The summer session of the Setouchi Triennale 2013 is almost upon us, so it’s time to put this blog back into almost full “Triennale mode”, starting to finally writing those micro-guides for each island that I meant to write last Spring.
Today, let’s talk about Ogijima, an island dear to my heart as you now if you regularly read the blog (and even if you come here for the first time the name of the blog may have given you a hint).
I advise you to follow along with the island’s map to start familiarizing yourself with the island which can be quite a maze when you visit it for the first time.
So, here are my few tips and advice to visit Ogijima during the Setouchi Triennale 2013:
How to go to Ogijima?
Well, unless you have your own boat, you don’t have much of a choice. To go to Ogijima, you will most likely ride Meon, the ferry that links Takamatsu to Ogijima and Megijima.
It will cost you 1,000 for a return ticket and the ride will last about 40 minutes. The ferry leaves Takamatsu Sunport pretty much every two hours between 8am and 6pm (if you take the latter you’ll have to sleep on the island though), of course I advise you to check for the exact times once you’re in town in case of any last minute change.
There is another boat during the Triennale that links Ogijima to Teshima and Naoshima, but there is only one ride a day ! So if you plan on taking it, don’t miss it. If I’m correct, it leaves Teshima (Ieura port) at about 1pm for a 30 minutes trip to Ogijima, then it’ll leave Ogichō for Naoshima (Miyanoura port) at 1.55pm. I don’t have any schedule for the other way around. This boat runs on weekends and during Obon week this summer, and every day in the fall.
How to get around on Ogijima?
You’ll have to walk.
It’s useless to bring a car to the island, it’ll have to stay parked in the port. A bicycle won’t be of any use either, unless you don’t want to spend time walking to the lighthouse and back (note that you can rent bikes though).
Visiting Ogichō, Ogijima’s only village, will have to be done on foot, no other option (check out the pictures of Ogijima’s streets that you can find in this post to get an idea why).
Where to eat on Ogijima?
There are a few permanent places where you can eat on Ogijima. There will probably be some more temporary ones during the Triennale, here and there. Here are the ones you’ll find for sure:
- Ogijima’s Soul: You can buy simple dishes (mostly bowls of udon) in the artwork that also serves as the island’s welcome center (you also can buy a few souvenirs as well as ferry tickets there).
- Right next to Ogijima’s Soul, there is often a small market on the weekends where you can buy simple homemade dishes that are simply delicious (you also can buy live fish that have just been caught, if you feel like cooking – there are some grills at the small campground by the lighthouse).
- Ms Murakami’s: (I’m not sure if the place has a name, it must have one, as there are some kanji next to her name above the door), right behind Ogijima’s Soul, next to the torii at the entrance of the village. You can eat a bunch a very good homemade dishes there too.
- Madoka: one of the only “real” restaurants of the island (actually a Minshuku), I go there as often as possible, the food is always delicious, most of it coming from the island (hint: the owner is also a fisherman, chances are that the fish or seafood you’ll eat was caught by him the same morning).
- Sakura: another minshuku that also has a restaurant. As the restaurant has opened quite recently, I haven’t tried it yet.
- Café Tachi: This brand new café on Ogijima opened last April. You can eat simple dishes there too, as well as sweets and drinks. I tested it last May and I liked everything about it : the food was simple but good, the place itself is an old traditional house that has been completely renovated and that looks great with a beautiful decoration, the people are very kind, full of energy and enthusiasm. It’s very courageous of them to open a café on Ogijima, at a time where things tend to close everywhere. Maybe it is a sign that the revitalization of the island is working. In any case, such places are necessary if one wants people to move back to the island.
- Onba Café: serves delicious sweets and desserts.
- Dream Café is a part of Takeshi Kawashima & Dream Friends Gallery. It’s only open during the Triennale. There you can eat some pretty good Meon Burgers.
Where to sleep on Ogijima?
To my knowledge, there are three minshukus on Ogijima. The aforementioned Madoka and Sakura as well as a third one (located between Madoka and Onba Factory) whose name I can never recall. However, I think I’ve heard that there are a few “temporary” ones during the Triennale (basically people who are opening their house to guests).
