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Suo-Oshima (周防大島町, Suō-Ōshima-chō) is a town and island in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Seto Inland Sea. It is well known for its mandarin oranges and ties to Hawaii.

Understand[edit]

Although it is an emerging tourist destination, historically Suo-Oshima’s main industries are farming mikans (similar to mandarin oranges) and fishing. At one time mikan farming was a prosperous industry but in the 1990s the price of the mikan dropped dramatically making mikan farming not as lucrative as it used to be. In addition, like most of rural Japan, Suo-Oshima is suffering a population decrease and Suo-Oshima now has the oldest population per capita in Yamaguchi Prefecture. However, things are changing as Suo-Oshima is trying to make itself a tourist destination. Due to its beaches and historical ties to Hawaii (some of the first Japanese emigrants to Hawaii came from Suo-Oshima), Suo-Oshima has branded itself as “the Hawaii of Japan” and many restaurants and shops catering to tourists have popped up in an effort to keep the local economy stable. As a result, Suo-Oshima has become a popular summer day trip destination for people from the bigger cities of Iwakuni, Tokuyama, and Hiroshima. In addition, it is not uncommon to see American families vacationing here as Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station is only one hour away.    

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

  • JR Ōbatake Station (大畠駅), on the Sanyo Main Line. It is not on the island but is right next to the bridge that connects to the island. You can take either a bus or a cab from the station to get to Suo-Oshima.

By ferry[edit]

  • Suooshima-Matsuyama Ferry (周防大島松山フェリー(株) 伊保田港フェリー乗り場), ferries depart from Ihota Port on the Eastern tip of the island and disembarks in either Matsuyama (Mitsuhama Port) or Yanai (Yanai Port). It can accommodate vehicles, reservations recommended. ¥2,570 one way.

By car[edit]

  • Suo-Oshima is easiest to visit (and get around) by car.

Get around[edit]

While there are buses in Suo-Oshima, they are infrequent so getting around by car is definitely the best option. Cabs are available but are expensive.

See[edit]

  • Meshinoyama Observation Deck (飯の山 展望台) Observation deck near Oshima Bridge with great views. When you exit the bridge turn left and follow signs for "Mt. Linoyama". You can drive all the way up to the top of the mountain.
  • Shirakiyama Observation Deck (白木山山頂公園) Observation deck in the eastern part of the island built on the remains of a former Japanese Army installation. The road is not well maintained and it is probably best to park your car at the bottom and walk up to the top. However, it is well worth the hike as the view is probably the best in Suo-Oshima, you can see Matsuyama and Hiroshima on a clear day.
  • Mt. Dake Observation Deck (嵩山 展望テラス) Observation deck in the middle of the island with beautiful views. The road up to the top is well maintained, follow signs for "Mt. Dakesan" starting in Kuka.
  • Nagisa Aquarium (なぎさ水族館) Small but impressive aquarium
  • Yashiro Dam Park (屋代ダム公園) Quiet park with a manmade lake with cherry blossoms in the spring and fall colors in the fall.
  • Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii (日本ハワイ移民資料館) Museum displaying the history of the more than 5,000 people who immigrated from Suo-Oshima to Hawaii in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Do[edit]

  • Katazoegahama Seaside Park (片添ケ浜海浜公園) Beach that is less crowded than others in Suo-Oshima and near restaurants. About a 30-minute drive from Oshima Bridge
  • Ryuzaki Onsen (竜崎温泉潮風の湯) Onsen with seaside views.
  • Bike, Suo-Oshima is a popular destination for cyclists.

Buy[edit]

  • Sazanseto Towa Roadside Station Oshima's only roadside station with a few restaurants and shops.

Eat[edit]

Oshima has many unique restaurants offering quality local cuisine. In addition, do not leave Suo-Oshima without trying a mikan, a fruit similar to a mandarin orange that is grown throughout the island. Many restaurants incorporate mikans into their dishes but you can also find them at any supermarket or roadside stand on the island.

Power Beach (パワービーチ), 663-1 Kuka, +81820722170. W-Sa 11:00-16:00; Su 11:30-16:00, closed Mondays and Tuesday. Casual beach side cafe serving American inspired food (think nachos, burgers, ice cream etc.). It has a great view of the Seto Inland Sea, indoor and outdoor seating, English menus, and a very friendly English speaking staff.

Kasahara Honey, 町東三蒲473−1, +81820745283. W-M 10:00-17:00, closed Tuesdays. Modern cafe specializing in locally-made honey and serving pastries, coffee, tea, and sweets among other things. English menu available

Cafe Misaki (カフェ ミサキ), 469-7 Kuka, +81820721795. W-F 11:00-17:00, Sa Su 11:00-17:30, closed Mondays and Tuesday. Cafe with a nice view serving delicious pancakes, Japanese curry, and pizza among other things. Has an English menu and English speaking staff. Can get busy during the weekends.

Setouchi Jams Garden (瀬戸内ジャムズガーデン), 331-8 Hikuma, +81820730002. F-Tu 10:00-16:00, Closed Wednesdays and Thursday. Quaint cafe specializing in locally made jam but also serving drinks and sweets. Indoor and outdoor seating available.

Tachibana-ya (たちばなや), Nishiagenosho, 真宮1−1, +81820770132. Old school ramen restaurant run by the same husband and wife for decades. It is legendary among ramen connoisseurs in Yamaguchi Prefecture due to its unique take on ramen, they use iriko-dashi (dried infant sardines) in the base of the broth. There is no English menu, it is cash only, and smoking inside is allowed so it may seem intimidating to the average Western traveler. However, if you can bring a Japanese speaker with you it is well worth it as you will never taste anything like it.

Osamuraijaya Hikoemon Oshima-honten (お侍茶屋 彦右衛門 大島本店), 1094-1 Doi, +81820731511. F-Su 11:00-21:30. Restaurant with a large menu serving good quality Japanese food. One of the few places open for dinner on the island.

Kawai Sushi (かわい寿し), 1958-22 Nishigata, +81820780011. Good sushi restaurant with friendly service, although no English menu. Open for lunch and dinner most nights.

Crest of the Wave Tateishi (クレスト・オブ・ザ・ウェイヴ 立岩), 577-1 Higashiagenosho, +81820770300. Kaiseki restaurant for a good price considering the high quality of the food. The chef was trained in top of the line restaurants in Kyoto and is very friendly.

Drink[edit]

  • Cafe & Bar Essence (カフェ&バー エッセンス), Ebisumachi-4372-3 Kuka 742-2301, +81820720355. Cafe and bar that occasionally has live music.

Sleep[edit]

Marissa Resort Sazanseto Suo-oshima (マリッサリゾート サザンセト周防大島), 1347-1 Hirano, +81820782121. Beachside hotel with a restaurant, gift shop, onsen, indoor pool, and western style beds. Has a free shuttle to and from Obatake Station.

Connect[edit]

Go next[edit]

Matsuyama - City in Shikoku that's an hour ferry ride from Ihota Port in Suo-Oshima.

Yanai - Town with well preserved Edo-era streets

Iwakuni - City known for the wooden Kintai Bridge

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