Hakata Island 伯方島

Description

Hakatajima is a small island island in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea, along the Shimanami Kaido bridges. It is only about 20 square kilometers in area, and is located between Oshima and Omishima. The population according to a 2004 census is 7.393 people. It’s cozy, but it is definitely “inaka!”

Website - http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/伯方島–


Location / Access / Transport

You can get to Hakatajima by taking the Kurukushima Kaikyo Bridge and then the Oshima-Hakata bridge from Imabari, or by taking the other Shimanami Kaido bridges from Honshu. A car or scooter is recommended, though walking and biking are possible. From Imabari, there are also ferries available. The fee from Imabari Port to Kinoura Port is 1000yen.

  • By ferry: (from Imabari) – high speed, once an hour to Innoshima, stopping at Hakata
  • By bus: (from Imabari) – to Omishima, once or more an hour (about 900yen)

Shopping

  • There is a Lawson’s convenience store near the Hakatajima Interchange.
  • The biggest store is the Hakata Shopping Center, located directly across from Hakata High School in the Kinoura district.
  • Alcohol and fish shop (next to the high school)

Dining Out

  • Sanwa is a famous ramen shop near the police station that serves “Hakata Salt Ramen.”
  • Cache is a homestyle Italian restaurant in the Furue district.
  • The best okonomiyaki on the island can be had at Fuu, located on the frontage road across from the bus terminal, near the Marine Park.
  • Sakura, another excellent okonomiyaki restaurant, is located on the main road towards the northwest side of the island.

Leisure

  • There is a rundown karaoke shack. But… that’s really it

Nightlife

  • Everything closes down pretty early. It’s a quiet island.
  • One late night drinking bar opposite toll gate at Inter.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Hakata is famous for cherry blossoms, viewable on Mt. Hiraki during the appropriate season.
  • Maruyama Park (above Kanogawa lake) is a very nice park, and one of the best spots for viewing sakura in the spring.
  • Most tourists stop by for a bowl of ramen at Sanwa and buy a container of Salt. (Truth is, it’s not even from the island anymore! They just package it here. Shh.)
  • Biking is a great day trip.
  • Lovely beaches (SC Park and Okioura)

Accomodation

  • There are some ryokans on the island, but they are overpriced, and it is far more convenient to stay in Imabari. If you want to stay the night, call up one of the two ALTs and ask to crash on the floor – it’s your best bet.

Health

  • There are clinics and dentists on the island, but for anything more than the sniffles or a checkup, you’ll be shipped to a hospital somewhere else, most likely in Imabari.


Imabari City 今治市

Description

Imabari is the second largest city in Ehime with a population of about 177,000.

Websites – http://iciea.imabari-cc.ac.jp/guidebook.html or
http://www.city.imabari.ehime.jp/


Location / Access / Transport

Imabari is located on the northern tip of mainland Ehime. Imabari is the main connecting point for transport in the area. The best place to get bus information is the little kiosk outside of Imabari JR, in front of the bus stops. You can get any timetables you need. Local trains connect smaller towns in the area and also run to Saijo and Matsuyama. Timetables are available from inside the JR station. Buses running to/from (Matsuyama) Imabari to Miyaura on Omishima, across the Shimanami Kaido link the Ehime islands in between. The buses run from stand three outside Imabari JR.

