Small trip to Okishima island

Hey there, it's Emiko from J-Hoppers Kyoto.

Many of my friends visited me in March! Many! Some are from Australia, some from Korea, and some from Europe. It's always nice to show fist-timer-in-Kyoto some touristic places in the city, but sometimes I get wacky/cool request like "let's go somewhere we can see real life in Japan without tourists"! That was a request from my friend from Paris, who is part time photographer.

I came up with an idea - road trip! Although I didn't want to spend so much time just to travel, sometimes traveling there takes longer than the time we spend in the destination, I wanted to avoid that.
After some research, I found out that there is a fisherman village a.k.a cat island in the middle of Lake Biwa called Okishima. 1hour plus drive from Kyoto, then boat ride, OKISHIMA IT IS!

It was so refreshing to drive around the lake, I always adore seaside/waterfront areas, which remind of my grandma's town.
We arrived at the ferry port, of course no one was there. No ticket counter or machine, no restaurant, no shops, just a small ferry port with people to commute.


Fare is 500yen for one way, you can find ticket machine on the boat, and the local guy comes to collect them during your 20 mins ride.



Just typical fisherman town with about 280 inhabitants living there, we decided to get a town map made by school kids at the port for 10yen!

I was looking for some CATS, I'm a cat person. And local cats warmly greeted us as well as local people!



Most of them are used to seeing people and so friendly, but you are not allowed to feed them!

We explored the town, walked to the edge of the island to see a Torii gate called Itsukushima Shrine - yes, just same as the one on Miyajima island.





these houses reminded me Brighton beach in Melbourne! haha



There are so many Fukinotou (Butterbur scape) which are seen only in the countryside and so delicious! They made me miss my grandma who is probably now busy picking them up and cook them so well! 


Very vivid Torii, well maintained, standing in the water, it might be just a gate for people but I don't know it was somehow so majestic and calm to me that I could sit there for a while. This village is probably having this problem just like all other small towns in Japan. Depopulation. Or somehow it might become very touristic all the sudden someday, but in any cases, I felt people on the island even for a short time - people were laughing at us getting scared by the super loud alert for wild boars and started talking to us, kids were curious about my foreign friend, enthusiastic old ladies about the local food that they are promoting, and just funny peaceful farmers and fishers. There was not much exciting things going on, but we felt people, that is I guess the most important thing on my trip, and that's what we want them to keep. 

And we saw this amazing sunset at Miami beach (yes, Miami beach in Japan hahaha).


I sometimes completely forget that Lake Biwa is a LAKE. They have busy beach season in summer but it's actually a lot to explore around the lake all year around! And it's so close to Kyoto! Highly recommended :)

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