Date Visited: April 28, 2019
Among the popular islands of Kagawa, Shōdoshima (小豆島、しょうどしま) is a picture-perfect island mainly known for art and olives. Both the coastal views and the whimsical objets and buildings make every corner of the island photogenic, and while nobody will stop you from taking a selfie, I’d still recommend going with friends or family, especially if you’re looking to get that perfect Instagram shot.
Things to See in Shodoshima
Shodoshima has plenty of attractions. Visiting them all in a day is possible, but if you’re using public transportation, it’s best to check bus times so that you can make the most out of your stay.
Angel Road (エンジェルロード)
The so-called Angel Road is a strip of land that emerges once or twice a day when the tide is low. It is said that if you walk hand-in-hand with your loved one on this path, your wish will come true. Unsurprisingly, the area draws a lot of lovers and is furnished with other lovey-dovey activities, like a bell that you can ring for happiness and prayer plaques in the shape of shells.
The estimated time for Angel Road’s appearance is usually displayed at the tourist information center (土庄港観光センター、とのしょうかんこうセンター) at Tonosho Port.
Shodoshima Olive Park (小豆島オリーブ公園)
A vast park on a hill, Shodoshima Olive Park (小豆島オリーブ公園、しょうどしまオリーブこうえん) has plenty of Instagrammable spots. Among the favorites are the Greek windmill, which also happens to be one of the filming locations for the live action version of Kiki’s Delivery Service. Free broomstick rentals are available nearby, for people who want to live the fantasy of being a witch like Kiki.
Owing to the international art festival Setouchi Triennale, Shodoshima Olive Park also has a lot of interesting objets worth taking photos with. During my visit to the park, I happened to spot a gigantic book with a door that swings open. My heart skipped at the sight, but since I was traveling solo at the time, I couldn’t take a photo of myself with the book. Normally, I’d have asked the next person to take my photo for me, but it was Golden Week, and queue didn’t look as friendly as I’d hoped.
Nature lovers will find pleasure in Kankakei Gorge (寒霞渓, Kankakei). It is especially known for beautiful autumn foliage, which is best enjoyed with a 12-minute ropeway ride.
Twenty-four Eyes Movie Set
The filming location for a Japanese classic film of the same name, Nijūshi no Hitomi Eigamura (二十四の瞳映画村, にじゅうしのひとみのえいがむら) is located on the east end of Shodoshima. The vintage classroom overlooking the sea makes an excellent background for taking photos.
What to Eat in Shodoshima
Shodoshima is not nicknamed “Olive Town” for nothing. You’ll find plenty of ways of locals have infused olive in dishes. I dined at Sun Olive in Olive Park and I was torn between an olive burger and this bowl of fish on rice. In the end, picked the latter and had no regrets.
Olive Ice Cream
Go to any place in Japan known for a particular ingredient and you’ll find a soft-serve ice-cream version of it. Shodoshima is no exception. This olive ice cream is also available at Olive Park.
Soy Sauce Cider
I love soy sauce-flavored ice cream. Naturally, you’d think I’d enjoy soy sauce cider, too right? Not quite. I’d say try this one for the novelty of it, but don’t expect to want seconds. Available at Sun Olive.
Getting Around Shodoshima
Shodoshima may be an island, but it’s not a small one. The attractions are not within walking distance and you’ll need a form of transport to explore the island. Here are some of the available options.
Rental Bikes and Cars
Once you arrive at Tonosho Port, you will find bikes and cars for rent within walking distance. If you prefer to use your own vehicle, you can board the ferry with it. Fees for passengers and cars are separate.
Local buses are the next best thing when it comes to exploring Shodoshima, but do expect to be tied to a fixed schedule. Special one-day passes are available at the sightseeing center for a thousand yen.
|1-Day Pass||2-Day Pass|
A one-day bus tour is available at the island. It leaves at 9:45 in the morning and prior reservations are required.
Alternatively, you can hire a private taxi through VELTRA for your sightseeing needs.
The island is a tourist magnet and while it attracts few Westerners, you will find a lot of East and Southeast Asians. It’s best not to go to the island during peak season, namely during Golden Week. When I went to Shodoshima, the local bus could hardly handle the number of people boarding it and I had to spend half an hour standing in an overpacked bus. It killed my enthusiasm for exploration, to be honest, and after Olive Park, I got tired of the crowd and made my way to some place that only had a handful of people around.
This is the reason why I’ve relied on Instagram photos for the attractions listed on this page. I also wrote this info down to serve as my own reference for the next time I visit Shodoshima, hopefully at a less busy time.
To get to Shodoshima Island, board a ferry from Takamatsu Port. The ferry ride will last 30 to 60 minutes long, depending on the speed of the ferry you choose.