HomeTravelExplore Kamijima; Japan's town of 25 islands

Explore Kamijima; Japan’s town of 25 islands

Most countries would be lucky to have several islands within their borders, but in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture, you’ll discover a single town made up of as many as 25 islands. 

Kamijima, located off the coast of Ehime, has a population of around 6500 and you can enjoy an abundance of adventurous activities and things to see in this small town (by population), which is also an entire world of its own.

Kamijima is a great entry point to exploring the broader treasures of Ehime Prefecture. Regular high-speed boats operate from Mihara Port in Hiroshima Prefecture, taking 40 minutes to reach the island town, or you can catch a ferry from Innoshima (Nagasaki Pier) in Hiroshima Prefecture, taking justs three minutes to reach Kamijima.   

It’s also easy to get around this magical town of islands. You can drive or cycle across the four main islands – Yugejima, Sashima, Ikinajima, and Iwagijima – using the Yumeshima (‘Dream Island’) Kaido road bridge, while several other islands are easily accessible by ferry including Uoshima, Takaikamijima, and Toyoshima. Here are some of the highlights of Kamijima.  

Visit Yuge Island and its white sand beach

Home to almost half of Kamijima’s population, with around 3000 people, Yuge offers restaurants, cafés, shops, hotels and guesthouses, while the jewel in the crown has to be the wide white sand beach on the east side of the island at the foot of the Hoogahara pine grove. Swimming and snorkelling in the clear, calm waters are popular activities during the warmer months, while you can also visit the nearby Yuge Shrine, which faces the Seto Inland Sea – a focal point of Yuge’s October Fall Festival.

If you visit Yuge, don’t miss the opportunity to try okonomiyaki, a popular dish on the island. There are four okonomiyaki restaurants on Yuge that specialise in these delicious savoury pancakes ‘Hiroshima style’, layered with everything from noodles, egg and pork belly, and covered in a delicious savoury sauce.

Island hopping sailing adventures      

One of the best ways to see and experience the islands with their stunning beaches and coastlines is by boat. There are sailing tour options departing from Yuge, which will take you around Kamijima’s 25 unique islands at a relaxed pace. Along the way, you can visit secluded beaches or take short walks to remote lookouts with incredible views.  

Experience the autumn festivals (Matsuri)

During the month of October, different districts across the islands of Kamijima have their own Matsuri festivals taking place over the weekends. These celebrations are at their most lively at night, filling the streets with parades, cultural spectaculars and tasty food. You’ll also witness the incredible hospitality of the town’s local people as they serve sake to the Danjiri carriers during the festival.

Camp on the water’s edge

Being a place of nature, far removed from big city life, it’s not surprising Kamijima is a popular spot for campers. If you’re keen to get up close to the wilderness during your visit, there are two idyllic camp spots to consider. There you’ll be surrounded by stunning mountainous scenery and perched so close to the shoreline you’ll hear the water lapping. Sound Hakanda Camping Ground on Ikina Island and Eco-Field Matsubara on Yuge Island offer bountiful space as well as amenities for campers to enjoy.

Nature walks and island hops by bike

Thanks to a robust network of road bridges between the main islands, cycling is a great way to experience the breadth of Kamijima’s incredible topography and natural landscapes while stopping by some of the smaller settlements along the way. With its vast natural beauty barely touched by civilisation, there are also abundant walking trails around the islands, leading to some of the most spectacular and remote lookouts in Japan. Visit Yuge’s Mount Kushi for bird’s eye views over the ocean and towards the surrounding islands. There are also single-day or multi-day cycling or walking tour options available, where you can experience the best of the islands by foot or bike with the experience of a local guide.

Witness the cherry blossoms bloom in spring

In spring every year, the islands of Kamijima become beautifully spruced with the pink hue of Japan’s famed cherry blossoms. The observation point at the top of ‘Castle Mountain’ on Uoshima Island or the walk to the top of Mount Sekizen on Iwagi Island are impressive locations to see the best of Kamijima’s cherry blossoms.

About Ehime Prefecture

Ehime, in the northwest of Shikoku, is a stunningly beautiful area to explore. Ehime’s quaint towns and cosmopolitan cities sit amongst jagged mountains, rural landscapes and bright blue seas scattered with islets.

Ehime’s capital, Matsuyama, has inspired some of Japan’s most celebrated creatives, including Masaoka Shiki, Natsume Soseki and Ryotaro Shiba. Dogo Onsen, the oldest hot spring in Japan, has attracted many residents, tourists and pilgrims for 3000 years.

The region enjoys warm weather while the areas facing the Seto Inland Sea have plenty of sunny days. The Shimanami Kaido area and its magnificent bridges offer a picturesque cycling route over architectural masterpieces. Ehime also has two castles with intact original keeps and is one of four prefectures on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, a grand loop trail connecting 88 temples.

How to get there

Flights to multiple destinations operate from Matsuyama Airport, with frequent connections to Japan’s major airports, as well as Seoul, Busan, and Taipei. Matsuyama is well connected by rail by taking a shinkansen from major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya to Okayama – before catching a limited express train from Okayama connecting with Ehime.

From Hiroshima, it takes just 70 minutes to reach Ehime by super jet ferry on the Seto Inland Sea.  Cyclists can take a bike along the Shimanami Kaido from Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture to Imabari City.

Have you ever been to Japan? Why not share your favourite travel experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Feeling like royalty on one of Cunard’s ‘queens’

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