only piglets, not all of them will reach adulthood, so it’s not as bad.
      I don’t know exactly how bad the situation is. I noticed barbwire surrounding some fields last spring (I didn’t go to the fields this week-end, difficult with a baby as well as a wife who’s terribly afraid of spiders during spider season).
      Boars are not all bad, as they also help “clean” the forest, but on such a small island I’m sure they’re more of a nuisance than anything else (not mentioning making the forest unsafe).

  5. Hi David
    Yes you are right the island needs young families. I hope the sales of food in Sunport encourages people to take more of an interest in the islands there.
    Facebook seems to have changed its set up for posting links but (hopefully it works) here’s a link to my pic’s and videos, I’ll leave it public for a week or so then revert back to friends only:!/norm.peterson.7/photos_albums

    I noticed there was a path cut in the trees on the left as you go to the lighthouse. If you follow the path through the trees you will find a new house is being built. We took a picture.
    What some of the islanders seem worried about is that they think boars will charge them if they are seen. I’m not sure how likely that is but some are nervous of walking about the island now.

    All the best.


    1. Thanks for sharing the pics, but I can’t access them. I assume they’re still in private mode.

      New house being built? I’m not sure I get where it is, left when you go to the lighthouse is in the sea. 😉
      It could be something for the Triennale… or not. (I haven’t been to the lighthouse since May… have they fixed the road by the way?)

      Boars can definitely charge you, and if you’re older they can definitely kill you or severely injure you (even if you’re not older actually). Now, it’s pretty rare that they do it. But it could happen (especially a sow with piglets or an old angry male). Well, I’m talking about European boars here, I don’t know how different Japanese boars are (but to be honest, I’m not too crazy about venturing in the hill as long as I don’t really know what to expect with those)

  6. Hi David
    I’ve monkied about with my facebook again and maybe you can see some pic’s and videos:!/norm.peterson.7/photos

    The path in the trees to the new house is on the left side as you head towards the lighthouse but it’s about half way so not as far were the path becomes more coastal. The path does lead down but there’s plenty of trees there.
    The road seemed fine but I wasn’t looking out for it and had forgotten it was so badly damaged.

    1. I can see the pics now. Thanks.
      Funny I see familiar faces on some of those (especially Mr. Tanigawa, the lighthouse keeper).

      I think I see where you mean for the house. Do you know that back in the days there were houses almost as far as the lighthouse (and fields all over the hills, not trees)?

  7. Hi David
    I’m glad I got the link working.
    You probably know the place as well as an islander by now!

    So the trees have reclaimed the land, I’m sure some of the fields on the way to the lighthouse looked more overgrown than they did a few years ago. I can’t imagine the island being so cultivated.

    I saw my first policeman on Ogi, he was whizzing around on a motorbike. Apparently he goes around the islands one after another as his tour of duty. Nice job!


    1. Believe it or not, there are still a bunch of places where I haven’t been to. And even in the village, while I don’t get lost anymore and know my way between the different “landmarks” I don’t always know the shortcuts, and there may still be a few streets that I don’t know.

      I saw some aerial pics of Ogijima from different periods of the second half of the 20th century, and you really see the island “evolving” and becoming more and more “wild”.
      Actually I may have kept the link.
      Here it is:
      Also, you may have seen the small photo exhibit all over Ogicho that depict daily life in the 50’s.
      Finally, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the island during winter, but then, as very few plants have leaves, you really can see that all of that nature around the road and paths is a bunch of overgrown fields.

  8. Hi David
    It’s good to know that even on such a small island there’s still unchartered territory.
    I loved the pictures thanks, fascinating to see the changes to the island.
    It makes me wonder what changes will take place in the next 50 years.

    I’ve been to the island in March/April and noticed it looked different in shape as the trees and bushes had died back to reveal more of the land.


  9. Looks like I’m a tad bit late to this conversation, but I have a feeling I’ll be going to Ogijima this weekend on Saturday with a lady friend. I was hoping for some travel advice, i.e. ferry cost and times (if known), cool first-time visiting locations, any special requests, or lost items to search for, etc etc… Any advice is appreciated 🙂

    1. Glad to learn that you’re going to Ogijima. 🙂
      Let’s see.
      First, I gotta warn you that at this time of the year the island maybe a bit dead (unless there is a special event that I’m not aware of this week-end), but if it’s your first time there, it won’t matter in a sense. If you’re meant to like the island, you will no matter. Remember that it’s not exactly a touristy destination and that there is nothing special there (well, except for the art). The first time I went, there was no art at all, and I fell in love with the place nonetheless just because of the place itself, the village mostly, but all the rest too.

      Ferry costs. I don’t have them in mind, but I think it’s 600 yen round trip (unless it’s 1,000).
      Ferry schedules are the winter schedule too (less boats than usual). Departure times from Takamatsu are 8am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6.10pm. Return time from Ogijima are: 7am, 9am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm. Don’t miss the last ferry or you’ll have to sleep on the island (there are a few minshukus).