  • By Ferry:
    • www.diamond-ferry.co.jp (Oita-Matsuyama-Imabari-Kobe). Diamond Ferry runs overnight from Imabari to Kobe. This ferry stops at Matsuyama before running through to Oita, near the famous onsen town Beppu on Kyushu.
    • www.orange-ferry.co.jp (Niihama-Toyo-Osaka). Orange Ferry is the overnight ferry service from Toyo Port, about 30 minutes from Imabari, to Osaka. There is a free bus from Imabari to the ferry port which leaves from Imabari station at 21.05. There is a direct bus from Osaka ferry port to Kansai International Airport; if you buy your bus ticket with your ferry ticket, you get a good discount.
    • Namikata Ferry – this ferry goes to Takehara. There is a van that can take you from the port to Hiroshima Airport. The airport is very close to Takehara. In total it takes about an hour and a half to go from Namikata to Hiroshima Airport so it doesn’t take that much longer than going to Matsuyama Airport. (1000 yen)
    • Ferry from Omishima (Inokuchi Port) – Hiroshima-ken (passenger only)
    • Ferry from Omishima (Seikan Port) – Takehara, Hiroshima-ken (car ferry, 20 minutes)
    • Ferries also run between Honshu, Shikoku and many of the islands between. Car ferries generally work out a little cheaper than the bridges. Habu also has ferries which run frequently to Onomichi and Mihara (10 daily). Many of these also stop at Yuge. For more information about the Uoshima ferry, check out www.town.kamijima.ehime.jp/access/ferry_uoshima. It goes from Habu and also stops at Yuge and Takaikami-jima.
  • By train: JR Station – express trains almost hourly going to be Matsuyama and Takamatsu or Okayama
  • By Bus:
    • Long Distance Bus: Setouchi Bus - www.setouchibus.co.jp (0898 228800).
    • Express buses from Imabari to Hiroshima, Fukuyama, Kobe, Osaka and Tokyo.
    • Ishizuchi Liner: Imabari, Toyo, Komatsu, Saijo, Niihama, Mishima/Kawanoe Intersection, Kobe Sanomiya and Osaka (overnight)
    • Pairetsu: Imabari, Toyo, Saijo, Niihama, Mishima/Kawanoe Intersection, Tokyo Shinagawa, Tokyo (overnight)
    • Shimanami Liner: Imabari, across Seto islands to Hiroshima Bus Centre or Fukuyama.
      • Shimanami Liner: Fukuyama to Imabari via the Shimanami expressway. One bus an hour from 6am until 7pm. Full journey is just under two hours. Cost of the full journety is 2,400yen. The same company runs eight Imabari to Onomichi buses throughout the day.
      • Shimanami Liner also runs buses from Imabari to Hiroshima. Three a day, each way during the week and six a day on Saturdays and Sundays. It takes roughly two hours 45 minutes from Imabari, 3600yen.
      • The information line is open 10am-5pm (0898 254873). NB – these buses cannot be used as local buses (ie. to get off at stops while still in Ehime.)
  • By Car:
    • In Ehime: Take route 196 or route 317 (short and windy, dangerous in winter)
    • Outside Ehime: Toyo A is very well connected by the national expressway – routes to both Honshu and the rest of Shikoku. Be warned though, the Shimanami Kaido is extremely expensive due to the bridge tolls. Kei cars (yellow plates) receive a 20% discount. To reduce this cost, use the car ferry between Imabari and Oshima. It takes only 22 minutes, is half the price of the bridge and runs each way on the hour and half-hour. From Imabari central port, pay at kiosk straight off the roundabout. From Omishima head straight through the lights rather than turning left to the toll booths for the bridge.

Shopping

  • Fuji Grand (mall)
  • World Plaza (shopping complex)
  • Saty (department store)
  • Baron Liquor store – this store has a grocery side with a number of imported foods.
  • Aoi Liquor store – this is on Tokiwa-dori by the Imabari station. It has a few imported snacks.

Dining Out

  • Tia – Organic Buffet
  • Tsukasa – yakitori, try the torikawa-don
  • Hagakure – yakitori
  • Furaibo – yakitori, try the chicken wings
  • Sekisen – yakitori, try the kamameshi
  • Mimamizushi – sushi
  • Sushi Suigun – conveyer belt sushi
  • Sukiya – cheap gyudon and curry
  • Gyukaku – yakiniku
  • Hanamaru – udon
  • Ganbatei Self Udon – udon
  • Himedori – yakitori. Half price beer every Wendesday.

Leisure

  • Kiyomasa Onsen – there are two onsens here, one in the main building and an upper part that is adults only. There is also a pool, a climbing wall and a small gym. It’s close to town so it’s easy to go to.
  • Kibukawa Onsen – this is the most famous onsen in Imabari. The water here is supposed to be better than Kiyomasa. Nibukawa is on the far side of Tamagawa, so unless someone is driving I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Imabari City Gym – this is the cheapest gym. They have weights, treadmills, basketball courts which are also used for volleyball, badminton, indoor soccer, and they also have an area for karate, judo and aikido. There are also tennis courts and a baseball field nearby.
  • Green Pier (Tamagawa) – they have a baseball field and tennis courts.
  • You can rent Nibukawa Elementary School gym to play basketball, volleyball or badminton.
  • Bowling
  • Movie theatre
  • Lots of different classes at the chuo kominkan (near Fracasso)

Nightlife

  • Liberdage – this is a sports bar. Take a left on the 4th street going down Imabari Ginza to the port. It should be about 10m away on your right side. The guys that run this bar LOVE soccerand almost always have some soccer game on the big screen there.
  • Matsumoto-cho – main “nightlife” area in Imabari, first right going down the Ginza and you will find a street full of bars. Almost all charge cover fees.
  • Karaoke

