Ninoshima island and its mountain, Aki-no-kofuji
View from Aki-no-Kofuji
View from the island
An historic island
Situated in the sea facing the city of Hiroshima, the island of Ninoshima is steeped in history. During the Second World War, it served as a refuge for the Japanese. Now, it's popular for its hiking trail.
An island rich in history
Hiroshima Prefecture is home to 360 islands in the Seto Inland Sea, the stretch of water that separates the main island of Honshu from Shikoku. Among them, the little Ninoshima (似島) directly faces the city of Hiroshima. Just 4 kilometers away form the city, it's easily accessible in less than half an hour by ferry from the port of Hiroshima, for 880 yen return ($7.80). Ferries depart every 90 minutes.
Ninoshima is an island that is easily explored because of its small size: it covers only 3.87 km2. It also boasts a small mountain, named Aki no Kofuji with a height of 278 meters. It has a conical shape quite similar to that of Mount Fuji. In fact, "Aki no Kofuji" means "little Fuji of Aki", Aki being the old name of Hiroshima prefecture. The name Ninoshima means "island of resemblance", in tribute again to this similarity with Mount Fuji.
Ninoshima is no ordinary island, and its history is rather unique: it has seen much over the years and hosted all kinds of visitors. From the 19th century, the island held military installations. Then, during the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), it served as a quarantine area for returning Japanese soldiers in the face of the cholera epidemic. At the end of the First World War, it was a prison for German soldiers.
But Ninoshima is most famous for hosting thousands and thousands of refugees after August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima. A hospital was set up on the island, and victims and refugees flocked there in makeshift canoes. 10,000 people found refuge there, and many were victims of the bombing. The following year, an orphanage was built there: it was there that children orphaned by the war, found a home.
Ninoshima and its hiking path
Today Ninoshima has many memorials from this weighty past, including a ceremony celebrating peace held on August 4th. Today, the island is home to a small village where fewer than 1,000 people live. The island is popular for its hiking trail along the mountain, which offers sumptuous views of the surrounding islands as well as of Hiroshima, a rare thing.
To discover : Hiking in Japan
Arriving at the small fishing port of the island, with its soft rustic charm, you can easily rent a bike to cycle along the coast and reach the beginning of the hiking trail. The trail is relatively easy and takes around one hour. Our only advice is to use insect-repellant, and beware of the spiders living in the bushes along the way. All along and up to the summit, you can admire the Seto Sea, the surrounding islands surrounded by oyster beds and of course Hiroshima itself, particularly beautiful at sunset.
Head down the mountain, and you can enjoy the easily accessible beach.
Read: Beaches in Hiroshima
A final note, don't stay too late enjoying the beautiful scenery, as the last ferry leaves the island at 8pm.