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In Kamijima, 25 islands unite to form a single, charming destination

Sekizen Sakura, Kamijima, Japan
Sekizen Sakura, Kamijima, Japan

A variety of on- and off-land adventures await on Japan’s hidden gem of Kamijima, where 25 islands unite as one city

Off the coast of Japan’s Ehime Prefecture lies the relatively unknown town of Kamijima, which, remarkably, is made up of as many as 25 small islands. With a population of just 6,500 people, Kamijima can be reached by high speed boat from Mihara Port in the Hiroshima Prefecture, with the journey to the island town taking about 40 minutes.

While on the island town, visitors can drive or cycle across the four main islands of Yugejima, Sashima, Ikinajima and Iwagijima on the Yumeshima (‘Dream Island’) Kaido road bridge. Several other islands are accessible by ferry including Uoshima, Takaikamijima and Toyoshima.

Yuge Island and its white sand beach

Home to almost half of Kamijima’s population, with around 3,000 people, Yuge offers restaurants, cafés, shops, hotels and guesthouses but its crowning achievement is the wide white sand beach. Located on the east side of the island at the foot of the Hoogahara pine grove, the beach is an excellent destination for swimming and snorkelling during the warmer months. Nearby, Yuge Shrine, which faces the Seto Inland Sea, is a focal point of Yuge’s October Fall Festival.

Okonomiyaki is a popular dish on Yuge and there are four restaurants on Yuge that specialise in okonomiyaki. These savoury pancakes are prepared “Hiroshima style” and layered with ingredients like noodles, eggs and pork belly before being covered in a savoury sauce.

Island hopping by sailboat

One of the best ways to see and experience the islands of Kamijima is by boat. Sailing tour options depart from Yuge and take those aboard around Kamijima’s 25 unique islands at a relaxed pace. The boats make periodic stops as beaches and offer chances to take short walks to remote lookouts with unique views.

 

Autumn festivals of Matsuri

In October, different districts across the islands of Kamijima have their own weekend Matsuri festivals. These celebrations come to life at night, with street parades, cultural spectacles and festival foods. Visitors can also witness the hospitality of each town’s local people as they serve sake to the Danjiri carriers during the festival.

 

Waterside camping

Kamijima is a popular spot for campers. Guests who are keen to get up close to the wilderness during their visits can choose from two camping spots. Sound Hakanda Camping Ground on Ikina Island and Eco-Field Matsubara on Yuge Island offer space as well as amenities for campers to enjoy. These campsites are surrounded by mountainous scenery and perched close enough to the shoreline to hear the water lapping.

Nature walks and island hops by bike

Kamijima’s network of road bridges between the main islands offers cyclists a way to experience the breadth of Kamijima’s topography and natural landscapes while stopping by some of the smaller settlements along the way. There are several walking trails around the islands that lead to some of Japan’s most prized lookouts. Yuge’s Mt. Kushi gives a 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 tourists can experience the best of the islands by foot or bike with the experience of a local guide.

 

Springtime cherry blossoms

Each year’s spring brings the pink hue of Japan’s famed cherry blossoms to the islands of Kamijima. The observation point at the top of “Castle Mountain” on Uoshima Island offers an excellent lookout for viewing the pink shades of Kamijima. Walking to the top of Mt Sekizen on Iwagi Island is likewise an impressive location to see the best of Kamijima’s cherry blossoms.

 

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