What art is available for viewing on Ogijima?
Here are the Setouchi Triennale artworks that you can see on Ogijima (the numbers are the official triennale’s numbers – knowing them can help when you’re looking for them in the streets):
- 42 – Ogijima’s Soul by Jaume Plensa
- 43 – The Ordinary by Eriko Yano
- 44 – Corridor of Time by Takashi Nishibori
- 45 – Project for Wall Painting in Lane, Ogijima Wallalley by Rikuji Makabe
- 46 – Onba Factory
- 47 – Water Mirror by Sayaka Ishizuka
- 48 – Time Tubes by Takeshi Kawashima & Dream Friends
- 49 – Sea Vine by Haruki Takahashi
- 50 – Organ by Tomoko Taniguchi
- 51 – Memory Bottles by Megumi Kuri
- 52 – Maison de Urushi
- 53 – Air Diver by Bunpei Kado
- 54 – Walking Ark by Keisuke Yamaguchi
- 55 – OGI Project by Team OGI
- 56 – PSS40 by the Group 1965 :
- Six-Week Residency by Makoto Aida
- Ogi-ko Channel by Sumihisa Arima
- Mirror Room by Oscar Oiwa
- Social Studies Reference Room by Tsuyoshi Ozawa
- Ogi Schoolmaster by Parco Kinoshita
- Classroom of Cautious Moves by Hiroyuki Matsukage
- 57 – Houses of Light by Arthur Huang
A few more tips and advice
When you are on Ogijima, keep in mind that you are in a populated place, in a community with its own identity, culture and history. Moreover, most of the population is quite old and even if they’re very happy and excited to host the Setouchi Triennale (of all of the islands, I really believe that Ogijima is the one that has embraced it the most) and that so many people are interested in their island, even if they’re extremely nice, receiving so many visitors is pretty tiring for them at times.
In other terms, don’t forget the usual rules of politeness, it’s pretty obvious but doesn’t hurt to remind it: don’t behave like a tourist in an amusement part, but as a guest in someone’s house.
The island being usually not that frequented, everyone knows everyone else, and even when they encounter someone they don’t know, chances are that they have acquaintances and friends in common. In other terms, it’s common practice on Ogijima to say hello to whoever crosses your path. Don’t forget it, sometimes it may even allow you to start an interesting conversation if you speak Japanese.
Do not enter abandoned houses, first they’re still private properties, but they’re also potentially dangerous, it’s surprising that some of them still hold and I assume that they could crumble at anytime.
Finally, if you have garbage with you (if you brought sandwiches for example), keep the garbage with you until you leave the island. If you already know Japan already, you know that public trash cans are pretty rare anyway and bringing your trash home is common practice, but it’s even more important to do so in the Seto islands, as they simply can’t store and process garbage from a number of daily visitors that can be superior to the number of inhabitants of the island on certain days.
And my last piece of advice: enjoy your time, appreciate your surroundings, don’t rush, and have a great day on Ogijima.
Now you know what there is to know in order to prepare your visit to Ogijima during the summer and fall sessions of the Setouchi Triennale 2013.
Of course, as usual, if you have any question, suggestion, or else, the comment section is here for that.
Lovely guide. I agree with everything you said, in case anyone needed another vote of confidence. As you know, but others might not, I loved the island a lot. Perhaps a small scooter could navigate the small “streets” but that would probably annoy the locals more than anything else. 🙂
I think people should also note that some of the artworks are located in multiple locations. Like Houses of Light, there are 3 of them in different locations. It can be difficult to get your head around things until you go, but once you are there, with a map, you won’t have many problems, if any.
