Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Shikoku Journey: Shodoshima

Shodoshima: pandas, olives, big love.

Shodoshima is an island located in the midst of the Inland Sea, an hour ferry ride from the coast of Takamatsu. The name literally means "Island of small beans". Shodoshima is illustrious for its olive trees: it's the only place in Japan where olives grow. The island also has a mini 88-temple pilgrimage, similar to the one found on Shikoku, with gorgeous temples and shrines tucked in the lush mountains.

Shodoshima is a very special place for me. I keep fond memories of the last time I visited my friend Lorianne, when we witnessed chanting and drumming in a shrine, and a Buddhist priest invited us into his home for tea and cake with his family. Lorianne is the resident English teacher on Shodoshima (along with lovely newcomer Irma), and I deeply admire her for having created such a wonderful life for herself on the island.

On Friday night, Lorianne, Irma, and I set off for Shodoshima, from the port in Takamatsu. We took the very last ferry, which was more like a speed boat. I was a bit terrified, but we arrived safely at destination in under thirty minutes. The sea was pitch black, and so was the sky, except for a bright moon and sparkly stars. The sky from the harbour at Tonosho (one of the two towns on the island) was the most perfect, beautiful view I had ever seen, and I found the peacefulness so soothing.

As we disembarked and got ready to walk the long path back to Lorianne's house, a sailor quickly ran up to us and offered us a ride back, in the strong Kagawa dialect we could barely understand. Back home, accepting a ride with a sailor would be a major no-no, but in Shodoshima, you just say yes. Hitchhiking around Shodoshima and catching rides from strangers who offer them is probably the best way to travel around the island, as buses are very sparse.

After a late night sleepover complete with cocoa and girl talk, we had an exquisite brunch at Baru Tina, a stylish café that serves pasta and tapas. I ate a simple but delectable dish of pasta with garlic and olive oil, since well, Shodoshima is famous for its olive-related products: olive ice cream, olive chocolate, olive socks (!), and the list goes on. For dessert we indulged on chocolate pizza at nearby café Oasis, and I'll probably dream about chocolate pizza for the rest of my life, as I didn't know something so delightful even existed.

All that food required a bit of walking, and I caught a glimpse of the aforementioned olive trees, and was in awe of the mountains and greenery of the island. Sadly, time to leave the island arrived, and I luckily caught the massive panda ferry back to Takamatsu. Poor Lorianne had to put up with me begging her to find out the time of the panda ferry (I was also okay with the giraffe, but secretly hoped for the panda), as I insisted on taking a cute one back to the shore.

Shodoshima has the most special place in my heart, and everyone who lives on that island seems to be so kind and friendly. I am fortunate to have an outstanding host, who knows all the best locales.

I said goodbye to Shodoshima with a happy heart (and full stomach), and I know I'll be back again.

Three girls and a speed boat 

Lorianne reassured me as the speed boat made me nervous

The dark sky and moon in horrible photo quality

Spicy hot cocoa post-drinking and before bed
This café was opened by a family from Tokyo.
I highly recommend eating there. 

So simple but oh-so-good.

This street is called "Olive Road"

The infamous chocolate pizza:
whipped cream, custard, chocolate. Yum!!

The mountains of Shodoshima

An olive tree up close

A small bamboo forest

A citrus tree

An olive grove

Rice vending machines.
Yes, this is rural Japan.

An olive bus stop.
Too cute for words.

Pandas! Rainbows!
A happy ferry.
On top of the world, pandas in tow.

You can eat udon on the ferry.
So long, Shodoshima. xo


Neo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neo said...

I love that you can make me equally excited and interested in Shikoku/Marugame as you did with Hong Kong!

I am happy that you are updating during summer time, and I'm sending positive thoughts your way!

Shizuka said...

Next time in Japan I'll definitely have to go on a quest for chocolate pizza! *~*