Inland Sea No. 5: Manabe Island
There is a more recent blog post on Manabe Island here (July 2014) . Please read Why French Tourists are Flocking to an Island of just 230 People in the Seto Inland Sea in addition to this one.
真鍋島 (まなべしま）Manabe Island
Manabe, in Okayama prefecture, is part of the Kasaoka Island Chain (笠岡諸島) which includes the following islands (in order from closest to furthest out): Konoshima, Takashima, Shiraishi, Kitagi, Manabe, Obishima, and Hishima.
This week we’d like to introduce you to Manabe Island, which is very close to the Humor-Us headquarters on Shiraishi Island. As a matter of fact, Manabe and Shiraishi are in the same Kasaoka Island Chain in Okayama Prefecture. We want to tell you about Manabe because they have a festival every Golden Week that you might be interested in attending. Not only that, but we know a lot of really cool people who live there who will do their best to make your visit enjoyable.
During Golden Week (beginning of May), the hashirimikoshi festival takes place. This involves young men in loincloths running around the island while carrying a wooden mikoshi. This year, 2010, the festival is on May 3 and 4. The main activities are on the morning of the 3rd (9:30 to noon) and around 3:00 pm on the 4th. The island has a population of only about 250, so if you go, you’ll surely be the only foreigner there! It’s a great way to enjoy festivities with the locals. The Manabe islanders will welcome you.
Manabe island is known for its flowers. You can hike up the mountain to the flower park and see vistas of the Inland Sea. You can even see Shiraishi Island from there, so be sure to moo to us and wave! Manabe also has a 88-shrine pilgrimage based on the original Shikoku Pilgrimage.
There is a funky little okonomiyaki shop called Nagisa on the top of a hill which is run by a local fisherman, Kazukiyo. When we say little okonomiyaki shop, we mean it—just two tables! But the views from up there are great and Kazukiyo is very friendly.
Ryouka is also on Manabeshima. If you are not in the know, Ryouka serves live food—live octopus, live shrimp, etc. We think the cook must be very lazy 😉 This is a pricey restaurant, but we highly recommend it for the truly adventurous. Reservations necessary.
As if this little island doesn’t rock already, Manabe has log house accommodation on the beach! Let our friends at San Tora (三虎 Three Tigers) take care of you!
San-tora Log House: Apartment-style room (with Western-style toilet, private bath, veranda) on their private beach! Rates are: 2 people 15,750 yen per person, 3 people 13,650 yen per person, 4 people 12,600 yen per person. Prices include breakfast and dinner.
Santora Ryokan:Regular rooms in their ryokan are 10,500 yen per person on weekdays and Sundays, 11,500 yen on Saturdays.
Dormitory: Santora used to be a youth hostel, but no longer are. They do, however, have “dormitory” style rooms, for 5,500 yen per person per night including breakfast and dinner. “Dormitory” means one big tatami mat room that can fit up to 8 people. So you could be sharing with other people. They also have smaller “dormitory” rooms called “kobeya” which fit about 4 people, but they only offer these in the off-season (presumably any month other than July and August).
If you speak Japanese, call San-tora at (domestic) 086-568-3515, (international) +81-86-568-3515. If you want reservations in English, then we’ll help you out for free. Just email us at shiraishireservations at yahoo dot com
San-tora is the only accommodation on Manabe. Aren’t you lucky?!
If you find Santora a bit pricey, then we suggest going to Manabe as a day-trip from Shiraishi Island, where you can stay at the Shiraishi International Villa for just 3,500 yen per person for the first night and 3,000 yen for every night thereafter). Manabe is an easy day trip and the island is small enough that you can walk around it.
The Sanyo Kisen Ferries leave for Manabe Island from Kasaoka port and Shiraishi Island every day. Check the Moooo! Bar website for ferry schedules. As Manabe is on the same ferry route as Shiraishi, the departure times from Kasaoka port are the same. Manabe is two stops after Shiraishi.
There is a small store on Manabe that sells very basic things like milk and eggs but not things like meat. You may want to hit the large supermarket on the mainland at Kasaoka before you get on the ferry if you want to bring your own food.
Please read Why French Tourists are Flocking to an Island of just 230 People in the Seto Inland Sea for lots more photos and information on Manabe Island and Santora accommodation.
Manbe Island was propelled to fame by French artist and author Florent Chavouet who published a book on the island residents and their life in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea (2010). He also illustrated another book called called Tokyo on Foot (2012).