      What I advise you to see for a first visit are:
      -Ogijima’s Soul. But you can’t miss it, it’s where you’ll get off the ferry.
      -The art of course. On Saturday, only Takashima & Dream Friends Gallery will be open. The current art exhibited there is a different from the last time I posted about it (I doubt I’ll have time to post about the new things before Saturday 😉 ). Of course, the outdoor art is always available (mostly “Organ” if you can find it) and the painted walls. People are extremely friendly on the island, they’ll help you find the spots if you have trouble finding them.
      If it’s not too cold, you may want to walk to the lighthouse. It’s a 2km walk in nature by the sea. Very relaxing with a great views here and there.
      Unfortunately Onba Factory is closed for the winter, but you obviously still can see decorated Onbas all over the village. While Mr and Mrs Oshima are incredibly nice people, they don’t like to have people entering Onba Factory when it says “closed”. (it’s also their house on the week-ends). You may find Mr. Oshima preparing his next project for the Setouchi Triennale 2013 in the “east coast port”. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago. He has just started and there isn’t much to see yet. If you see him and he’s not too busy, he’s one of the nicest guys I know. If he’s busy, and you disturb him, he’ll still be nice but won’t be happy about it. 😉

      As previously mentioned, the most important and interesting part of Ogijima is the village itself. I defy you to find a cuter village anywhere. 🙂 I really advise to get lost in the village, you may discover interesting things. If you actually get lost, just turn around and you’ll see the sea and the port. 😉 Don’t enter abandoned houses though, first for safety reasons, next because if someone sees you they may not like it, and you want to be welcome on the island. The people from Ogijima are among the nicest people I have ever met, but they remain islanders, i.e. you are a guest on their island.

      There is a path in the forest that leads to a small cave, a great lookout over the Seto Inland Sea and such. I don’t advise you to go, unless you really want to. If the path hasn’t been cleared recently, it’s a real jungle. Also there is the wild boar issue. In recent months, wild boars arrived on the island (from Teshima or Yashima, I’m not sure) and I don’t know what the situation is in the forest exactly. Technically, it’s safe, but I don’t know 100% (read the conversation I had with Norm just above if you haven’t already done so)

      If you plan on having lunch on the island. There are three “restaurants”. First Madoka, that I have already mentioned here. The kanji is the same as “yen”, it’s on the left when you’re facing the village from the ferry. The food is simply delicious (and it’s fish part would have been caught by the owner the same morning). I had the best octopus tempura and fish miso soup I have ever had there. However, it’s not always open. Other options are Mrs Murakami’s place. It’s the small shack right next to the big Torii at the entrance of the village. She’s a very nice lady too, although I don’t really know her. If you’re out of luck and she’s closed to, you still can eat at Ogijima’s Soul (they have a few dishes, mostly udon). If you want more info, ask there too, they’ll help you with a big smile.
      Oh, there’s also a small photo exhibit all over the village with pictures from the 50’s that show how the island once was. It’s fascinating (and a bit sad, for example knowing that there were 250 kids in the school in 1959, and that two years ago the school closed because there were only three kids left and they went to junior high in town).

      I may forget a few things, if you have more questions before Saturday, do not hesitate.

  10. Hi David
    Long time no post!
    Well as you may have guessed, we never made Japan in March:(
    But we have just booked tickets for september:)
    There are a couple of family birthdays and the Danjiri festival to see, along with a Yotsuba exhibition before we hit Takamatsu, but I think we should be there around the 21st of September. Will be on the island until the 23rd I think, then it’s another birthday and Osaka, so as usual lots of rushing around getting frustrated!
    Anyway, an early warning this time that we will be there.
    Hope to share a beer this time?!


      1. Hi David
        That sounds perfect, I will confirm nearer the time as our trips have a bad habit of running off the rails.
        All the best.

  11. Hi David
    Good to meet you at long last!
    It was a fairly busy time on the island, we had Tsubasa’s family with us and one of her uncles arrived too. I was worried Kaho (the little girl) may have been nervous with an unfamiliar face, but she seemed to be quite happy staring you out.
    Apart from the family and meeting you and your friends, it was a pretty quiet time on Ogi.
    As usual once we had packed most things away and organised the rubbish, neighbours started bringing food for us, to Tsubasa’s mum’s dispair.
    As we were closing up the house I was told some of the internal sliding doors were stuck open as they are not used often, that made me think the roof collapses I had seen may have been down to this, as the roof beam had bowed downwards about 1cm. I struggled to nudge the doors closed but it wasn’t easy. It’s a bit of a worry that the house can be in danger through something so simple as an open door.
    Until the next time.


    1. Yes, it was good to see you.
      Sorry I had a pretty busy day on this island (that’s a rare thing, usually I go there to relax and forget about time – except for the dreaded last ferry that’s always too early).
      I know the “bringing food” thing all to well (but I love it). These days, I rarely go to Ogijima and return home empty handed too.
      I hope the house will be alright.
      See you soon.

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