Kyushu | Fukuoka Sightseeing Sponsored

Oita’s Magical Islands of Cats and Seashells


Sponsored by Tourism Oita 

A Tale of Two Islands

Fukashima port

Located on the south east coastline of Oita Prefecture, Fukashima and Yakatajima islands are well-known for their turquoise waters where coral and marine life are abundant. You will not find any convenience stores or vending machines on these islands; the people here live a serene life in harmony with nature. Indeed, the two islands are surrounded by one of the most bountiful seas in Japan, the Bungo Channel. Marines currents from both the Pacific Ocean and the Seto Inland Sea have created a rich ecosystem with a large variety of fish, shellfish and other sea life. When arriving on the islands, you can easily see the fuchsia coral, multicolor fish and sometimes jellyfish beneath the clear blue waters. In the summertime, the two islands are popular spots for marine activities such as scuba diving, canoeing, paddleboarding, and swimming. The rest of the year, Fukashima and Yakatajima are good get-away islands to explore nature and discover unique local products.

Fukashima – A Cat Paradise

From Kamae port, you can reach Fukashima in less than 30 minutes by boat. The island is rather small with an area of only a little over 1 square kilometers. 18 people live on the island with around 20 feral cats. When you arrive at Fukashima port, fishermen are fishing on the giant tetrapods you can see along most of the Japan coastline. Elderly women of the islands go to the opposite coast, looking for some whelks or mollusks to harvest at low tide.

Fishermen fishing on Fukashima bay

The island is also famous for its cats. They are not totally wild, as they are fed by the islands people. Each cat has been named and are checked regularly by a veterinarian. You can purchase “cat biscuits” at Fukushima Shokudo if you would like to feed them.

Cat walking in Fukashima village

Torii at the entrance of Fukashima village

Cat sitting in front of Shinto sanctuary

Fukushima Shokudo, local and natural products

Fukashima Shokudo is a restaurant owned by the Abe family and is a place where you can enjoy local products, such as fresh catch from the local waters or handmade, locally produced miso. The restaurant’s backyard features two breath-taking terraces where you can enjoy a delicious lunch with a view.

Fukashima Shokudo terrace

If you arrive in the morning on the island, you can assist with the catch and preparation of the fish the restaurant serves during the lunch. All the fish are kept in a little fish pen where the restaurant can easily pick up what they need.

Fukashima Shokudo private fish pen

Mr Abe preparing fish

Whether served raw as sashimi, fried, grilled or in a soup, fish constitutes the main element of the islanders’s daily diet. Enjoy your lunch on the Fukashima Shokudo terrace with an exceptional view on the ocean.

Lunch at Fukashima Shokudo

 

Organic and locally produced Miso

At Fukashima Shokudo, you will be able to try a locally produced miso, produced for generations on the island. An essential ingredient in many types of Japanese cuisine, miso is a fermented soybean paste made from wheat, rice, koji (fermented rice), and daizu (soybean paste). Fukashima miso is handmade without any additives or preservatives. The rice and wheat are cooked in a kamado (traditional Japanese oven).

Fukashima Miso

You can visit the miso workshop and experience the final process of the miso production prior to the fermentation stage. All the ingredients are hand mixed together, resulting a homogenous paste that will ferment for at least 3 months, away from sunlight. You can take home the portion you make and taste it when it is ready after 3 months. (Miso experience fee  is ¥1,500 )

Miso preparation

Mixing ingredients for Miso paste

If you wish, you can also spend the night at the Fukashima Shokudo, giving you ample time to do scuba diving or snorkeling. Even though their home page is in Japanese, it features a lot of photos and can be helpful : http://445413cd50bce88.main.jp/fukashimaweb/about/

 

Yakatajima, the Shell Island

From Fukashima port, you can take the ferry back to Kamae and stop by Yakatajima. With only 15 people living on the island, most of the families survive on Hiyougi scallop culture and production. These scallops look similar to French Saint Jacques scallops in size and shape, but feature naturally vibrant colors from orange, pink, and purple. Hiyougi scallops are cultivated in warmer seas than Saint Jacques and their taste is a bit different. 

Goto family on Yakatajima port

The Goto family is one of the Hiyougi producers. All year long, Hiyougi scallops are bred and raised in suspended nets in the sea. From the coast, the scallop farms are easily detectable by the black floating balls on the water. During their growing season, the Hiyougi are collected, cleaned up, sorted according sizes, and put again in the water to reach a optimal size before being consumed.

Hiyougi scallops in the net

Hiyougi shells

Hiyougi shells on sandbeach in Yakatajima

How to get there

Ferry line for Fukashima and Yakatajima

From Kamae port, the ferry line “Ever Green”, goes to the two islands 3 times a day, normally (see the detailed timeline here.) First departures are between 7:30 and 8:00 am depending on the season. It will cost you around ¥700 one way to Fukashima. From Fukashima to Yakatajima, ¥500 and from Yakatajima to Kamae ¥300. Time schedules are posted at the Kamae port ferry stop.

Kamae port

You can find more information on this website : http://www.shokokai.or.jp/44/4440810019/

    
Name Fukashima Shokudo
Category Restaurant
Address 3241-7 Kamae Ōaza Kamaeura, Saiki, Oita 876-2401
Access
3241-7 Kamae Ōaza Kamaeura, Saiki, Oita 876-2401
Opening Hours 7:30 – 17:00
Price Range 1000¥ – 3000¥
Payment options Cash