The Oki Islands are made up of about 180 islands, 4 of which are inhabited islands, which only consist of a combined population of around 23,000 people. They are about 40 to 80 kilometers off the north coast of Shimane Prefecture and formed the UNESCO Global Geopark from Sept. 2013. These 4 inhabited islands are usually divided into two separate categories: Dogo (meaning the northern part of the islands) and Dozen (meaning the southern part of the islands). The Dogo island is the largest of the 4 with around double the total population of the Dozen islands combined. The Dozen islands are made up of 3 islands - Nakanoshima, Nishinoshima and Chiburijima.
Our 2-Day Trip Through the Oki Islands:
On our 5th day, we had to wake up pretty early in order to catch a ferry from Shichirui Port in Shimane Prefecture to Saigo Port on Dogo Island within the Oki Islands. The ferries leaving for the Oki Islands don’t come very often so make sure to give plenty of room before departure in order to secure your spot on the ferry!
09:00 PortShichirui take Ferry “Oki” ---> 11:25 Saigo Port.
Pick up our car at Oki Drive Rent a Car.
Day 5 Schedule:
After a one and a half hour ferry ride, we were starving and craved some local food. After picking up our rental car near the port we immediately wanted to try. One of the most popular local delicacies here, turban shell rice.
Turban Shell Rice "Ryoba" The sazae don, also known as turban shell rice, on Oki Island is definitely worth the journey. It’s not often that you come across turban shell, so I was initially skeptical of the taste, but it turned out to be surprisingly tasty! The green onion and the turban shell went well together, and I’m glad to report that my first ever sazae don didn’t disappoint.
Roasted Rice Ball Tea-Soup "Nabekuni" Hungry to try as many local foods as possible, we stopped by another restaurant near the port. According to the online reviews, this restaurant is famous for its roasted rice ball tea-soup (Yakimeshi Chaduke), which is also a famous local dish here on the Oki islands – they say Emperor Showa tried it when he came to visit!
After devouring the delicious sazae don, and the well-known roasted rice ball tea-soup we headed directly to Tamawakasu-Mikoto Shrine, a historic structure that is regarded as the oldest shrine in the Oki region to have been built in the Oki architectural style, known as Oki-zukuri. It was established in 1793 and designated as an important national cultural site in 1992. Another highlight of this place is the 2000-year-old cedar tree called “Yao Sugi”, one of the three Giant Japanese Cedar Trees of Oki. According to legend, a Buddhist nun by the name Bhikkhuni, achieved longevity by consuming mermaid meat. This nun had visited this shrine and planted this very cedar tree promising to return 800 years later, hence the name Yao Sugi Cedar (800 year tree).
From Saigo Port, take a 18-minute Oki Ichibata Kotsu bus ride. Get off at Tamawakasu-Mikoto Jinja stop.
5 minutes by car from Saigo Port.
Dangyo Waterfall We then drove around 40-50 minutes in order to see the Dangyo Falls, one of Japan’s 100 most famous waterfalls. It has a mystical ambience created by the two waterfalls that flow down from both sides of the Dangyo shrine. One waterfall is considered to be the male or Odaki in Japanese and the other considered to be a female or Medaki in Japanese. According to local residents, these waterfalls help bring long life and prevention from fire damage. This particular angle is a favorite with visitors who come to take pictures of the amazing Dangyo Waterfall.
This is a perfect spot for capturing the sunset. Despite the cold and windy weather, it didn’t stop us from enjoying the gorgeous sunset. There is a deck with a magnificent view of the sea and the lighthouse by the shore.Can you see that path at the bottom? It’s a 5-10 minute walk from the observation deck to the lighthouse.
*Access: 40 minutes by car from Saigo Port.
This sunset was a perfect way to end our first day on the Oki Islands. We were very eager to explore more around the area for our last day on this 6-day tour.
Day 6 Schedule:
In order to finish all of the spots that we wanted to check out on these islands, we had to wake up pretty early so that we could make the last ferry back to Saigo Port. This day was filled with some more beautiful nature, awesome views and delicious food.
Reaching Iwakura no Chichi Sugi was a challenge, because it’s pretty remote and the road is not only narrow but windy, so when you visit this spot by car it helps to take extra care while driving.Despite the confusion, we finally made it. The tree is 800 years old, 10 meters tall, and very beautiful. This is another tree that is considered part of “Three Giant Japanese Cedar Trees of Oki.” And now we get to say that we visited a boob tree.
The coastline is about one kilometer long and spreads across the east side of the island. There are also two different nature trails for people to explore. *Access: 40 minutes by car from Saigo Port.
Shirashima Observation DeckShirashima Coast is located on the north part of Dogo Island, with waves constantly crashing on the rocks giving it its unique shape. From the observation deck, you get to take in the entire Shirashima coast.*Access: 40 minutes by car from Saigo Port.
Turban Shell Rice "Sazae Mura" IIf you tried your first sazae don and liked it, we recommend popping by this restaurant when you’re on the island. The perfect combination of eggs and turban shells take this sazae don to the next level, with a taste so smooth you’ll want to order seconds.
Turban Shell Rice "Ajumaya" This restaurant serves the dish differently from the ones that we introduced above (Sazae Mura), this one with shells intact. If you are the type who loves trying out new things, this is definitely for you! This restaurant also serves more general Japanese dishes as well so if you want to experience other foods, don’t worry!
Oki Hot Springs "GOKA" Japan is famous for its hot springs, so you can be sure that even on a remote area like the Oki Islands you’ll find a good one. Take a soak in GOKA hot springs, if you have the time hop in the sauna to cap off an exciting day exploring one of Japan’s most picturesque islands.
*Access: 30 minutes by car from Saigo Port.
That capped off our 6-day tour of this area. We had to rush back in order to make the last ferry so that we could catch our plane back to Haneda Airport in Tokyo. It was definitely a trip filled with a variety of activities, beautiful sceneries and a whole bunch of delicious food.
*Going back to Tokyo
Back to Saigo Port 15:10 Ferry “Kuniga”--->17:35 Shichirui Port.
Take a taxi from Shichirui Port to Yonago Kitaro Airport.