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Shimanami cycling – I recommend this during the cherry blossom season or during the fall. Leave about 8.30 or 9am and follow the course from Imabari to Oshima, buy a bento at the LifeShop, keep riding on to Hakata Island, stop at the beach to eat lunch, after lunch keep going to Omishima, stop at the michi-no-eki for a rest, instead of crossing the bridge to Innoshima go around to the other side of Omishima and take the ferry back from Miyaura port to Imabari. The last ferry leaves about 3.50pm, but check and make sure! This is a great day trip.
  • Imabari Castle
  • Kiro-san on Oshima
  • Asakura Towel Museum
  • i-News is a bilingual Imabari magazine, published by ICIEA (an international association who helps foreigners). Check it for information on the local events
  • Check out Imabari community radio station to listen to some JETs!

Accomodation

  • Kokusai Hotel – very tall, expensive, fancy hotel located 10 minutes from the station.
  • Imabari Grand Hotel – one of the cheapest business hotels in Imabari, it’s next to U’s Bowl (not Kokusai Hotel, the other side of U’s bowl). I think it’s 4,200yen per night.
  • Station Hotel and Urban Hotel – cheap and conveniently located by station.
  • Kiyomasa – they have lodges for rent on the upper side of Kiyomasa. If you’re in a group of 2-4 this is the place to stay. It is a Japanese style lodge with tatami. You pay per lodge not person. The lodges are between 8,000yen to 10,000yen per night and 3-4 person limit depending on the lodge, onsen included. There is also a charge for during the day, so those intending to stay longer than one night will find it more expensive (4,000yen for the first four hours and 1,000yen for every hour after that. Day time charges apply between 10am and 9pm). Food and drinks are not provided.

Health

  • Murakami Orthopedics (seikei in Japanese) – this is the place to go if you break a bone or sprain something. He is a specialist and very good. He also speaks a little English.
  • Suzuki Dermatology (hifuka in Japanese) – if you have any skin problems he’s your man, he speaks some English.


Namikata Town 波方町

Description

Website - http://www.islands.ne.jp/imabari/index.html


Location / Access / Transport

  • By bus: Namikata station, local buses going into Imabari City and other places in town
  • By ferry: There is a ferry in Namikata that goes to Takehara in Hiroshima. The ferry runs every hour and starts at 4.30 in the morning till 9 in the evening. From Takehara you can catch an express bus to Hiroshima station which takes about an hour. The price for the ferry one way is around 1100yen. There is also a ferry that runs from Imabari.

Shopping

  • There are a few grocery stores in town but no places to really shop other than in Imabari City. In the Hashihama area right next to Namikata there is a Komeri, home improvement store and right next to it is the discount grocery store Dio. They are both on route 317 going towards Imabari City.

Dining Out

  • There are a few restaurants in town all mainly on the main streets around town. One that is quite popular is a yakiniku place called Liohen. The best yakiniku in the area although a little pricey. You can see the restaurant on the way to Namikata port if you are coming from the Matsuyama direction. It’s a restaurant with the picture of a cow on it.

Leisure

  • There are various activities offered in the town hall and the town gym during the week. I don’t know the schedule but you can easily ask at town hall.

Nightlife

  • There are small cafes in town and some with karaoke but most of them are frequented by the locals and closes relatively early during the week.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Ozumi no Hana is a nice beach camping area at the tip of Ehime over looking the sea. It isalso where the Marine festival is held, the Sunday right before Marine Day. There are various food vendors, a stage for performances with local acts and a power-rangish dude that comes to put on a show for the kids, kayaks for rent, and a mini boat cruise around the small nearby islands.
  • Shimanami Kaido: Namikata is also very close to the Shimanami bridges that connect to the Seto Inland Sea islands and Onomichi in Hiroshima. You can rent bicycles at Sunrise Itoyama to cycle across the bridge which is relatively inexpensive compared to driving across the bridges and paying the high toll fees.
  • Cultural activities at Namikata BOE during the week (taiko, tea ceremony, flower arrangement)
  • A great kids park that’s fun for all ages! (roller slides and a flying fox).
  • Above the park there is a nice path that will take you to a traditional house. Next to the house is a small museum that displays old agricultural tools.
  • Umiyamajo (Namikata Castle) is a tiny castle at the top of the same mountain, but the walk up is nice and the view is great (you can look at the sea and the first set of the bridges over to the islands).


Omishima Town 大三島町

Description

Omishima`s total population is close to 8,000 including both Omishima and Kamiura towns.


