Also known as "Shodo Isalnd" — with olives groves and jutting cliffs — is one of the most surprising mixes of culture in Japan.
Got a day or two to spare in Kagawa Prefecture? Take an hour’s ferry crossing from Takamatsu to the Mediterranean-like island of Shodoshima that’s famous for its mouth-watering olives and soy sauce.
Top Museums to Visit on Naoshima
Aside from delighting foodies, the island offers stunning nature, beaches, hiking trails, old towns and film locations. Discover the picturesque Greek-style windmill among the olive groves or just enjoy the olives in a variety of forms like chocolate, snacks, traditional pickles and even cosmetics in the Shodoshima Olive Garden. If you’re up for olive picking, the best time of the year is to come for the harvest in October/November, depending on the year.
After the olive binge, drop into Marukin Shoyu Soy Sauce Factory & Museum for a glimpse of the age-old industry and of course for a soy souvenir. After seeing the museum of old-school soy preparation, you should treat yourself to a soy-sauce-flavored ice cream — a lot tastier than you might think!
Nature in the area
Take a hike during your stay at Setonaikai National Park, which is well worth a visit, especially the Kankakei area. According to a sign that greets you on arrival; it has been given a Michelin star to be listed on the Green Guide Japan.
Kankakei Gorge is said to be one of Japan’s “three most beautiful” valleys. It’s a popular destination for hikers. Check out the Shibocho observatory – used as a location for the film “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” On the same note, the set of the “Guchokipanya bakery” was actually relocated to Olive Park in Shodoshima (Map). Here, you can even take photos with “magic brooms” to recreate the movie!
Even if you’re not up for a hike, you can always take the ropeway cable car up to see the view. It takes about five minutes to ascend Mount Hoshigajo. From there, you can truly appreciate the views of the surrounding islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
Speaking of movies, on the island, there’s a replica village of old-time Japan made famous in the film “24 Eyes.” You can see other classic films in the old theatre house, pose alongside gaudy Godzilla billboards and purchase locally made beers. Remember to keep them cold, as they are best had at sundown on one of the island’s west-facing beaches.
While it’s a ton to take in, there’s still more. Angel Road Park is a favorite destination for families and couples, a tiny island that is accessible for a few hours until the tide arrives.
Lastly is Tonosho, known as the “maze town” is one of two of the island’s major cities. It’s a place of interest for fans of the curious twisting, turning architecture of small-town Japan.
Who knew that Kagawa had so much to offer? You will… after a trip!