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Share a Meal with a Japanese Family – A Rural Experience of Ojika

Cooking fish in Ojika island

Far from the stress and the noise of the big Japanese cities, I put my backpack down on the island of Ojika. It is a place with incredible charm in Nagasaki Prefecture, 5 hours by boat from Fukuoka. An amazing and quiet island! My experience also included spending time with a Japanese family and I was impressed by their kindness!

The hospitality of the Japanese people is world-renowned and often praised by tourists traveling to Japan. But in cities like Tokyo where we live life in the fast lane, it’s rare to be able to experience an authentic exchange with locals (apart from bars, restaurants, and shops). To be welcomed into the home of a Japanese family and exchange a unique moment of conviviality and humanity, this is the assurance of an incredible experience.

In Ojika, we were fortunate to have this magical experience of cultural exchange around a homemade meal. This experience left a deep impression: the joy of being able to exchange a little of our respective cultures and more precisely, having the chance to discover the daily life of a Japanese family, if only for a few hours.

The welcome I received on the island of Ojika is due to the fact that on a small island far from urban Japan, hospitality is a precious gift offered to visitors who have traveled a great distance to come into their homes. Thus, we felt welcome from the moment of our arrival at the small port of Ojika.

Share the daily life of a Japanese family

The Ojika tourist office, open from 6.30 a.m., has an important role in welcoming visitors to the island. The friendly staff is an valuable asset to helping people enjoy their stay on the island. A special thanks to Victoria, one of the members of this dynamic team, through whom I was able to meet Yoshiko Yamada-san!

The dinner shared with Yamada-san’s family was a great success, like the entire stay on Ojika! In such a moment, we realized that more than spoken language, it’s the language of the heart that counts, with all the many shared laughs.

It would be an understatement to say that Yamada-san’s meal was just good… it was succulent and huge. To my great pleasure, there was plenty of seafood served. Yamada-san is a generous and very talented cook. Passionate about cooking, she asks about your favorite foods as your grandmother would.

A unique experience

During the dinner with the Yamada couple, we learned a lot about the tides, the moon and the freshness of the fish. We learned just as much about the peaceful life of people on their island, far from the noise of a city like Tokyo, where I have never had the opportunity to be invited over to the house of a Japanese friend. But beyond that, we started to dream of such a peaceful lifestyle.

These landscapes, this hospitality, this authenticity, they are characteristic of rural life. Do not be afraid to leave the marked trails to venture to an island like Ojika where you will experience something more authentic than most visitors who come to Japan.

I hope I honored Yamada-san by cooking with her and dining with her and her husband. I have to confess that I even left with a small Tupperware; Yamada-san was happy, and of course, so was I.

How to get to Ojika Island?

You might think that it’s difficult to get to Ojika Island, but it’s not. The access to Ojika is by boat (the crossing, only at night, takes 5 hours, but there are places to sleep on the journey) from the Port of Hakata, easily accessible by bus about twenty minutes from Hakata station in Fukuoka. If you arrive by plane from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo in Hokkaido, JR Hakata station is two metro stops from Fukuoka Airport.

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