Location / Access / Transport

You can reach Omishima by boat, ferry or bus. The bus is the most convenient option and it takes about an hour to get to Omishima from Imabari. The last bus heading to Omishima usually takes off at 9:30p.m. Coming into Imabari, the buses begin running as early as 6 a.m. and typically run on the hour, every hour until 6pm.

  • By ferry: (from Imabari port) – slow ferry: 6.30, 9.50. 13.445; fast ferry: 8:00, 14.35, 16.50
  • By bus: (from Imabari bus station) – nearly every hour, starting at 8am, finishing at 10pm weekends, 7:50pm on Sundays and bank holidays.
  • By car: (from Imabari/Honshu) – travel over the Shimanami-kaido

Shopping

  • There are several shops and places to buy little gifts and cultural items that you WILL NOT find in the bigger, more popular cities. Take advantage of these cultural treats when you’re out sightseeing and shopping for your friends and family back home.
  • Miyaura has two small supermarkets and a large DIY shop.
  • Kamiura has two small supermarkets and two convenience stores close to the bridge.

Dining Out

  • Several restaurants offering a small range of Japanese cuisine from okonomiyaki opposite the shrine to sushi and tempura at several places in Miyaura and Kamiura.

Leisure

  • There is the Mari Gracia Spa located on Omishima Island in Itena town The spa is nicely situation looking out over the Inland Sea and has an inside and outside onsens with relaxing comfortable sauna located inside. You can also get personal massages as well relax in lounge chairs while looking out over the beautiful ocean. They also have a little pub to keep you well fed while you relax and enjoy the calm atmosphere. Mari Gracia is open from 8:30-9p.m. during the week and 10 a.m.-8p.m. on the weekends.
  • Small library in Miyaura community centre/ local government office with videos.
  • Volleyball is popular (in Miyaura on Wednesday nights there is volleyball – mixed ages/ability)
  • Omishima has the Kamiura Dome located in Kaimura town. The Dome is equipped with a swimming pool, weight room, and onsen as well as two full sized basketball courts and volleyball courts. Just outside the Dome is two sets of tennis courts and a soccer field located across from the Dome as well. Weekly events such as yoga classes and ping pong are held there as well.

Nightlife

  • Nightlife is extremely limited – one small karaoke bar on Miyaura and a restaurant/karaoke bar.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Located in Omishima is the famous Oyamazumi Shrine that houses 70-80% of Japan`s National Treasure of Samurai armour and swords. The 3 story museum which houses the famous armor is usually open during the week and closes on the weekend around 5 or 5:30 p.m.
  • Omishima also has a huge Autumn Festival that includes the whole island! It begins at the Oyamazumi Shrine located in Omishima. The festival includes many towns toting their local Danjiri all throughout the island with singing and dancing and plenty of food.
  • A beautiful walk up the mountain behind Omishima Elementary School from which several islands can be seen.
  • Utena beach is a quiet location with a beautiful setting and some basic facilities (including toilets)
  • Pirate shrine
  • A large dam in the mountains and a small waterfall.


Yoshiumi Town 吉海町

Description

The town has about 8000 people in it and is one of two on the islands of Oshima


Location / Access / Transport

  • By bus: There are several local buses as well as a bus that goes from Omishima to Imabari.
  • By ferry: There is also a ferry that runs from 6am to 8pm every day every half hour to and from Imabari. There is a smaller ferry port in Miyakubo that runs to the other islands.
  • By car: The Shimanami Expressway runs through Oshima connecting it to Imabari and all the way up to Hiroshima.

Shopping

  • The Life Shop is on the main road running through town (317) and has the best selection of food.
  • Next door is a drug store with medicine and beauty products.
  • Lawsons and Circle K are just up the road as well as a Tsutaya video store.

Dining Out

  • There is a small cafe at the Rose Park (Bara Coen) which serves set lunches.
  • There are also 2 or three restaurants along 317. All serve Japanese fare and are open intermittently.

Leisure

  • Most leisure activities are located in Imabari. There is a nice lookout point in Yoshiumi as well as the Bara Coen which when in full bloom is quite beautiful and a big tourist stopping point.

Tourism / Festivals / Highlights

  • Murakami Suigun (pirate) museum, Kirosan observatory and cycling on the Shimanami Kaido.
  • There is also a stone museum in Miyakubo to celebrate Oshima's granite production. It is as exciting as it sounds.

Health

  • There is a small hospital in Yoshiumi near the elementary school for emergencies.