Awashima Island 粟島
land of sailors
Awashima, a small island located 4.5 kilometers off the coast of Kagawa Prefecture, is one of the exhibition venues of the Setouchi Triennale. But Triennale or not, Awashima Island is worth a visit. Shaped like an anchor and covering an area of 3.68 km2, Awashima was originally formed by three islets that were linked together by sandbanks. A small island with quaint charm, it was an important port and hosted the prestigious National School of the Merchant Navy.
An island of sailors
Awashima was on the sea route named "kitamae-bun ", which connected Osaka to Hokkaido and the north of the archipelago by crossing the Seto Inland Sea (also called Seto Nakai ). From the 17th to the 19th century, many freight ships used this route and the inhabitants of Awashima had many famous sailors.
In 1897, Awashima hosted the Archipelago's first maritime academy, the Ecole Nationale de la Marine Marchande, which educated the best civilian sailors of the time. Many of them sailed the seas aboard prestigious Japanese ships such as the Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese ship to cross the Pacific Ocean.
After the school closed in 1987, the building was turned into a museum. Known in English as Awashima Marine Memorial Park, this one-story Western-style building built in 1920 houses model ships, instruments used in navigation, and objects used when the school was active. The long corridors and classrooms with patinated parquet floors give a retro charm to this place that we would like to be able to bring back to life.
Located near the school, in the center of the island, the old port and its narrow streets winding through old traditional houses offer a pleasant walk.
From Mount Jono (Jonoyama, 222m, the highest point in Awashima), there is a superb view of the island and the sea. A hiking trail starting from a former primary school leads there in about 30 min on foot.
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New course: art
Awashima, which had known glory and prosperity thanks to the National School of the Merchant Navy, was quickly deserted when the school had to close in 1987, for a lack of students. Today, its population is less than 300 inhabitants but the island has remained active, in particular by joining the Triennale of Setouchi.
Even before partnering with the Triennale, Awashima was already home to many art projects and artists-in-residence housed in the old school. In particular, creatures made of boat buoys have been found for a long time along the island.
Don't miss the Missing Post Office. This is the island's former post office which closed in 1990 and was reopened by artist Saya Kubota for the 2013 Setouchi Triennale. But it is now a very special post office. Indeed, only postcards whose addressee and sender are anonymous are collected. You can write a card on-site or send it (address below) and it will be displayed in the middle of the main room of the building, available for reading. An unusual place not to be missed.
- Opening hours: Open the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Free entry.
- Address: Hyoryu Yubinkyoku Dome, 1317-2 Takumacho Awashima, 769-1108 Mitoyo-shi, Kagawa Prefecture.
For the 2019 edition of the Setouchi Triennale, a dozen works of art will be exhibited in Awashima from September 28 to November 4. The artists Katsuhiko Hibino, Dinh Q Le, Richard Streitmatter-Tran and Mounir Fatmi will exhibit their works there.
With a circumference of only 16 kilometers, Awashima is easily visited on foot or by bike (there is a bike rental shop a 3 min walk from the port).
To learn more about the Setouchi region:
- The Seto Inland Sea
- How to get around during the Setouchi Triennale?
- The Shimanami Kaido Cycle Path
- Teshima Island
- Honjima Island
- Ibukijima Island
- Awashima Island
- Shamijima Island
- Takamijima Island
- Ogijima Island
- Megijima Island
- Takamatsu City
- Uno Harbor
- Kosan-ji Temple
- The Myths of the Seto Inland Sea Islands
- Battles and legends in the Seto Inland Sea
- Pirates and Fighters of the Seto Inland Sea
- Youkai of the Seto Inland Sea
- Naoshima's open-air works of art
Address, timetable & access
TimetableTake the ferry from Mitoyo City, either from Suda Port (15 min, 8 ferries per day) or from Miyanoshita Port. During the Setouchi Triennale, it can be reached by speedboat from Takamijima (15 min, departures every 60-90 min) or Honjima.