Also, reminding people to be polite isn’t enough. Saying you should think as if you are a guest in someone’s house is not enough. Different customs and different upbringings. Unfortunately there are enough people in the world who don’t have that common sense and just barge into everything, everywhere. While I doubt they would go to Ogijima, I think it is prudent to remind people to be polite. Don’t touch anything you aren’t allowed to touch, don’t enter places you don’t have explicit permission to enter, and chat up the locals, even if you don’t speak Japanese. You might get some sweets out of it. 😉
A small scooter could be an option (actually a few locals use them) but you need to know your way, as not every street will allow wheeled vehicle, you may encounter stairs at any point. Actually, walking around the village with a baby stroller last spring was interesting (now, I know what streets wheeled vehicle can use and what streets they can’t) 🙂
Concerning the specificities of each artworks, I detail them in their individual posts. They are linked in the list when they exist. For Houses of Light, you can read it there: https://www.setouchiexplorer.com/houses-of-light-on-ogijima/
Yes, I know I could be more specific about how to behave and not to behave on the island, but I’m appealing here to the common sense of my readers. People who read it and care about the places it talks about are not your usual tourist. (I wish, my blog would be much bigger 😉 ).
A baby stroller would make it important to know where the steps are. I remember my friends visiting from Canada would have to grab the stroller and walk it up and down all the steps in the stations. Wasn’t great but a lot faster than waiting for an elevator. Luckily their child was not that big yet.
I read that blog post on Houses of Light. Concerning your mini-guide, I felt there is a better way to express that there are 3 locations. It’s my new found interest in design. Trying to get my own website complete is a lot of work with me learning a lot about design when I never thought I would have to.
I think a lot of your readers are pretty smart. They would not have to be told what to do, but I also think it is prudent to be careful. 🙂 I can’t tell you how many times I have seen east Asian tourists just disregard the rules. Then again, they would more than likely not, rather can’t, be reading this blog either. 😀
Concerning the mini-guide thing, here I want to limit myself with things on the islands that are not the art, living the art for the special posts devoted to them, hence my lack of detail about them. I kinda assume that anyone interested in visiting the islands for the Triennale and reading this blog are hopefully also checking out the official site, so I don’t want to be too redundant.
About tourists disregarding the rules, I know what you mean, and I think that in Japan, the worst may be the Japanese themselves, especially older tourists traveling in groups, they can be terrifying.
But I don’t think many of them will read this. I really believe that foreigners arriving to Ogijima (that is people that go to an island that is on no tourist guide in a region that is “famous” for supposedly having nothing interesting) don’t really need to be told that. I’m still doing it in case of a stray “typical” tourist daring to go beyond Naoshima when they visit the Triennale. There will be very few of them, and even less to read these lines.
I understand what you mean about the mini-guide. I was only mentioning it as I was confused the first time I went to the islands and didn’t completely understand what to do at first. It did get easy very quickly though. I think the official guidebook was great but unfortunately only in Japanese.
I wonder if we can get travel bans on the old people, or anyone for that matter, who do bad things when travelling. I have done it myself and there should be allowances for simple mistakes, but age is never an excuse for bad manners. Thankfully I have either been oblivious to their bad manners or I just met the good ones. 🙂
Hello, my name is Kaori. Rurousha pointed me in this direction when I mentioned that I am heading to Ogijima for the Setouchi Trenniale next month! I’ve only read through this post but I’m hoping to go through all your Ogijima posts before I head there. Thanks for the interesting posts! 😀
Nice to meet you. And Rorousha if you read this, thanks for the shout out.
Feel free to peruse around the blog as much as you want, and if you have any specific question, feel free to ask.
Thanks so much for these enormously interesting and informative blog posts. I’m coming to the autumn session of the Triennale with a small group of friends (we’re all Australian, and a pretty artsy bunch). I’m the only one of the group who’s been to Japan before, and this will be my first time to these islands. I’ve spent a fair bit of time on the official website but your tips and advice are terrific. I feel like I’m getting a ‘behind the scenes’ preview of what’s on offer. Which is SO MUCH! I’m feeling like our week there won’t be nearly long enough. I’ll keep trawling your blog and will also draw it to the attention of my little group. Thanks again!
Thanks for the kind words.
I hope you have a blast this coming October, and if you have questions before that, do not hesitate to ask.